‘Success is a measure of opportunity not achievement’ — Malcolm Gladwell

Words by Isaac Penglis

With the record-breaking success of the film Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood there’s no better time than now to look behind the camera at the director and screenwriter of this vibrant ode to a lost era. Quentin Tarantino has brought a multitude of global classics to the big screen including his debut directorial project, ‘Reservoir Dogs’ as well as the iconic films ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Django unchained’, both of which won Oscars for best screenplay. Quentin’s path to success in many ways is a story tale in itself — high school dropout and video store employee becomes worldwide phenomenon. However, much like many countless individuals on the path to success, Quentin was given opportunities which undoubtedly played a part in him becoming the director that he is today.

This concept is explored in the book ‘Outliers: a story of success by Malcolm Gladwell’ who states ‘People do not rise from nothing… The people that stand before kings may make it look like they did it themselves. But they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities.’ This can also be said for the world-class director behind Once Upon A Time … In Hollywood. Quentin’s early career began at the age of fifteen with him landing a job at Video Archives, allowing him to spend time watching and expanding his knowledge with limitless films as well as exposing him to other film enthusiasts. One of whom became a cowriter in his first two original screenplays.

Herbert Simons a behavioural economist produced a theory attempting to understand some of the decisions we make. He theorised that our minds must be understood relative to the environment in which they evolved. This can be applied to the decisions made by Tarantino in his early life. Being born around the time of video stores being a dominant industry it would be difficult to find a better place for movie buffs to share and expand their knowledge in the art of film. Later opportunities came when Tarantino was offered a job with Cinetel, a production company, and it was through one of the producers there that he managed to get his script for ‘True Romance’ (which he wrote at Video Archives) to a well-known director, who liked the script enough to buy the rights for it. This gave Tarantino the money he needed to fund his first breakout film ‘Reservoir Dogs’, and the rest is history.

It can sometimes be demotivating to look at someone as successful as Tarantino as it can appear that they got to where they are today by themselves and through sheer hard work and determination. However, no one becomes successful in isolation. Obviously Tarantino still had to work hard to get to where he is but it was the opportunities that presented themselves along the way, which he used to good effect, that propelled him into becoming a world class director.