Brian Koppelman: What Really Matters [The Knowledge Project Ep. #83]

Writer and director Brian Koppelman talks about his career ups and downs, dealing with fear, and learning to live a meaningful life.

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Today on The Knowledge Project, I’m talking with writer, director, and producer Brian Koppelman. Some of his great work includes co-writing the Showtime show Billions, Rounders, Ocean’s Thirteen, and so much more. We talk about overcoming fear, doing what you love, and learning to think about life a little differently.

Here are a few highlights from our conversation:

All of us, or most of us, are afraid of exposing that part of ourselves that we hold most dear for fear that it will be rejected. But the artist has a duty to risk that. And it’s a duty to risk it so that you’re able to be better.

You start to really think about who these characters are, what made them who they are. And then you start to think about a story structure that would bring these forces into opposition because you need conflict, sort of in every scene of a screenplay or teleplay.

Figuring out how to get on the wavelength of an audience is again, that’s also something that all of us do in life. I’m just a professional at it, knowing how to do it in a fictional context.

I made the decision while I was 30 that I was going to follow my curiosity and the things that fascinated me. And as long as I’m doing that, I feel like a version of myself that I want to spend time with.

If you look at the great expanse of time, we’re not even a dot. The dot is already over, it’s already in the past. And so we may as well be super connected to the fact that we’re here and alive right now.

All of us go through periods of time where we are going after the more thin pleasures than the thicker, deeper, richer pleasures. So you can’t hold yourself out to a standard that’s impossible to achieve, either.

And if we don’t remind ourselves of first principles consciously, we can just drift. So you have to remind yourself of first principles and then you have to lock down again and then you have to move forward.

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Transcript

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