Mike Tollin credits his mentor, Berl Rotfeld, creator and producer of the syndicated TV series Greatest Sports Legends, with getting him involved in the sports-documentary business. And for the past 20 years, he and longtime production partner Brian Robbins, have directed and produced such hit shows as One Tree Hill and Smallville, and films like Varsity Blues.
In the fourth and final week of Mediabistro’s Profit From Your Passion series, we talked to Tollin about how he got his start in the entertainment industry, the difficulty of sustaining a show on network television and his advice for those just starting out:
You know, the classic mantra is ‘follow your heart,’ which may sound trite and overused, but it has a lot of merit. It’s a very competitive business. People think that there’s a lot of glamour, but to me, it’s a lot more grind than glamour. It’s hard to break through so you have to be prepared to hear a lot more ‘no’ than ‘yes.’ It’s important to believe in your own vision and to have a passion that ties to what you’re pursuing, because that’s hard and you’re going to need to persevere. And I don’t know how to do that unless you really, really genuinely care. I’m only a good salesman when I believe what’s coming out of my mouth.
To hear more from Tollin, including his latest projects on digital networks, read: So What Do You Do, Mike Tollin, Acclaimed TV/Film Director and Producer?