There is so much changing. So many industries and professions being disrupted, with the people in them having their lives disrupted. The intersection of digital and entertainment is one of the more radically dynamic places in the world today. Theaters are giving way to TV streaming which is again giving way to phone-consumed entertainment. Movie stars are now competing with YouTube stars, and the entire concept of a mass audience experience is changing.
Hambis Charalamobous, 57, is an art director/creative director of posters for the movie industry. We last spoke 5 years ago, when he was at the tender age of 52. He was one of our first heroes, whose snappy motto was to “devour everything.” He was not a plan for the future, 401k, retirement planned sort of guy. “Living in the present is important,” he says. “I’m getting more out of my life if I live in the present. I’ve started to realize that.” We loved the spirit here, but how does that align with being older and working in an industry that is in tremendous flux?
A Perspective on Perspective
His was a world of surfing, fast cars, and motorcycles. His fantasy (said with a great deal of humor) was of buying a lemon yellow Lamborgini on a credit card, and then never paying it off. Probably not a fiscally sound idea, but it spoke of his ethos of squeezing the juice out of every moment of life. This is a guy who feels tremendously lucky to have made it out of the darkness of north London, to a life and career in sun-kissed Los Angeles, and to a great extent, is living the dream of his teenage years.
In the ensuing five years, he has moved up the food chain at work, now becoming the face of a movie business advertising and design company. That business, like everything associated with the entertainment world, has been subject to disruption and budget compression. Is he concerned? “You can worry about it or be positive about it. It all depends on what you want to do.”
The Pendulum Will Swing Back
His main observation is something we have heard from a number of people: now, just as he is really understanding his business, the world around him is in radical change. That, along with the knowledge that “there is less runway now” to learn something new gives him pause.
It is helpful to have seen some trends come and go before one panics. “The business is shifting to more streaming, more small screens. It’s where the most influential audience is. But these trends are like pendulums; they swing back and forth. There is a romance to being in a theater that the small screens don’t have. The theater is a place to go with our friends, to go on a date. They have a social element that I think people are going to miss. It’s lonely on a phone. I think the pendulum will swing back to the group experience of the theater. It reminds me of snowboarding, how that was going to kill off skiing, but then skiing seems to be doing very well today.”
Adapting to Change
“The entertainment business is in constant change, which I could complain about, but not really. This changing nature of the thing is how I got in. It’s how I got my chance. Now I try to make the best of it.” Nothing stays the same, and we have a choice to go with it, or to withdrawal.
Although Hambis can’t control the macro trends of an industry, there is one thing he can control: the quality of the work his company puts out. He feels if the company is the best at what they do, even if there is less overall industry work, they will still do well, which has turned out to be the case. “We do a lot of very good work here. I believe in adaption, and we have people knocking at our door because of it. Even though the budgets are getting tighter, we are still very busy.”
Research, Instinct, and Fast-Paced (machines)
I had to know what he, as an industry insider, thought about Linda Hamilton as the new Terminator lead. “The big studios do a lot of research; they know exactly what buttons they are pushing because they believe in the data studies they do. Interestingly, it’s the smaller studios that don’t believe data and just go with their gut feelings.”
Did he actually buy the insane yellow Lambo? No, but his appreciation of fine machines goes on with cars and fast bikes being traded, upgraded, exchanged, bought and sold as he sees fit. The occasional day at the track driving at ridiculously high speeds in what are essentially road-legal race cars and race bikes is still part of the vernacular.
But some things have changed. There is a new, much more serious girlfriend. There is less surfing as he has had some recent health issues. Nothing serious, but surfing requires a very high level of health and fitness. His diet has changed; shockingly, he is now mostly vegan. “Not for the politics of it, I just feel better. I never thought I would have given up bacon! But I’ve lost 40 pounds and feel great.”
There is also more of a plan for the future, although he still has trouble thinking more than a few months in advance. When the time comes, the plan is to sell all the fast expensive toys, rent out his house in Venice, and move to Costa Rica where his brother currently lives. Down there, he hopes to teach art and help kids develop the skills that allowed him to move to a new country and follow his dreams. Despite his live-it-all-today ethos, it sounds like he does have an excellent later life plan.