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Life/Business/Software Lessons From Boogie Nights
"This Is The One They'll Remember Us By"

Posted by Charlie Recksieck on 2022-06-09
One of our least-demanded and personal favorite article types here on the Plannedscape blog is when I assemble famous quotes from a beloved movie and shoehorn some fairly basic business advice or some software tips I've assembled over the years. Well you didn't ask for it, but here's another one from a personal favorite of mine: Boogie Nights.

Sportswriter Bill Simmons used to do a similar thing in his columns and has also used Boogie Nights.

Simmons has often articulated that pre-internet, you had your circle of friends that had their own vocabulary of in-jokes and loves of things in the general culture, but you couldn't see how many other people had the exact same in-jokes in their own bubbles. Boogie Nights was just pre-internet enough in 1996.

Dirk: "I'm ready to shoot RIGHT NOW"

It's not just coked-up porn stars who get ahead of themselves. It's so very tempting in business and in software to want to get going ASAP. On our software projects, even small simple ones need some questions and planning first.

Record Producer: Because it’s a Catch-22.
Dirk: What the fuck does that mean? What is a Catch-22, Burt?
Record Producer: Catch-22, gentleman. Think about it.
Dirk: You know what I’m thinking about, man? I’m thinking about kicking some fuckin’ ass!

Using terminology that people aren't familiar with can make them angry. Maybe don't spray the acronyms and technical jargon around so much.

Buck: "See this system here? This is Hi-Fi... high fidelity. What that means is that it’s the highest quality fidelity."

In a meeting or a pitch, don't start a sentence until you know how you're going to finish it.

Jack: "The story sucks them in."

Yes, Jack is a little bit of a self-delusional hack. But he's been in the biz for a couple decades so he does know a little about things.

Whether it's a presentation, an email or a website, people generally don't read much or scroll if they're not captivated. Make your case in your first paragraph. Better yet, your first sentence.

Dirk: Look, man, all we need is the tapes, all right?
Record Producer: No, you don’t get the tapes until you’ve paid.
Dirk: In our situation, that doesn’t make any fucking sense.
Reed Rothchild: Look, we can not pay for the tapes, unless we take the tapes to the record company, and get paid.
Dirk: Hello? Exactly.
Record Producer: That’s not an MP, that’s a YP, your problem. Come up with the money, or forget it.
Reed Rothchild: Okay, now you’re talking above my head. I don’t know all of this industry jargon, YP, MP. All I know is that I can’t get a record contract, we cannot get a record contract unless we take those tapes to the record company. And granted, the tapes themselves are a uh um oh, you own them, all right, but the magic that is on those tapes. That fucking heart and soul that we put onto those tapes, that is ours and you don’t own that. Now I need to take that magic and get it over the record company. And they’re waiting for us, we were supposed to be there a half hour ago. We look like assholes, man.

Make sure you're on the same page in any negotiation. If it feels like there's a disconnect, then take a break and come back to regroup later.

Jack: "If it looks like shit, and it sounds like shit, then it must be shit."


Dirk: "Everyone’s Blessed with One Special Thing"

Everybody brings something to the table on a staff. Try to find out what that is and make use of it.

Scotty: "I’m a fuggin’ idiot. I’m a fuggin’ idiot. Fuggin’ idiot, fuggin’ idiot, fuggin’ idiot..."

Self-doubt can creep in. Don't let it.

Maurice (looking at new sign just put up on his business): "Aww man, they put a Q - it's supposed to be a G"

Attention to detail is important. Check things about 5 or 6 times before they're sent to the printer.

Guy At Party: I think she did too much coke.
Colonel James: Oh, you think so, doctor?"

It's tempting to say something obvious in a meeting. Don't be that guy.

Jack: "This is the one they're gonna remember us by"

Don't just make every project 'good enough.' Have some big, memorable goal to shoot for.

Dirk: "You’re not the boss of me, Jack. You’re not the king of Dirk. I’m the boss of me. I’m the king of me. I’m Dirk Diggler. I’m the star. It’s my big dick and I say when we roll."

Check your ego at the door. Making it about yourself NEVER works.

Dirk: Let me explain to him in simple arithmetic. One, two three! Because you don’t fuckin’ get it, Burt! You give us the tapes. We get the record contract. We come back and give you your fuckin’ money. Have you heard the tapes? Have you even heard them? We’re guaranteed a record deal. Our stuff is that good!
Record Producer: Now I get it. Now I understand. You want it to happen... but it’s not going to happen.

"You want it to happen but it's not going to happen" is a sentiment that is unfortunately true in almost every project (both work and recreational) that I've ever been involved with or seen.

This seems like obvious advice but it's incredibly true at work: Be realistic.