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Entrepreneurial Approach Pays Off For Hurt Locker

Thom Ruhe, Director of Entrepreneurship, The Kauffman Foundation

By the ‘conventional wisdom’ that has prevailed in Hollywood over the last decade, The Hurt Locker should have been (quietly) happy to merely have been nominated for several Oscars and serve as grist for the mill that would have recognized the mega-production that is Avatar. After all, it was James Cameron’s previous uber movie (Titanic - 1997) that garnered 14 nominations; ultimately walking away with 11 awards including best picture and best director.

But it was Hurt Locker Director Kathryn Bigelow’s uncompromising approach to produce a movie that was true to her (and other key staff) vision to be a genuine depiction of what our service men and women are dealing with in the Middle East that walked away with most of the big awards this year.

In her tenacity to make this film, she had to overcome many obstacles; the kind of obstacles that have killed countless worthy projects. In fact, she pushed forward during a time when the industry was running to safe waters of sequels, tired formulas of teen angst, weak comedies, and comic book characters.

Whether she intended to or not, she demonstrated many of the common characteristics of successful entrepreneurs. And those who took a chance on her (author Mark Boal and Summit Entertainment for example) participated in similar support roles that most successful entrepreneurial ventures have in common – from key advisor to angel investor.

And so it is, even in the film industry, that one can find entrepreneurs taking calculated risks, challenging the status quo, and finding new markets where others dared not. In my humble opinion, and as someone who has served in the military, the praise for this film was worthy - worthy for its entrepreneurial success and for an unflinching depiction of what our service men and women are enduring as an extension of our nation’s foreign policy; right or wrong.

As Kathryn Bigelow acknowledged in her acceptance speech, let’s remember the sacrifices these brave individuals are making at the behest of their country. Let us also remember the toll these actions are having; political, financial, and human. To not remember (and learn from) these would be as un-entrepreneurial as it would be unpatriotic. 

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