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Natural born leaders

Academy Award winner Oliver Stone finds plenty of parallels between directing movies and running a business or project.

Natural born leaders

Addressing the recent World Business Forum in Sydney, multi-award-winning film director Oliver Stone said purity, intensity and a dedication to the script are fundamental to the success of large-scale complex projects.

A movie involves hundreds of different people and skills and personalities and lots of egos, so there has to be something greater to you that brings it all together.

“In a film there will be four or five different branches all having to operate together, and sometimes they hate each other, or they’re fighting, and every day there’s 50 choices to make on 50 decisions, and sometimes actors won’t do the things you want them to,” Stone told several hundred business leaders. “But you’ve made the team selection, and you need to figure out how to get the best out of your talent.”

With 24 films, nine Academy Awards, and 10 Golden Globes to his name, Stone was asked about parallels between his role as a director and the challenges business leaders face when drawing together various resources and conflicting personalities.

“Leadership has to be pure and intense,” Stone said. “A movie involves hundreds of different people and skills and personalities and lots of egos, so there has to be something greater to you that brings it all together. On the movie set it’s the script that holds things together, and you need to base your decisions on that script, not on how you feel about a particular person.”

When it comes to getting a film funded, however, Stone said the only way through was to build up your resilience to rejection, and learn not to take no for an answer.

“Sometimes you’ll need to go through a bulldozer of nos before you get to a yes, and that can be very depressing,” said Stone.

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