Every media organization on earth ran tributes to Margaret Thatcher yesterday. Regardless of your political handicap, you can’t help but be humbled by Thatcher’s repertoire of big-game accomplishments. But it does raise a question: what if Margaret Thatcher’s energies had been channeled into filmmaking instead of politics? Could she have given Spielberg and Scorsese an epic, Soviet-style smack down? Could she have been a player in the film world? Yes. Here’s why.
1. Decisiveness to Spare
Making films could just as easily be called ‘making difficult decisions in unworkable circumstances with the whole world breathing down your neck.’ When things look bleakest, the best filmmakers know there’s no place for sentiment or backing down. Few people on earth can claim to be more decisive than Margaret Thatcher was under pressure. Three million unemployed? Cut government spending. Molotov cocktails in the streets? Send in the tear gas. These tough decisions made her the most unpopular prime minister in British history at times, but she persevered. She pushed forward.
2. Mastery of Public Relations
When she saw an opportunity to rally her crew (i.e. the entire United Kingdom), she spun it for all it was worth. Okay, so it was a war for a tiny island off the coast of Argentina. But recapturing the Falklands in ’82 and grinding a dictatorship into chimichurri made her a world star. It sent a message to every other leader on earth. Thatcher means business. The woman knew how to make the most out of a PR event, which would have served her well had she landed in Hollywood.
3. An ability to draw the best out of second-rate actors
Dealing with actors and actresses can be aggravating, but it’s the job of the filmmaker to coddle, stroke and channel mercurial talents into great performances. Thatcher’s special relationship with Ronald Reagin leads me to believe she could have handled the worst divas out there.
4. Identifiable personal brand
You can’t overstate the importance of personal branding. A single word or tag line that encapsulates your distinct specialization and what you bring to the table. It’s a concept that Margaret Thatcher would have understood quite well. She was the first woman to lead a European country. It was the Soviets who came up with ‘the iron lady’ tag in an attempt to mock Thatcher’s femininity. She loved the name. She embraced it and made it her brand. Chew on that, comrade.
5. Unique view of the world
Nothing beats an original vision. The Cohen Brothers. Woody Allen. Edgar Wright. These people see the world through a special lens and translate it onto the screen. Margaret Thatcher was the only British politician to ever have an ‘ism’ attached to the end of her name. Thatcherism. Few can say they have their own ideology. This is a unique piece of filmmaking capital — a special view of the world and the strength to bring it to the world market. Things to which every filmmaker should aspire.