Bert Schneider and Bob Rafelson were strolling in Central Park. It was the early '60s, and both men were unhappy, for different reasons. Bert had risen quickly through the ranks of Screen Gems, the TV arm of his father's company, Columbia Pictures. At a tender age, he had reached the lofty perch of treasurer, and had been selected to head the division, but in a bit of reverse nepotism, his father blocked his further advance. Bert was frustrated and angry. Rafelson, meanwhile, had drifted from job to job. He felt he was too smart and hip for the work he had been doing, was cut out for better things.
Schneider and Rafelson were in the habit of getting together at lunchtime, bitching about their jobs and talking about their dreams. Rafelson's dream was a company of his own. "The problem in moviemaking," Bob told Bert, "is not that we don't have talented people; we don't have people with the talent to recognize talent. Take France, with the New Wave, or England with Tony Richardson's company, Woodfall, the neorealist films of the Italians—these people exist here as well, but the system for allowing them to flourish doesn't exist, there's no encouragement for them. What this business needs is not better directors, but better producers who are willing to give directors with the ideas a chance to do films their own way. It's not just final cut, it's final everything."
Bob liked Bert precisely because he had short hair, didn't smoke dope, and knew the business end of the business. He listened to Bert complain about the management of his own company, then said, "Why don't you quit?"
"And do what?"
"Start a company with me."
Schneider did quit Screen Gems, in 1965, and joined Rafelson in L.A., where they did form a tiny company, Raybert—later renamed BBS with the addition of Schneider's friend Steve Blauner—that transformed the industry.
- Peter Biskind, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, 1998, Simon & Schuster
Recommended Films - Head, Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, The Last Picture Show, Hearts and Minds, Days of Heaven
Recommended TV - The Monkees