Tobey List and Anthony Bregman
by Tobey List
When I first discovered that my winnings from the Best Producer award for my thesis film, BUNNY, included a meeting with Anthony Bregman, I laughed. Not because I find Anthony's insight and success laughable in the slightest, but because he had been my Professor at Columbia, and I had previously interned for him. I knew him already and had had ample opportunity to talk to him and solicit feedback in the past. Nevertheless, I knew it was a great opportunity, and I wasted no time in setting up the meeting.
At the time, he was in pre-production on My Idiot Brother - it was a very busy period for him, but he still took an hour out of his day to sit with me. I walked in his office, and we both kind of laughed. He asked me what we were supposed to talk about now, and I shrugged, since I'd previously pelted him with my fair share of questions. So, we just started talking very informally. I told him about my movie, my experience making it and the full time production job I had just started two months earlier. He told me about his past and current projects, his trajectory through the industry and offered some valuable insight about being a successful producer without sacrificing your values.
Perhaps the biggest piece of wisdom I took from our conversation was his advice that I should always carefully consider each film I choose to produce. He said, quite astutely, that young producers tend to jump at the chance to produce anything, no matter what it is. He imparted his own philosophy - and I think it is part of the reason he is so successful - that your professional responsibility lies in defining yourself and your taste and upholding that. He told me I should only consider producing films that I am passionate about and that I feel match my own sensibility. I respect that advice, and I respect his career all the more because he's followed it. And while Anthony admitted that it's scary not to take every opportunity when you're young, you have to choose wisely because once you decide to take on a film, you'll be with it - for better or worse - for years to come. You're stuck with it, and it will define you. His point was that deciding what will define you (and usurp your life) is fully within your control, and you should always have that at the forefront of your mind when making career decisions.
At the end, I thanked him and gave him a copy of BUNNY. Just a few days later, he took the time to watch it and email me with very kind and insightful comments, and offered to talk to me whenever I had future questions. Overall, it was a very positive and valuable experience - I respect Anthony greatly. He gave me some good professional advice, and I had fun talking to him and hearing about his own path in the industry. I can only hope mine will be as bright.