Monday, August 24, 2009

Trust, But Verify

Ronald Reagan's presidency began while I was at the University of Colorado. I majored in Economics, and I never thought his "Reaganomics" plan would work, even though I was able to triple my salary while he was President. One take away from the Reagan years for me was his famous quote "Trust, But Verify". I value that quote and heed the advice in both my personal and professional relationships.

That advice has really come in handy as I navigate the waters of the entertainment industry. Relationships are a two-way street. Maybe, I'm an idealist, but deep down I believe each person ultimately wants to have a win-win relationship with whomever they are in that relationship with. As long as we understand the purpose for the relationship, and we strive for win-win, we will be successful. If we get in our head and the ego starts controlling things, we lose the objectivity and "I" becomes more important than "them" and things go awry. If you keep the course, stay present and maintain focus on the goal, things can be beautiful. Of course, not all relationships are meant to be, but putting these things in place will give you a fighting chance.

There are many relationships in the entertainment industry. One relationship I am questioning these days is that of the professional actor and student filmmaker. As a professional actor, I enjoy appearing in student films because I see many advantages - I am acting in a fun (life's too short to do things that you don't love and aren't fun) project, meeting new people (perhaps a future Steven Spielberg or Nora Ephron in the making is directing), obtaining additional footage for my reel, the film might get noticed while on the festival circuit, and I'm working (albeit usually not paid but I'm doing what I love and I'm having fun).

Lately, there are a few film schools in town whose student filmmakers are getting bad reputations as being very disrespectful to the actors they book to work on their projects - they aren't caring for their resources. Case in point, this weekend, I was to do a student film with one of these schools. Initially, I took an objective approach. The student filmmaker contacted me to be one of the leads. After learning about the project, I was excited to film it. However, after all the miscues on the student director's part, way too many to list here, I decided enough was enough and I did not do the project. This film project provided a whole new meaning to "Murphy's Law". The moral of the story: film students - please learn to take care of the actors and treat us with respect. That means have a plan, communicate and deliver on all of your promises.

My takeaway? I'm going to continue to do student films, but I am going to be much more picky than I have been - trust, but verify.

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