How Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey built a company free from the evils of what the actor calls, ‘Old Hollywood’
Team Downey It started as a way for husband and wife to work together. This is how they have turned their production company into an incubator for creativity.
While Robert Downey Jr. is perhaps better known as Iron Man, the actor spends many of his days as a business owner, working upside down at the production company he co-founded with his wife, producer Susan Downey.
They met on the set of the movie Gothika (2003) and as their relationship grew, they discovered that the weeks they spent apart while Susan traveled for movies she was producing were a long one. “Recipe not only for disaster, but also for anguish … finding things we love and being able to be together in a creative process”Susan said in a conversation at the Fast Company Innovation Festival.
The couple formed production company Team Downey in 2010. Over the past decade, they have produced such films as Dolittle and The Judge, TV series Perry Mason and a series of documentaries, The Age of AI
As well as offering the duo a way to work together, Team Downey it also offered them the opportunity to build a production company that aims to be the opposite of what Robert calls’Old Hollywood, which is a gulag with death from work syndrome ».
The Old Hollywood model, as he describes it, is “Where you’re stuck in a job that looks great on the surface, but there’s no trajectory toward not really needing the production company and all of its facilities to thrive.”
Susan refers to Team Downey as a more “family-friendly” organization: “That does not mean that the scope of what we do is small. It just means that the way we do it is very practical. “ Because the organization is large and the Downeys are also busy with two children, she says they have built a culture of intense exploration – they take on only a few projects that everyone loves.
«In the end you realize that if you are going to take the time to do something, you have to love it», He says. “You have to be willing to know where those hours are going, because they are not going to go anywhere else.”
Susan’s theory of healthy corporate culture, she says, applies to any group, whether it’s on a set, in a relationship, or in a company (useful, because her work life spans all three): the foundation is communication, trust and respect. If you are promoting those three values well, you will create a culture of independence, in which everyone receives a practical education and is inspired. “Nobody has to sit at a desk for long. Get in, get the job done, soak up as much as you can. Do it“, He says.
Robert says that what has evolved at Team Downey is an atmosphere that allows people multiple paths and options. Some employees dig deep and become lifeguards. Others use Team Downey as a launching pad for their own endeavors.
Unlike some big companies or old Hollywood studios, employees who quit to pursue their own projects don’t hold a grudge, says Robert: “Some take the experience and go out… and now we are watching the movie they are writing. wow, ‘great!’ It really is a kind of incubation.
Christine Lagorio – Chafkin – INC