Last March, when we were starting to plan our
summer internships, I was disappointed by the massive bogusness of the
so-called “business challenges” on the TV show The Apprentice.
From the posts over on the discussion groups, it was apparent to me
that people were really excited to see each new episode, and then
consistently disappointed when the management challenge turned out to
consist of two hours of inspecting chocolate bars in a factory, or
hawking on street corners to get people to go into a restaurant.
Management challenge, indeed! Those are two of the lowest-paying jobs
in New York City. Most of the people on the streets handing out flyers
are homeless and working for minimum wage.
At the same time, I noticed that there were very few decent
documentaries about the software development process. Since the idea of
our summer internship was to build a new product, from beginning to
end, during the course of one summer, I thought it would be a great
opportunity to have a filmmaker come into our offices and film the
whole thing. And I thought that the audience that's excited to see
inside the business world would be just as enthusiastic to get a view
of the software development process at Fog Creek.
So I put out a call for a documentary filmmaker.
We got a half-dozen serious applications and picked Lerone Wilson, a
recent NYU grad, to invade our office for the summer and make a movie.
Instead of paying for the production ourselves, we provided a minimum
subsidy, so the filmmaker could maintain complete editorial control. My
friends at Thought Equity, a stock footage company, loaned Lerone a great HDV camera. Dan Bricklin, the co-creator of VisiCalc, the first electronic spreadsheet, agreed to appear, as did Lisp-luminary and e-commerce pioneer Paul Graham, currently a partner in Y Combinator, which provides seed funding for startups.