Fear

2 09 2014

Preface:  I am not judging anyone for BEING afraid throughout this blog post.  Just observing it, and discussing how it ultimately ends up creating a culture of fear in the film business.  And perhaps suggesting that this culture of fear does not help the creative process.

In the last year I have come to the realization that the film/tv business is run on fear, in a lot of ways.

I always had a sneaking suspicion that this was true, as I walked onto set to work, and could feel tension so thick you could cut it with a knife.

But in the last year, I have had an extra-special view of this business, and I see fear at every turn.

To go back in time a little – in 2003 I was working on a play with some great local New Orleans actors.  I had moved back home after grad school in acting, a few years in NYC, and was so pleased to be back onstage.

One very talented actress in the show said to me, “You should do film/tv work.”  I chuckled and answered, “I am really a theatre actress.  I think I am too weird looking to be on tv.”

This same actress was generous enough to insist that I pursue a film/tv career, and she introduced me to her agent, Claudia Speicher – of New Orleans Model and Talent Agency.  At the time, I had NO IDEA just how generous this actress had been to introduce me to Claudia, but I soon figured it out!  This actress had the BALLS to believe in HER OPINION of me as an actress, and introduced me to her agent.  And voila, here I am today.

That has happened to me several times in my career thus far.  Many of those gutsy introductions were made by Claudia Speicher herself – when she insisted that a casting director see me again, even after he/she had formulated a less-than-stellar opinion of me as an actress.  Claudia put me up for roles that were out of my “type”, age, range, look (let’s be real:  roles that they wanted a skinny girl for), and I always gave it my best – and often booked the things that were totally out of my “type.”

But in the last year, I have had glimpses of what life is like on the TOP of this business, in many different areas, and the conclusion I have drawn is that SO MANY FOLKS ARE SO SO SO SO AFRAID TO LOSE WHAT THEY HAVE GOT.  Like maybe even some folks you saw holding Emmys last week, or folks you saw with Oscars not too long ago.  They.  Are.  Terrified.  That the ride is going to end.  That IF they refer someone to their agent, director, publicist, manager, and it doesn’t work out, that it will somehow come back to bite them in the ass.

So many are holding SO TIGHTLY to their little corner of real estate.  And they can’t let themselves share.  They are too afraid.  They cannot do what that actress did for me 11 years ago, and BELIEVE in their OPINION of an actor, a writer, a designer, and give that person a hand up.  They can’t.  They are too afraid of how they will look if it doesn’t work out.  Or they are too afraid of spreading their good fortune around, lest it get spread too thin, and disappear.

To be honest, I kind of understand.  Not that I have ever been in a high enough place to truly experience it – but boy am I working to get myself to be a steadily working actress.  So I can see how, if you reach some measure of success, you might want to hold on for dear life!  Especially if, like me, you have a family who is depending on your success to thrive.  Especially if, like me, you have been at this for ohhhhhhh…… over 25 years.

But it makes for a miserly world.  And it feeds into a culture of fear.  And I have to tell you, I have never been a part of anything creatively that really WORKS when it is driven by fear.  I have been a part of projects that were full of difficult subject matter, were dark and disturbing, BUT the atmosphere of the WORK was one of generosity…. great work came from that every time.

My acting teacher, who I love for being so brutally honest sometimes, suggested that the people who have spoken highly of my writing or acting were not lying, per se, but were doing a very American-style blowing of sunshine up my ass.  AND that, for my writing in particular, if the folks who read it were so blown away by it – then they would have DONE SOMETHING to at least point the project in the right direction – or point me as a writer to a literary agent.  This broke my heart a little bit, as this was kind of my secret fear… there’s that word again.  “They didn’t mean it, it’s not that good, I am not that good.  If it was so good, why hasn’t there been more help in getting me or it somewhere?”  HOWEVER, although I can’t get into the details, this is more than likely another aspect of the ‘FEAR’ at work in the industry, instead of actually sunshine blowing up the asssssss….

Moving on…

Because I represent kids/ young adults as an agent, I find myself having to explain the following phenomenon to those I represent who are having moderate success.  It is quite a wake-up call for many young actors that the acting world doesn’t work like you “think” it should.

I have had actors of mine wonder why, if their work was so amazing on a movie or tv show, and everyone TOLD them how wonderful their work was, then WHY those people wouldn’t refer them to a Los Angeles manager, or that director doesn’t THINK of them on future projects, or that producer doesn’t go after them for their next show.   WHY WOULDN’T that star actor I worked with, who told me those amazing things, try to help me further my career?  Especially if we are totally different types, and I am not a threat to their acting work?   WHY WOULDN’T THEY?

It just doesn’t work that way.   It can be so hard to keep trying and trying in this business – to be given compliments, to watch shows get picked up that you are major parts of, to watch films that get great reviews – where you are in pivotal scenes….. and then to have it come to nothing new.

This endless pursuit of waiting for somebody to believe in you enough to NOT be afraid to say, ‘You need to look at this actor, he/she is extraordinary.’  “LOOK at this script, this writer has some important stuff to say.”  It can eat away at you after a while.  When you see that everyone is too afraid of losing their little piece of paradise to share.

THIS, and so many other similar reasons, is WHY I am going back to doing Suzuki, teaching it – digging back in to a time when I felt a little more control.  I can control continuing my training, continuing to put my energy into the area in my life that I want to flourish. I write nearly every day, now I am taking lessons with an acting teacher and teaching myself.

All of this because I want to LET GO of FEAR.  And remember that maybe I will be the only person to believe in me.  And maybe that will have to be enough.

living-without-fear


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