In 1998, an unknown filmmaker named Lance Weiler rocked the stodgy movie business. His low-budget horror film, The Last Broadcast, cost $900 and grossed around $5 million.
Weiler applied entrepreneurial skills to produce and market his movie. Instead of attending college, he took entry-level jobs in the film business. But even as he worked his way up, he realized he couldn’t convince a big studio to finance his movie.
Weiler thus made his own rules. When he wrote to big production companies proposing to make The Last Broadcast, he didn’t get any takers. So he sent the same letters but deliberately addressed them to the wrong companies.
Studios figured they had received letters intended for their competitors. This stoked their interest, and they replied immediately to Weiler with offers to help him make his movie.
By the time he was ready to release it, Weiler decided to draw attention to his film by using satellite technology to beam it into multiple theaters. During a call with a satellite provider, Weiler noticed that the provider kept asking, “What competitors are you talking to?”
He wasn’t negotiating with anyone else, but he didn’t say that. Instead, he kept quiet and evaded the question. Finally, Weiler said, “If you ask one more time, I’ll have to end the conversation.”
Five minutes later, the provider asked again. Sure enough, Weiler hung up.
The provider called later and wound up giving Weiler $2.5 million of technology, far more than he sought.
— Adapted from The Misfit Economy, Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips, Simon & Schuster.