Brad Pitt and Why Finance Doesn’t Have To Be Boring

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worldwarzcsheetfeb15

There’s this misconception about investment bankers and dealmakers being caged monkeys sitting behind a computer, facing 5 screens and doing nothing but preparing financial models and presentations from sunrise to well past sunset. A most boring species of number-crunchers, many erroneously assume.

In fact, recently I overheard two passengers discuss the business on a Jet Airways flight to Mumbai.

One of them said to the other, “The world of finance is so bloody dull, yaar. A big day for an investment banker is reading The Financial Times in bed.” They both laughed.

I found it amusing.

Later, that same guy pointed out a picture of Brad Pitt and George Clooney together in some magazine to the other passenger. “These two guys are so cool. You know, I wonder if Brad really looks like this in real life.”

I smiled to myself.

A memorable encounter

What many people fail to realise is that films, though they aim to put magic on a screen, are very often motivated by commercial aims. Filmmaking is a business. Sure, the backers want to entertain audiences but the chief objective is to ensure a return on investment. Not sexy but true.

As film budgets continue to rise, more and more capital is needed to realise the motion picture and fulfil the cinematic experience. And when you need lots of money, you need investors. And dealmakers like myself are sometimes the ones who bring investors to the table.

The aforementioned passenger reminded me of an encounter I had some years ago.

Back in 2011, a European film fund approached me to help them raise money. They knew I was close to several Family Offices (organisations that manage the wealth of very large families) and invited me to learn more about their business.

“Sure,” I said, being a big fan of film.

“Why don’t you come on the set of a film we’ve worked on,” said a senior executive from the fund. “You can meet some of the crew.”

“I’d be delighted to,” I said.

The following week I found myself on the set of World War Z, which was partly shot in London. I arrived to the studios very early in the morning where I was met by a young female assistant.

“Please follow me,” she said, leading me through a maze of rooms full of crew working away on set design, and past a very large space packed with extras being prepped for a shoot by one of the assistant directors.

The assistant dropped me off next to Marc Forster, the director, who invited me to sit at a table with him and very kindly gave me a brief overview of the scene they were preparing to shoot. To hear it from the director’s mouth was quite the experience.

So we were both seated and I was listening to him when, all of a sudden, Marc looked over my right shoulder and said, “Oh, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.”

I turned around to find the man himself, Brad Pitt.

Marc introduced us and then Brad and I had a short yet very pleasant exchange. It’s always difficult to judge a person based on limited interaction but I would say that the A-list actor was very cool and down-to-earth for someone of his stature.

Arrival into India

Back to the plane ride to India…

When the aircraft landed and everyone stepped out, I stopped that same passenger.

“He does,” I said to the man.

He appeared confused. “I’m sorry. I don’t understand,” he said to me.

“Brad Pitt does look like that in real life,” I said, and stepped away with a smile.

Finance doesn’t have to be boring. By being curious, entrepreneurial and sometimes a little cheeky, you never know where it might take you. Oh and that holds true of whatever business you’re in. YOU are the one who dictates your journey.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Tanya February 13, 2015 at 10:37 am

I have a friend who was an extra on the set of WWZ and she said Brad Pitt looks exactly like you see him in films. He’s one of the best looking men in Hollywood xoxo

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Daniel February 13, 2015 at 5:38 pm

Not just banker but firefighters, accountants, chefs, teachers, karate instructors, etc. Anyone no matter what they do can “dictate their journey”. I’m sure there are boring monkey bankers who only sit at a desk and drool over spreadsheets. Then again some are more adventurous. A job doesn’t define you.

Thanks for the posts.

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Raymond February 14, 2015 at 7:52 am

Feature films – only 10.5 hour day and 3 scenes or 1 1/8 pages to shoot. Oh and 2 hour lunch. A luxury compared to TV series and indie films.

Always delighted when your emails show up in my inbox.

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The ibanker February 15, 2015 at 9:13 am

I can imagine. Hope to work on a TV series some day. Perhaps one about bankers ;)

Thanks for reading the posts.

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