The Value in Knowing What You Don’t Want:

A Talk from Producer Amy Baer

Amy Baer, President and Owner of Gidden Media spoke to our class this past Tuesday. For this talk, we had to go to her office since she was extremely busy! We drove through the Hollywood Hills to get there and we passed some beautiful houses. I felt one of the keys points of advice she gave couldn’t have come at a better time. She described how she got started in the business and at first she didn’t really know what she wanted to do. As she tried a few different jobs she started gathering at least what she knew she DIDN’T want to do. Amy said this was extremely helpful in figuring out her next step. By knowing what she didn’t want to do, she at least moved on and followed her instincts until she fell into a position she liked. At that point in her life she got hired by Sony and stayed there for 17 years, 4 of them being CEO of CBS Films. Once she found what she wanted to do she stayed there; however until then she kept gathering the list of what she didn’t want to do. I think this lesson is very important when starting your career. Being out here, I felt that maybe I was wasting my time if I feel into a position I didn’t like, or my internship turned out to be something I was disinterested in. But that’s okay! At least before I even graduate from JMU I know a few things I don’t want to do and that’s important. Times are also changing. The old distribution model is out of the window as technology develops. This makes it a great time to get into the business. There are many opportunities and our skillsets are valuable. I do hope Amy was right about that. Also, Amy’s company deals with the development of projects. My internship at Circle of Confusion also rests on the development side and Amy gave some great advice from a producer’s standpoint. When you read a script you read it for:

  1. Is it emotionally moving?
  2. Is it original?
  3. Can we market it?

Gidden is an independent company and only choses projects they are passionate about. This is great inspiration to me because I am more interested in independent producing and learning that Amy is a successful woman that gets to producer what she wants and still makes a living is very refreshing.

Hearing polar opposite advice has been confusing. Realizing though, that everyone’s advice is based on his or her experience and advice is something that you can take or leave. Like my father says, “opinions are like assholes everybody has one.” It has been hard to take or leave advice because I want to continue to be a sponge and absorb everything I can, but not everyone’s advice will pertain to me. I need to listen, but not take everything as seriously as I have been. I will chose my own path and my life is my life.



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