EOC 004: Filmmaker David Rountree and His Decade-Long Overnight Success

David's headshot

David’s headshot

Oh, my. Episode four already. We’re making steady progress with this podcast thing. Thank you so much for everyone who’s tuning in and thank you for all the love shared. I appreciate you!

I’m really excited about this episode, as I talk with filmmaker David Rountree (his IMDb), who was referred to the program by Jake Katofsky, who I interviewed on Take 2. David is a multi-talented guy who writes, produces, and directs his own movies. So far, David has directed four and produced five features under the banner of his company, Psycho Rock Productions.

Initially a sports guy, David has a curious journey, as he kind of fell into acting (he joined the drama club because he had a crush on an actress). His first real gig was on a local TV show in North Carolina, where David’s from. Attributing a lot of his early success to the marketability of the athlete in him (David practiced three sports!), he eventually signed on with a manager and moved to Hollywood, where he worked as an actor, eventually transitioning to behind the camera.

Listen to the interview here:

On this take, we discuss:

  • Reasons David had to fire people in his crew
  • Mistakes he made as a director and the lessons he learned from the experience
  • Advantages of having your own production company
  • How some athletic background may help you as an actor
  • Tips for actors doing auditions
  • How lucky he was as an actor for booking a major commercial right out of the gate and immediately getting his SAG card!
  • How he had a 2-year lull in his acting career that made him appreciate how tough the business is.
  • Why you should double your rate of failure

 

Show Notes

Highlights

108 Stitches movie David Rountree Josh Blue

David and  comedian Josh Blue on the set of “108 Stitches.”

One of the main things I wanna hammer home as a post-analysis is how long it takes to be successful in this game. As David and I discussed on the show, “overnight” success in Hollywood usually takes a decade or so, which is not as a random number as you might think. In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcom Gladwell argues that proficiency in any trade takes about 10,000 hours of practice, trial-and-errors, skill honing, etc. That’s 10,000 hours of hard work towards whatever you want to be, not counting hours of sleep, eating, etc. According to Gladwell, most people need 10 years to run the clock on those 10,000 hours.

Now here’s the kicker: In Hollywood, more often than not “successful” just means doing what you love full time even if you’re not getting paid ridiculous amounts of money to do it! It’s the difference between, for example, a working actor and a struggling actor. A struggling actor is someone who needs a 9-to-5 to pay rent. On the other hand, a working actor is someone who already has representation and collaborators in this business so that he is constantly employed. He can’t retire just yet, but at least he can earn a full time living doing what he’s passionate about. For me, that’s the definition of success in Hollywood: doing what you love and getting paid in the process. The next level after this is stardom. That’s reserved for the Steve Spielbergs, the Meryl Streeps, the Jerry Bruckheimers, the Shane Blacks. These are professionals so talented and so sought-after that they don’t have to hunt for jobs because there are people hunting for them. It’s a glorious position to be in, but one that usually requires much more than 10,000 hours of experience in addition to the right connections, constant improving one’s skills, and luck.

The bottom line here is: avoid giving yourself a deadline, especially a short one. Odds are: you’re not going to have your big break within a year or two after moving to Hollywood. And that’s true for everyone in the business. Know that it takes time. Learn to love the process. Thicken your skin. Court failure and keep at it.

 

David Recommends

Read Scripts

When I asked David what books he would like to recommend for the listeners, he said that actors should read more screenplays. David explains that reading scripts helps you understand why things are written a certain way and helps you to be in that mindset, which is a great point because everyone in this business should be comfortable reading screenplays, and definitely actors.

One of my readers once told me that reading scripts is boring. Well, it shouldn’t be. Or even if it is, you should do it enough till it becomes second nature because – trust me – that’s a skill that will benefit you in this industry. David recommended Drew’s script-o-rama as his script database.

Save the Cat!

As far as books go, Save the Cat! was David’s recommendation for us. This screenwriting book, which was recommended to David by producer/manager Dan Halstead, is a little gem of a read for filmmakers and screenwriters as it discusses salability of a script, including the marketability of a logline and the target audience.

Stage 32

David also recommended Stage 32 as an online resource. David calls it “Facebook for filmmakers.” By the way, thanks to David’s referral, I’m now in the process of the scheduling an interview with Richard “RB” Botto, the CEO and founder of Stage 32. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter, and I’ll let you know once that happens! You can connect with David on his Stage 32 profile or on Twitter @psychorock2.

 

And here’s the trailer to David’s upcoming film, CUT!

  

Coming Soon

Next week, I talk with Angel Hunter, an administrative assistant at 20th Century Fox, giving us insight on the corporate track and why you should consider it. Stay tuned.

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