Wednesday, May 27, 2009

3Questions: Ross Martin - Senior VP of MTV360 Development and Production

As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Ross Martin, Senior Vice President of MTV360 Development and Production.

HBAD: So, tell us about yourself. Who are you, what do you do, what does that position involve?

RM: I lead a group of incredibly talented creative people focused on innovation at MTV. We develop and produce content for MTV, MTV2 and mtvU, run creative for MTV's branded entertainment initiatives, mess with new formats and business models, run some bizarre partnerships, and work on special projects that span multiple networks across Viacom. This involves stepping on a lot of toes, getting in trouble and, when we are lucky, using the power of MTV for good. I like it.

HBAD: How did you get your start?

RM: After graduate school for poetry, I worked for Spike Lee for 3 years. He let me do shit I was completely unqualified to do. Or he might have been unaware I was doing it. Either way, I started as an intern reading scripts one summer, and I snuck myself into a job there developing projects for Spike to direct and produce. One of my responsibilities was to help find talent that the traditional Hollywood studios were missing.

HBAD: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in this business, looking to break into television on an executive level?

RM: Our industry is experiencing a massive contraction. Or you could call it an overdue correction. Either way, in the midst of the chaos, there's huge opportunity to blaze a path. Everyone I know doing interesting work has pretty much no idea what they're gonna do next. And if you're not on the verge of getting fired right now, you're probably playing it safe, which is not acceptable, and you probably should just step aside, get out of the way. It's like former NBA standout Latrell Sprewell. His game wasn't pretty, and he did self-combust, but he was famous for creating opportunities for himself and his teammates to score. He didn't wait for a shot to present itself -- he made shots happen. My advice, for what it is worth, is to work your fuckin ass off, create, and always find a way to find a way.

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