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Going The Extra Mile: Ron Bass And The Ronettes

Rain Man

In the ’90s, screenwriter Ron Bass was a screenwriting machine. He wrote many well known films including Rain Man and a number of Julia Roberts movies such as Sleeping with the Enemy, My Best Friend’s Wedding,  and Stepmom.

He didn’t do it all alone. And he received a lot of criticism for this. But it’s a great example of how business works, and how going the extra mile can solidify your position in an industry and be very lucrative at the same time.

So who helped him write all these great scripts? Well, the Ronettes of course.

Ron Bass had a very lucrative deal with Sony Pictures. At one point, if I remember reading correctly, the deal called for him to write 7 scripts a year. He would get paid $1 million a script whether the movie was made or not. Not a bad deal.

Enter The Ronettes!

He always had a staff of writers and researchers working for him. Usually six or seven people. Usually women. Their job was to help polish up the writing. They would find the perfect joke for a scene. The perfect character name that had some symbolical meaning. Whatever was needed. They became known throughout the industry as “The Ronettes”.

In an interview once, Ron stated that he could probably write 6 screenplays a year all by himself. So why hire 6 or 7 people to help you write just one more? Have you done the math yet?

I don’t know what he was paying the Ronettes, but let’s say $50,000 a year each. Times 7 adds up to $350k. And that still leaves $650K for Ron because he was able to write that one extra script a year.

Not bad. And on top of that, the scripts were better than they would have been without all that research and input that the Ronettes contributed to the process. Even if they cost him that whole extra million, his reputation and position in the industry was solidified by the quality of the work being produced by his team.

If you can bring in new people and leverage their work to gain additional business that pays for their efforts, you’re ahead of the game. And chances are, you have existing people or assets that aren’t being leveraged to their fullest potential. Find those opportunities and you’ll knock it out of the park.

Just thinking to myself … ‘Shanettes … Hmm … doesn’t quite have the same ring to it’

Denouement
 

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6 Comments

  1. Shane, you are right – this is a great example of leveraging the right talent to increase the efficiency and quality of a product. Not only does it make his job easier, but his scripts were so much better as a result that Sony kept renewing his contract.

  2. Shane,

    I love your specific example for getting others involved and mutual benefit for all. I have never heard of the Ronettes but it is very catchy. Thanks.

    David Zinger

  3. Nate,

    Yeah, I always liked this example. It usually takes 150% effort to aqueeze out that extra 10% that takes you to the top. This shows hoe you can leverage all that effort. And it shows how big the payoff can be.

    David, hi,

    I don’t think the Ronettes monicker was meant to be flattering. It was sort of a slight against him by industry people. Of course, Ron Bass being a great writer turned the name into a great story.

  4. That’s a great point. I wonder if some try to do things alone, so that if they hit the jackpot, they won’t have to share the glory?

    I think in a small business sense, where controlling expenses is crucial, it’s easy to get hung up on *any* extra expense as being a negative.

  5. Hi Anthony,

    The real secret is knowing what to get hung up on and what not to. And that just comes with experience.

    The good expenses are ones that directly get you sales (which can be a gamble sometimes) or the ones that help you fulfill a sale and all the promises you made after you already have it locked in.

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