Jesse Rosenblatt has had an incredible career as an entertainment attorney and consultant. He has worked with some of the biggest film production companies and studios in the world such as Paramount, MGM, Sony Pictures and The Weinstein Company.
Jesse has extensive knowledge and experience in many areas of entertainment including domestic and international acquisitions, sales, distribution, marketing and promotions, with a dedicated mindset towards helping his clients achieve their greatest potential success. Discover how Jesse made his career successful and the steps he took to excel as he moved up the ladder.
Interview with Jesse Rosenblatt
Iain: How did you progress in your career?
Jesse: The first thing I did early on was to stop listening to people who kept telling me that working in entertainment was an impossible dream (and there were lots of them). I went to law school seeking to get into entertainment law and to eventually work for a major motion picture studio. That was my objective. And even though I had no idea how to make that dream a reality, I just knew I was going to make it happen.
I spent time interning for free with a small entertainment law firm named Rudolph Beer while I was in law school in order to get experience with film contracts. I got the opportunity to become quite hands on with several independent film projects we were working on. One film even got nominated for an Oscar, which was immensely exciting. They also repped Britney Spears at the time so I worked on some corporate matters for her. I got to see her career explode right from the beginning, which was quite an amazing phenomenon to witness.
Upon graduation from law school, I had to face a tough reality first year attorneys rarely get positions working in entertainment law, either at firms or in-house with entertainment companies. As a result, I made the decision to go into practicing corporate law with a large NY firm. I figured that learning how to be the best attorney I could be and developing a deep understanding of how to negotiate and structure agreements in a business context would ensure that I made myself a marketable commodity when the right entertainment position emerged. I still knew I’d get to where I wanted to go and trusted and believed it would happen in time.
And since you never know where opportunities will arise, I made sure everyone I knew was aware of my desire to work in entertainment. While having dinner with a friend from high school one evening, I mentioned to her that I still wanted to find a position with an entertainment law firm. A light bulb went off this time and she mentioned an acquaintance she knew working at an L.A. law firm in their entertainment group. She made the introduction and, many interviews and a cross-country move later, I started working in the transactional entertainment law group of Sheppard Mullin Richter and Hampton.
I immersed myself in the entertainment practice of the group, in both in their Los Angeles and New York offices. I made it a point to work on as many different types of projects as possible, learning to be the most well rounded attorney I could be. While there, I worked on transactions for almost every major motion picture studio and developed relationships all across the industry. I handled an incredibly vast number of deals covering many aspects of film, television, digital and new media, advertising and promotions and branded entertainment and sponsorships. It was invaluable for me to learn and be exposed to such a diverse amount of work flow and it was my time there that turned me into the lawyer I most needed to be to have the practice I do today.
My position there led me to my next adventure as head of Business and Legal Affairs at The Weinstein Company on the international side.
While at The Weinstein Company, I learned an immense amount about the international side of the film business. I quickly came to understand why the international pre-sales and output deals are often the cart that draws the horse for many companies. I also had the opportunity to become involved in complicated television deals and film acquisitions for the company. Attending film markets was a part of my job there so I got the chance to travel, including a trip to Cannes. It was incredibly intense but I learned more there in a relatively short time than I feel I could’ve learned working for any other film company. The Weinstein Company is a truly dynamic place to work.
In 2008, in spite of what everyone was saying about the economic conditions, I left The Weinstein Company to start my own entertainment law and consulting firm, the Law Office of Jesse Rosenblatt. My mission was to handle transactional work across all segments of the entertainment industry, but to maintain the flexibility to manage matters for corporate/company clients as well as individuals. I now have the pleasure of being able to do work for studios and networks as well as for writers, actors and independent producers, and everyone in-between. I get to take an active role in my clients success and to help guide them through the industry. It is incredibly rewarding and I am truly grateful for the wonderful things that are happening with my business.
Iain: What would you say was your key to success?
Jesse: The most important component of a successful career is building great relationships. It’s essential to make networking and relationship building a part of your everyday life. See it as part of your everyday business to meet and learn from others who are in your field and/or who have already been where you’re trying to go. If you keep an open mind and truly look for ways to learn from people and be of value and service to them, helping them however possible, doors that seemed impossibly closed can swing wide open. I have received introductions to opportunities from people you would never expect so keep an open mind about those you meet and their ability and willingness to assist you.
I am also a big proponent of finding unobtrusive ways to follow up with people to stay on their radar, by demonstrating you paid attention to things that interest them. For instance, you can send a link to a film trailer or to an article on a topic of interest to that person. It’s just a great way to ingratiate yourself to people by expressing an interest in them and this enhances their desire to assist you.
Perseverance is also essential. I never lost sight of my goals or what I wanted to achieve. Despite the circumstances, apparent obstacles or the odds at any moment in my career, I knew that I would succeed in getting to where I wanted to go. Many people feel like they have to have all the answers first or understand all the pros and cons of a particular course of action and by doing so, they freeze themselves into inaction, even if only temporarily. There are no such things as mis-steps they’re all just steps forward, even if you can’t see exactly where you’re headed at the time. My suggestion is to take actions each day that instinctually feel right to you and learn from each one for better or worse. You can always readjust tomorrow and reassess which actions to take next but it’s imperative that you keep moving. If you do that, you’ll achieve what you’re seeking. Learn to trust your own intuition and you’ll often be surprised at the incredible places it can lead you. Assume your credibility and assume your success.
Iain: How did you go about finding clients?
Jesse: My clients come almost entirely through referrals and word of mouth. I’ve built a vast network of clients, friends, colleagues and former colleagues and clients who recommend me to others they know in the entertainment industry.
I suggest spending as much time as possible with people in the industry and you never know where allies can emerge. I know that, especially early in your career, you may feel at times that you don’t have much to offer to the other person, but do your best to find something anything to let them know you sincerely wish to aid in their success or business in any way possible. You’ll be amazed where this can lead. Remember, it’s not about what people can do for you. It’s about how you can help others become more successful. The increasing success of those around you will invariably generate more opportunities for you to thrive as well.
I do also have a website which serves as an informational tool to inform people to whom I’m referred about my background and experience.
Iain: What has been your most important career decision?
Jesse: At this stage, making the choice to go off on my own to start my firm has been an incredible choice. In spite of the odds and advice from many around me that the economic conditions were so challenging, I had a sense internally that the time was right to do it and I’ve never regretted it. The growth I’ve experienced as an attorney and as a businessman have been exponential in the last two years. On top of that, the world of wonderful people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, so many of whom I just wouldn’t have had the chance to meet otherwise, has been such a gift. The flexibility and opportunities are endless and I am in the process of considering many different directions to expand my business. And the joy I derive from having control over my destiny each day is something I can’t see trading for any opportunity to work for someone else at this point.
Iain: Where will you go from here?
Jesse: The sky’s the limit. I’m working each day to learn ways to better serve my clients and help them become more successful. I’m adopting some more creative ways to add value to their business and even taking a more active role in some of their projects. I have plans to grow and expand my business and am also enjoying things as they are. It’s a great place to be!
Iain: What advice would you give to others seeking to obtain experience in entertainment law?
Jesse: In addition to the advice above about perseverance and fostering strong personal relationships, it is essential to maximize your opportunities to learn as much as possible about the different facets of the entertainment industry and the issues surrounding them. You want to read, attend lectures, and, of course, receive hands on experience working with as many different types of transactions as possible. This will make you marketable so when the right position that you may be seeking becomes available, you’ll be able to justify why you’re the right person for the job.
Things are changing so quickly in the entertainment business, particularly on the digital and new media front. It’s a very exciting time. To be successful, it is important to learn about and understand the business goals and issues surrounding new media since everyone is constantly trying to find new and innovative ways to monetize content. I’ve seen some very exciting business ideas to try and be a piece of this changing landscape. One that comes to mind is a friend s company KlickableTV (www.klickable.tv). They’ve come up with a very exciting and flexible method to purpose and monetize online content (and deliver back end data about who’s viewing and how their responding to the content) and I’d be surprised if this isn’t where things are heading. The more you can demonstrate an interest and knowledge base in these areas, the more valuable you’ll make yourself in the industry.
I wish you ever-increasing success in achieving all of your goals.
To find out more about Jesse, visit www.jesserosenblatt.com.