Directors should take acting classes, and actors should write, direct, and produce at least one short film in order to maybe not be so self centered.
Really though. I don’t care what industry you are in. If you care about what you are doing you should really try being on the other side of the table. If you design- you better wear those clothes. Try them on – get a sense for how those materials behave on the body and how they make you feel. When I had my glove company – every pair went on my hands first. If I felt one itch or tightness, or anything that wasn’t a feeling of pure luxury – I wouldn’t use those materials.
I’ve been on both sides of the table of a casting room and it’s a powerful learning experience if you let it be. When you’re casting – you want people to be prepared – not freak out – be a real person – bring their uniqueness to the role – be nice about it and go home. When you’re auditioning you want the casting director to give you proper attention – be warm and respectful – hire you – or invite you back. If each had to swap places every now and then there would be more understanding all around.
I’ve been producing the entire time that I’ve been doing everything else creatively – out of necessity and also out of care for things going well. When you have that experience as an actor it shapes you – makes you more valuable to yourself and the industry at large for any project you want to launch, and it stops you from self centered behavior. Once you’ve produced you will think twice about what problems you dump on a producers lap – instead you will become more solution oriented and a joy to work with. Producer credits are sometimes thrown around and added out of negotiation or vanity sake – but if you really get in there and hands on produce – even just one project – it will open you up to what it really takes to get something done from start to finish.
In my acting training we always had a few directors in the room taking classes too. Big props to them. Some directors are secretly wanting to be actors – but some are truly quite shy and would rather steer the ship quietly. It was always astonishing to see them get on stage for the first time and try to connect and communicate with another person in the ways that they often ask of us. It is not easy to deconstruct life and put it back together. It is not easy to risk making a fool of yourself or exposing areas that you would otherwise keep private. It’s not easy to express the level of honesty that makes performances soar. And as a director it’s not easy being responsible for the entire project -if it succeeds you get the glory, but if it fails you get the pain. It’s an undertaking that takes vision and a great resolve.
It’s very easy however to fall into the trap of self centeredness in this industry. We’re kind of called upon to be narrow minded in a way because so much focus is required to gain ground. Swapping your side of the table may just help make that less so.
Plus – we need more of us out here producing, writing, directing and learning from each other so we can get more stories told and make an even more substantial contribution.
Photo by Dennis Dortch 2016, Los Angeles, CA Dress by Top Shop, Camo Trench by Mossimo