Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in Rian Johnson’s Brick. Photo: Steve Yedlin/Focus Features

Stick around.

If you’ve got good, unique stories to tell, and you stick to your guns and keep telling them with whatever resources you’ve got and just don’t go away, eventually people will start listening.

When you get a “yes,” stop talking.

A very wise piece of advice from a very wise executive.

Storytelling knows no formats.

Keep making movies, with whatever you’ve got. During the dark days of no hope, when it looked like Brick would never come together and my friends and I were sick of talking about how much we wanted to make a film, I borrowed a friend’s DV camera, got my buddy Steve and a few actors and shot a short over one weekend called The Psychology of Dream Analysis. That little DV short ended up getting me my first professional writing gig. If you’ve got a good story to tell, don’t be afraid to just grab whatever you can and tell it.

Don’t conform yourself to the marketplace.

When you’re struggling to make your voice heard, it’s so tempting to look at the stuff that’s selling, say ‘I can do that’ and mold yourself to what you think people want to buy. This sounds like cheesy inspirational crap, but I really believe it’s true. Keep your voice pure, because the uniqueness that seems to be holding you back in the short term will be what pushes you out in front of the pack in the long term.


A man’s keychain should be a single steel ring.

That’s it.

I am very obviously out of wisdom. Wow, that didn’t take long.