Is your mind a raging torrent flooded with rivulets of thought? If so, you’ll love to learn what insurance-related nuggets you can extract from the films of Mel Brooks?
FIVE THINGS MEL BROOKS’ FILMS TAUGHT ME ABOUT A PRODUCER
How can “Producers” relate to quotes from a legendary director’s movies?
By Michael Wayne
Each year around this time, Hollywood elites gather for various award ceremonies. Admittedly, this is not something I get excited about. I will not be attending (or hosting) a party anytime soon to see people who get paid handsomely to play make-believe dress in expensive attire to give each other pats on the back. That’s not to say that I don’t like movies. Quite the opposite, actually. At this point in my life, while seeing new movies, I am also making certain that my teenage son is exposed to classics—Casablanca, Stand by Me, the original Jack Benny version of To Be or Not to Be, and some Laurel and Hardy films among the most recent.
Speaking of To Be or Not to Be, Mel Brooks remade that classic and he is one of my favorite filmmakers. Not that I remember a lot on account of my age at the time, but Young Frankenstein was actually the first movie I recall being brought to see at a theater. While my son isn’t quite old enough to experience the full breadth of Mel Brooks’ satirical genius, it did get me to thinking. Producers can extract numerous helpful nuggets related to the world of insurance from the films of Mel Brooks. … Seriously.
“My mind is a raging torrent flooded with rivulets of thought, cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.” —Hedley Lamarr
While this may not be the most well-known quote from Mel Brooks’ sendup to Westerns that also contributed to exposing the absurdity of racism, it does speak to producers everywhere. When meeting with a prospect, it is important to provide them creative alternatives to what they are getting from their current broker. Whether it be from a service standpoint, resources available to them, or how you can positively impact their bottom line, you have to figure out how you can make a difference to win their business.
“The ship is too big. If I walk, the movie will be over.” —President Skroob
An exasperated and out of breath President Skroob utters this line as he finally reaches the bridge of Spaceball 1, ending a full-out sprint. The correlation for producers is fairly simple. Our industry, and the niches that exist within this vast galaxy, are seemingly never-ending. Additionally, the galaxy continues to expand. Certainly, taking a look at everything that’s out there and understanding as much as possible is a tremendous plus, as that will help you to better serve clients. At some point, however, it’s time to start running. In other words, work efficiently to figure out a specialty that interests and excites you; one where you can excel and then accelerate toward conquering it.
“Dinner is served promptly at eight in the private dining room. Those who are tardy do not get fruit cup.” —Nurse Diesel
In Mel Brooks’ sendup to Alfred Hitchcock films, Cloris Leachman plays main antagonist Nurse Charlotte Diesel. Early on, she establishes herself as a stickler as she rules her facility with an iron fist. Her partner, shows up late for dinner and, sure enough, his fruit cup is taken away before he sits down. While planning out timelines with clients may not be your favorite thing in the world to do, it is vital that you do so and that you stick to agreed upon plans. Any slip-up or deviation on your part from established expectations has the potential to result in a lost fruit cup.
History of the World: Part I
“It’s good to be the king.” —King Louis XVI
Several times in the French Revolution sequence of History of the World: Part 1, Mel Brooks intones to the audience how advantageous it is to be the monarch with this line. He even utters it once as the king’s decoy and in the role of a rabbi in his later film, Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Naturally, for our purposes, we’ll acknowledge that it is also good to be the queen. As producers, being the holder of either royal title is synonymous with establishing that unequivocally, you are the expert in your field, and that clients know that they can rely on you to service their unique needs. That is powerful.
“Hello, handsome. You’re a good looking fellow. Do you know that? People laugh at you. People hate you … but why do they hate you? Because … they … are … jealous.” —Dr. Frederick Frankenstein
When it comes to Dr. Frankenstein’s creation, looks can be deceiving. As a result of past experience, the citizens of Transylvania are wary of “The Creature,” and it doesn’t take much for them to raise torches and pitchforks in an attempt to rid the world of another abomination. Like the Frankenstein monster, producers are different from the rest of the world. It takes a strong person to face rejection while being thought of largely as an unwanted intruder. Without question, being a producer isn’t easy. If it were, there would be many more beautiful creatures roaming the countryside and fewer envious villagers.
Mel Brooks’ filmography, of course, extends beyond what we’ve lightly explored here. That, ironically, includes his first film The Producers, which was turned into a musical of the same name … and a movie again. Unfortunately, I simply don’t have enough space to keep going, and, in the case of The Producers, I’m not sure how Max Bialystock’s exclamation, “That’s it, baby! When you got it, flaunt it, flaunt it!” could legitimately be interpreted as anything other than its surface meaning. Judging by the red carpet prior to any awards show, Hollywood, in large part, has already adopted that line as a tenet of its own.