Inciting Collaboration By Surrendering Control Of Your Story

Filmmaker extraordinaire, Curtis Hanson, realized in order for his film L.A. Confidential to be made, he had to get a disparate group of people to work together to execute his vision.

One might think that the least likely person in any business to surrender control would be a film director. Actually, as Hanson pointed out to Peter Guber’s business graduate students, with few exceptions, the opposite is true.

Films are such complex enterprises over a long period of time that most would never get the core vision realized unless the director surrendered control to the writers, designers, producers, actors, and tech crews who bring movie ideas to life, while keeping a powerful hand on the vision. But even as directors surrender control, they keep their vision intact by framing the story so that others can share it.

Hanson offered up a collage of images and artifacts from 1930s Los Angeles that framed his unique vision for the look and feel of the film, asking the cast, costumers, set designers, lighting, camera, and sound directors, how they might contribute. This engaged them in proprietorship of the story.

Hansen likened himself to a symphony conductor making sure the others “all were playing notes from the same page.” But he needed them to play those notes using their own unique arts and skills. His goal was for their shared story to be richer than the one he originally told them.

The strategy worked so well that L.A. Confidential received nine Academy-Award nominations. Hanson won for Best Adapted Screenplay.



blog-telltowin-linkTo validate the power of telling purposeful stories, Guber includes in this book a remarkably diverse number of ‘voices’ – master tellers with whom he’s shared experiences. They include YouTube founder Chad Hurley, NBA champion Pat Riley, clothing designer Norma Kamali, “Mission to Mars” scientist Gentry Lee, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, former South African president Nelson Mandela, magician David Copperfield, film director Steven Spielberg, novelist Nora Roberts, rock legend Gene Simmons, and physician and author Deepak Chopra.
After listening to this extraordinary mix of voices, you’ll know how to craft, deliver – and own – a story that is truly compelling, one capable of turning others into viral advocates for your goal.


Kevin Plank, founder and CEO, Under Armour

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