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Is building a startup like making a movie?

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By Bharat Swaminathan August 21, 2018

I work at Talentica converting my start-up customer’s ideas into products. I am a Senior Development Manager and have the goodwill of working with highly functional teams and amazing clients to create these products. Also, I love movies, and a few years back, a group of friends and I decided to try our hands in video production. We agreed as a team that we would work on every element of the process – storyboarding, scripting, directing, filming, editing, mixing, marketing … the works!

 

Like any two processes that lead to creating something, there are similarities on the surface between Product & Video creation. Both start with an initial idea. This idea then evolves to become a full-fledged concept. Along with it, comes planning and execution. Through the journey, we sought multiple feedback from several people and implemented them into the execution process. Once the end-product nears completion, marketing activities begin. Eventually, the product or video is presented to the end consumers.

 

I, for one, am a movie-making noob but thankfully my friends were more adept. However, I have experience in music production. We worked on a whole bunch of short videos. Eventually, we saw success with a video we called “Indian Nod: Explained”. Through the course of creating videos, we learned that several factors lead to success. Amongst many, one is extremely crucial – a unified vision.

 

Let’s take a look at a famous scene from Tarantino’s movie Inglourious Basterds – the one where a group of Undercover Intelligence Corps ends up playing a drinking card game. For those that haven’t watched the film, the situation is this – the scene is set in a restaurant where the Undercover Intelligence Corps is plotting to assassinate Hitler. Because of their shaky German accent, they attract the attention of a Nazi German Sergeant who joins the group and subtly coerces them to play the card game. What is fantastic about this sequence is that it is 15 minutes long and purely dialogue-driven. But the tension it arouses puts you at the edge of your seat biting whatever is left after a quarter-hour of nail-biting. The viewers know it in their bones that it is not going to end well.

 

Like any movie, this scene had a solid team behind it starting with the director and writers, the actors, and the on-set crew. Then multiple groups – editing, sound, production, etc. start working upon the received footage. Now, many of these tasks are highly technical. It needs a sound understanding of the technology and tools. A film producer can put together the best team for his movie. But for success, each and every person must align themselves with the desired final outcome. Each member of the unit should feel the exact tension that the script demands. If only the writers and directors understand the end-result, it will result in failure. I’m sure you’ve come across this – “…the concept was nice, but somehow the movie didn’t come together”. In the movie-making process, every player is vital and attuning them to the outcome they have set beforehand is crucial.

 

This is no different from the thing that leads to successful products. The founders alone can’t be the ones with the vision for their product. The end objective should be sharp and clear in the minds of everyone working to create the product, business and technical folks alike. The vision must cut through the various layers – founders, product owners, UX, developers, QA, dev-ops, sales, marketing, et al. A sound process can act as a vital catalyst and ensure a great concept’s evolution into a world-class product.

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