We had the good fortune of connecting with Djamel Bennecib and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Djamel, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?
As a translator for screenplay and voice dubbing as well as a script doctor, hard work has been the key to helping me succeed. Not counting hours, working on weekends and holidays if necessary is both a reality and a necessity for any entrepreneur. I network constantly by writing articles on my blog, frequently updating my LinkedIn and Twitter accounts and contacting film/TV production companies (primarily from the US, Canada, UK and France) regularly. I treat my independent clients (those whose projects are not yet affiliated with a production company) the same as I do the big companies. I respond to my clients’ questions as quickly as possible, even if I’m busy. I aim to help them in a way that will best help them further their career and always offer the same respect and trust they’ve placed in me. I also try to work and surround myself with the best people possible; our line of work remains a team effort. Flawless quality and collaboration is essential for the success of my company, it’s imperative for attracting repeat clients as well as new ones interested in using our skills and talent for future projects. And finally, I’m always open to new ideas that could improve the company and reach even more clients, being flexible is a good way of obtaining more opportunities and confronting setbacks. Approaching projects with an open mind allows me to attain even more success and appreciate each triumph no matter how big or small.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My whole career revolves around screenwriting, whether I work as a writer, script doctor or screenplay/dubbing translator. Writing makes me thrive. It is the toughest part in the film/TV industry, the hardest craft to master. It’s a constant struggle, but when words and sentences manage to coalesce, it’s the best feeling in the word. I’ve always loved cinema and TV, and always wanted to write and make my own movies and series. I started to love translating when I moved to America. Learning a new language and really getting involved in a similar but still very different culture, became a passion: again for words, for learning new things, for adapting a reality from one country to another. And this is basically the work of a translator working in the entertainment business: it’s not only a question of languages, it’s a question of culture, historical backgrounds and adaptation. This business isn’t easy (and that’s an understatement). To overcome the challenges, I had to persist and never give up. That is the key. Working in Hollywood or the business in general is like climbing Mount Everest. It’s hard to get near the top, and once you’re there — the work doesn’t stop. You can lose everything overnight. The goal is to keep up at all costs, day and night if necessary and try to do the best work possible. If you do, you may not even get a thank you or hear anything from anyone but you’ll get more gigs in the future for sure. On the flipside, if you turn in less than stellar work you’ll definitely hear from someone and may not so easily obtain work again. I’ve learned to never take anything for granted. I’ve learned that people remember the bad and rarely the good, but I’ve also learned that it’s team work; we’re all in this together trying to achieve great things and you can’t do it on your own. Networking is key and building a team to work well with is mandatory for survival — and beyond that, to thrive. What I’m the most proud of with my company, is being able to link France with several English-speaking countries — but mainly the US — as I strive to develop projects with a mixture of both cultures and backgrounds… but I also strive to make my company as open-minded to the world as possible. This is something… visceral to me: as a Frenchman with North African background and at once deeply Americanized, I’m completely (and by nature) a mixed breed and I want this to translate in my business.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Los Feliz, forever! This neighborhood has always been and is still probably my favorite one in the city. There are so many spots to hang out at, and have lunch/dinner and drinks in like Alcove Cafe & Bakery and Little Doms. The great Griffith Park is nearby, awesome to go hiking, play tennis or golf. If my best friend came visiting, I’d then drive him from Los Feliz to Silverlake, Echo Park, then I’d take the freeway all the way to Culver City. Culver City has changed over the years and there are definitely great spots to go to. And it’s only within an inch of Venice Beach!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my sister, a professional translator, who gave me her passion for translating, for words and languages and encouraged me to start up my own translating company focusing on screenplays and cinema/TV in general over ten years ago. I wouldn’t have developed my company without the advice and inside knowledge of my friend Charles Fathy, CEO of Encore Voices for whom I work as a dubbing translator. My business wouldn’t still be up and running if it wasn’t for my two writing partners and editors, Graeme Black and Darryl Webster. My business as a script doctor (and writer) wouldn’t have been possible without the teaching of my UCLA instructor, the great Peter Russell, who masters screenwriting and TV writing like few other people in Hollywood and who taught me everything he knows.