Sleepless in Hollywood
Tales from the New Abnormal in the Movie Business
More times than she can count, Lynda Obst has been the only high-ranking woman in the room. The Hollywood super-producer behind a string of hits—including Flashdance, Sleepless in Seattle, and Interstellar—Obst, the speaker, offers lessons from a leader who has consistently made things happen against overwhelming odds. When you create a movie, you are essentially launching a start-up: you raise money, you set goals, you assemble a team, you lead them to the finish line. With unforgettable anecdotes, tremendous business acumen, and a timely examination of a post-MeToo landscape, Obst draws on her one-of-a-kind career to offer actionable advice for any industry.
Within her long career, Lynda Obst conquered an industry, producing one Hollywood hit after another. In her keynotes, Obst doesn’t just recount her accomplishments. Rather, she offers practical lessons from the perspective of a high-powered executive who consistently takes projects to the finish line, even when obstacles threaten to get in her way. Yes, Obst is a bestselling author and a celebrated Hollywood producer with more than 16 films under her belt, one at almost every major film studio. But it’s her entrepreneurial vigor and brain for business that has pushed her ahead in these notoriously difficult industries.
Obst’s previous work on films include How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, The Fisher King, and New Adventures in Babysitting. Her books on the film industry include Hello, He Lied, a modern classic about getting ahead in any business, and Sleepless in Hollywood, a prescient look at the industry’s inability to successfully adapt to massive technological, cultural, and economic changes. In the world of television, she Executive Produced NBC’s Emmy-nominated miniseries The 60s, and is currently an Executive Producer on TVLAND’s Hot In Cleveland and syfy’s Helix. She is a former editor at The New York Times Magazine, and is currently producing both film and television projects out of her office at Sony pictures.
Hollywood has a problem, and it’s not alone. Once it was America’s imagination factory—an economic engine that produced hits, made stars, and inspired audiences. Dreams were made, and success guaranteed. Now, it’s in free-fall. Instead of making blockbusters, it’s recycling old material. Instead of setting new standards, it’s churning out an endless loop of sequels. Lynda Obst, one of Hollywood's best producers, calls this malaise “The New Abnormal.” And here's the rub: Hollywood’s downfall—and its potential rebirth—holds striking lessons for any industry that has taken success for granted, any company that has strayed from doing what it does best. Hollywood has been rocked by disruptive new technologies. Globalization continues to exert pressure. And a culture of risk-aversion has produced a glut of uninspired products. Sound familiar? In this brutally honest talk, Obst looks at how to breathe life—and innovation—back into any industry that’s lost its way. Both wise and radical, and deeply practical, Obst delivers a clarion call to embrace change, reward creativity, and return to making the things that inspire and change us.