Hollywood is a tough and uncompromising place to work, often described as a “meat grinder” by those working in the trenches. Many, many stories have been written about the challenges of breaking into the industry, establishing a career, and chasing that next gig — a whole cottage industry of books and websites exists for these very reasons. A frequently posed question by many aspiring creatives: does it really have to be this way? With so much money on the line for every movie and TV show, the stress and pressure is understandable… if only there was another way.
In recent years Netflix has established itself as an anti-Hollywood. We’ve read and heard about top writers, directors, and actors moving to Netflix in droves. In just the last week the Coen Brothers, David Letterman, and Shonda Rhimes signed deals with the Los Altos, California company. They join Netflix alums like Jason Bateman, Ava DuVernay, Cary Fukunaga, Robin Wright, and a growing roster of A-list Hollywood talent. So what’s the allure and why is so much creative power shifting from SoCal to Silicon Valley?
Variety interviewed several of Netflix’s most successful creatives to glean insights into their recent and ongoing experiences, and to reveal what’s really happening inside this bubble. It’s important to note that each of these folks were successful before arriving at Netflix; however, because they know the ins-and-outs of Hollywood their perspective is particularly illuminating! It’s a powerful series of interviews, and reinforces that Netflix might be changing everything in Hollywood (if not relocating it altogether).
Jason Bateman (Ozark, Arrested Development):
“The first time I met [Netflix CEO] Ted Sarandos was on Arrested Development in 2012… He came with his son and was so warm and friendly and seemed genuinely happy to be watching the creative people he had hired do their creative work. He was there as our boss and as our leader, yes, but you would’ve only known that if you asked someone. When I pitched Ozark to him years later, he was the same warm and supportive person.”
Ava DuVernay (13th, Central Park Five):
“Netflix reached out to me with an offer that I’d never heard before. Come and make what you’d like to make. We’d like to work with you as an artist, and we’ll support you in that vision. That sounded a little too good to be true. I was attracted by the prospects of a fraction of it. What I ended up getting was so much more.”
Cary Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation):
“Going with Netflix meant we would be the launch of their original movies division, nobody knew what that would look like… I went on to spend the next year of my life working with Ted and his team… Ted stood by his word. He supports storytellers, and despite being such a huge company, he was always there when I needed him.”
Robin Wright (House of Cards):
“I feel like it’s the family. This is the family that has our back… [Ted’s] one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met in this industry. You can just trust him. It’s as simple as that. That kind of authenticity is such a relief.”
We don’t hear enough positive stories like this in the entertainment field. Whether or not you like Netflix’s films, series, and shows, you have to respect a company that puts artistry and quality first (and they’re willing to carry a mountain of debt to make it happen). Netflix’s future is as uncertain as any tech company or Hollywood studio, but rather than reacting to fear or averting risk, they’re actually doubling-down on their mission to tell interesting stories. Netflix is shaking up the status quo, and both creatives and audiences are benefiting from it.
Do these personal stories from Hollywood artists change or reinforce your opinions about Netflix? Let us know in the comments down below!
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