What 5 Oscar Nominated Directors Can Teach You About Being An Entrepreneur

It’s that time of year again and the 2016 Oscars are right around the corner. You can be nothing but inspired by the films and their actors, screenplays, and production teams. This is especially the case with this year’s nominees for best director. Each brought something unique to the table.

These directors had a vision they worked hard to realize and they did it while dealing with a lot of risk.  And in certain ways, these movie directors are similar in nature to entrepreneurs. Given their success, the 5 Academy Award-nominated directors of 2016 can certainly give you a few extra pointers about being an entrepreneur.

Work With Your Strengths And Past Experiences

Known for his big hit comedies, Adam McKay had to find the sweet spot between comedy and drama in bringing the The Big Short to the big screen.  Based on the financial crash of 2008, making the topic with all its financial talk accessible to everyone was essential to the film’s purpose.

You may think that a comedy-based director wouldn’t be able to pull it off, but he did. It was the lynch pin for him. He worked the explanations into a pop-culture frame, getting celebrities to break down financial concepts into analogies that resonated with the average Joe.

In an interview with Film Comment, McKay says, “that was the very first idea I had when I read the book: you’ve got to break the fourth wall in this movie…. I’d seen some movies do it really well, and certainly from my theater background I’d done it a bunch. So I knew it could work—it’s all about how much you do it, the way you do it. But yeah, the very first idea I had was going to those explanations.”

The key takeaway? Know where your experience and strengths fit into your start up. Be brave enough to apply them in different ways.

Whether you’re a knowledge-seeking, problem solver or the manager-type who thinks outside of the box, your perspective and experiences will only help your business thrive. Only you can develop your startup in ways that no one else can.

Feeling Lost Can Be A Positive Part Of The Process

Alejandro González Iñárritu directed The Revenant, which, as you can imagine, was a challenge to shoot. Extreme and unpredictable weather conditions out in the wilderness can’t be easy for any director and film crew to deal with. But, to Iñárritu, the challenge was a personal journey.

Explaining this to Deadline.com, he says of the filming process, “this is not some tourist trip with a GPS, where everything is planned and everything is on time. This is a journey, and my process sometimes in life is to get lost. I personally think that you have to get lost to find something really worthwhile, at least sometimes…. But sometimes the best journey, and the best things you discover, come when you get lost.”

As you build your startup, things won’t always go according to plan. But when you’re in a tailspin, you can find, as Iñárritu did, the inspiration to turn things around.

You need to remember that feeling lost can be a constructive emotion.  It’s a sign to switch gears, adapt, and discover a better path towards your goal.

Don’t Let Setbacks Stop You

George Miller introduced the world to Max Rockatansky back in 1979. That was more than 30 years ago. And it’s been more than 10 since Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome was released in 1985. A long time for diehard fans.

Why the huge gap? Talking to Vice.com, Miller spoke about the many setbacks leading up to the latest film. There were a wide range of obstacles: 9/11, a weak Australian dollar, locations falling through and losing Mel Gibson as Mad Max.

When asked if they made him think of abandoning the franchise, Miller says that it never got to that point. They were just a natural part of the film business.  He expands on the thought, saying, “you have a number of things going, and there’s one that sort of drives you. But if it falls away, if it’s good enough, it keeps coming back. So it was just a matter of getting it all sort of lined up and the right things happening.”

No doubt Mad Max: Fury Road kept coming back for Miller. Struggles will happen and things may get side tracked. But it doesn’t mean the end of your dreams.

In fact, it can be a blessing in disguise. A sign to wait for the right time. And what you need during that time is a sixth sense to know that you have an idea that’s worth developing. Pursue it despite the setbacks.

Learn from your Mistakes and your Achievements

Leading up to this point, Tom McCarthy has acted in a number of films (and TV shows) over the years, including The Lovely Bones and Meet The Parents. He has directed 5 movies with his last recent film being, The Cobbler, which wasn’t well-received by audiences and critics.  But, in stark contrast, the actor/director is now nominated this year for Spotlight, a journalist drama based on true events,.

RollingStone.com talked to him about the differences in success between The Cobbler and Spotlight. And he responded with a reflection on his view on the film-making process:

“You learn with every movie you make, you learn from your mistakes and you learn from your achievements, and I really do have that approach to filmmaking. It was certainly a learning experience, just like making a good movie is a learning experience.”

And likewise, this same perspective holds true for entrepreneurs. You need to treat each step as an experience to learn from. You’re always thrown into new situations, making errors and gaining successes along the way.

But if you can constructively learn from your new insights and experiences, both good and bad, things can only develop and move forward just as they did for McCarthy.

Be Passionate About What You Do

The success of Lenny Abrahamson’s Room has the director in new territory with his first Academy Award nomination. And of course, interviewers are wondering about how he’s reacting to the success and how it affects him.

In an interview with Collider.com, Abrhamson reflects that “you can get a little caught up in it. Also, what I’ve done, I’ve done because I feel passionate about it. I think that works for me. It’s how you make good work. Your heart has to be deeply in it. If you started to choose projects because you like the awards buzz too much and you were a bit addicted to that, and you choose the next project based on whether it’s going to be awards worthy or not, you’ll make really bad decisions.”

As entrepreneurs, you dream of success. And when it finally comes, it can be easy to let profit and success drive you. But the important part is to remember the “why” and “what” that started it all.

You didn’t work long hours and go through all that stress for an idea you weren’t emotionally invested in. Why start now? Always let your passion drive you. Your success will be all the sweeter for it.

So if you need some inspiration and advice on your road to entrepreneurial success, you don’t have to look far.  Just look to the silver screen.