The whole ethos of Scott & Sid is to believe in yourself when others don’t, whether that be parents, teachers or business owners. But unlike other coming-of-age stories from the 21st century this success doesn’t come through showing off your six-pack through Instagram, reselling Supreme clothing, or making a hefty withdrawal from the bank of mum and dad. No, this success is brutally honest, and comes with immense lows and failures as well as highs and successes. Something that seems to have been forgotten in our generation of immediate self-satisfaction and gratification.
But what is the secret to the pair’s success? How did they go from teens with no confidence to multi-business owners that privately funded their own feature film with no experience in acting, writing or directing? We caught up with Sid Sadowskyj, one half of the dynamic duo, to find out how exactly they got to where they are – and how you can too.
Scott & Sid Out In Cinemas Now & To Download/Buy
First of all, introduce yourself and give us a brief introduction of what it is you do
Scott Elliott and Sid Sadowskyj wrote, directed, produced and distributed the feature film Scott and Sid – a film based on 15 year friendship that started at school and took them on a dream chasing adventure from classroom to boardroom to making films by the time we were 30.
What was the first step you took in deciding to make the movie?
When we were 15 years old, spurred on by people saying we “can’t”, we decided to write a list which we called Dreamchasers. It was a list of everything we wanted to see, do, achieve by the time we turned 30. Top of that list was “Make a Movie”.
So I guess this was when we decided.
Since then we got involved in a series of business adventures and became relatively successfully but lost our way, following a path of materialism and basically “showing off”. We were doing things for the wrong reasons. Our compass over the years had shifted away from “making a movie” to “earning money”.
The light bulb moment that changed things for us was at 24. One random Tuesday Scott came into my office after returning from a trip to the local supermarket where he had bumped into an old school friend. He realised after “showing off” that we had lost our way .
He came into my office and said he wanted out of the business we were running. It led to an awkward discussion and a few heated exchanges. The next morning we met up – I think Scott was ready for round 2 – I showed him the list which I had found (yes we actually had misplaced the list in reality). I got out a marker and circled “Make a Movie” and said “What’s next”. From that moment we sold up and started to put 100% of our efforts into film making.
How did you get the budget to make your own film?
Self-made investors. Private individuals. We would try all sorts of strategies to find investors. From chasing people with Ferraris and asking them to have a cup of coffee with us to cold calling successful businesses in the area. Scott and I didn’t come from or mixed with wealthy people so it was a real pickle. We had to think outside the box and step outside our comfort zone to meet people. But as soon as we met a certain profile of person we held attention and we created a connection that would lead to more time and more questions. It went from there.
Were people wary that you’ve never directed or worked on a film before?
It was like climbing Everest. We had never written a film before, let alone made one before. So there was a major credibility issue. But we found that the nature of the story really connected to self-made people who were Dreamchasers in their own right.
Finding the right profile of people was difficult but when we met those who aligned with the film’s message it was relatively easy. Many of our investors had to overcome their own haters, spurred on by a negative careers teacher, parents or whatever it may have been so they definitely connected to that. They saw the relevance and the need for this type of story to be told in today’s atmosphere.. Its about inspiring the next generation of Dreamchasers and I think they are really excited about the Dreamchasers movement. To inspire the next JK Rowling, Barack Obama, Steven Spielberg, Tim Peake, Ed Sheeran is a thrilling prospect. And I think they feel through the power of film that they can pass on the baton and leave a lasting legacy for change.
We did put forward a compelling business plan but overall I think the key was passion and belief in what we were doing. Investors could see through what we were saying and in many ways how we were communicating our ideas, that we had demonstrated enough confidence to take the project all the way to the finish line.
When making the film, did you just have to learn things on the spot?
There were many areas of making this film which we were new to and many areas we had to learn on the job. But I think this led to a series of interesting possibilities. People who we recruited really invested in the story and wanted to make it almost as much as Scott and I, which was incredible. We were like a huge family. I think the key to us was being very open to learning and bringing in the right level of experience in the areas that needed it. Recruiting smartly was a godsend. Without a great cast and crew I think you would be in a lot of trouble.
A lot of decisions you just had to go with your gut. Use your instincts. Film making is such a collaborative effort so trusting people around you is pivotal.
Was there any point in your project when you wanted to give up?
We had a meeting lined up in New York to meet a prospective investor. Money was very tight but we made the decision to fly over to meet him. He cancelled on the day we had flown in for and then did it again the next day, then the next. We flew back, we had not met anyone and we were just deflated.
Another example, we had an investor who strung us along for 6 months saying he was putting in 500k but kept making very plausible excuses. It was difficult to accept someone would do that to you because I couldn’t understand what was in it for them to do that. We were so close but so far away. I remember there were some very dark days. One evening particularly I remember Scott and I just crying slumped down in our kitchen thinking it’s just pretty much impossible. You just felt that you couldn’t catch a break. There were a few moments we said, “we can’t” or “I can’t”. But we managed to dust ourselves off and had the resilience to get back up and try again. The key is never giving up.
How much of the movie is real and how much is fiction?
There’s parts of the film that are polarised, parts that we had to pull back. When the exec producers walked out the film, one of the first thing they said to us is how degrading we were to ourselves in the film. I think the film shows the harsh reality of chasing your dreams and how hard it always is…you have to put down Instagram and Netflix, you have to get rejection after rejection and work seven days a week and then wake up and do it again.
What should people be prepared for when reaching for their dreams?
I think that you have to face a lot of rejection. You have to be willing to take the hits and overcome your fears. You have to be willing to step outside your comfort zones and take risks. But ultimately its hard bloody work. It doesn’t come easy. You may fail but it’s about recognising failures as learning curves along the way to succeeding. But there is no substitute for hard work.
Finally I think if it were easy, it wouldn’t be a dream. So get ready for a rollercoaster ride, but one thing I can promise is that it’s the best feeling in the world when you empower yourself to chase your dreams. It’s liberating and gave us the ultimately purpose in life. Plus it puts you in control of your destiny. Just don’t give up and always learn from mistakes.
The real Scott & Sid
What sacrifices have you had to make to get where you are today?
Time is the major one. You have to dedicate a lot of time to making it happen. But if it’s worth it; if you have a big enough why to make it happen, you’ll be ok with that.
It is important to find balance in your life though. Make sure your relationships don’t take a hit because you’re overworking. Make time to rejuvenate and recharge. Many times taking time off is as important as working. You have to be inspired so surround yourself with good positive people.
If you had to sum up the attitude people should have when trying to achieve their goals, what should it be?
Work hard. Stay humble. Find the right balance between work and play but ultimately make sure you absolutely love what you are pursuing. We are on the planet for such a precious moment in relatively terms, so make sure you spend it wisely.
What’s next on your dream list?
Win an Oscar.
Scott & Sid Out In Cinemas Now & To Download