How Fun Are You to Work With?

December 21, 2011


“Be nice to people on your way up because you meet them on your way down.” — Jimmy Durante

We’ve all heard the stories of enfant terrible movie directors storming on set and making it a living hell for the entire cast and crew. Or an A-list star who won’t leave the trailer unless his latte is foamed to perfection. We’ve heard about the sleazy producer who thinks sexual harassment is funny, and the drug addled DP who can’t show up for work without a morning bump. These stories have been around since movies were called flickers and since starlets were strictly under contract. Some of these stories may be accurate, and some have been inflated through word of mouth with a dose of magnificent hyperbole.

But, the reality of the day-to-day Hollywood machine is often quite different. For instance, The Descendants‘ newcomer Shailene Woodley says she was nervous about meeting costar George Clooney. “And then he came up to me, gave me a big hug, and said, ‘Welcome, sweetie.’ And immediately the intimidation factor went away…George is the least intimidating person on the planet. He’s always on the set hanging out with transportation guys or craft service guys or the dolly grips, playing basketball with the dudes. He’s just a normal guy…from Kentucky with a heart of gold.”

Hollywood is a very competitive and challenging place. Before one actor speaks a single line, there are writers, producers, development folk, research teams, and location scouts working around the clock to prepare for production. It takes an enormous amount of time, effort, resources, and money to turn the magical words on a page into magical images on the big screen. So, Hollywood power brokers have little time for actors who can’t show up to work on time and with a good attitude. It’s an enormous privilege to be cast in a feature film or TV show. If you are so honored, be sure to make the most of it. By greeting people warmly or making an effort to remember others’ names, you will not only be regarded as a pleasure to work with, but you’ll increase your chances of working with members of that team in the future. As big as it is, Hollywood is a small town, and people tend to work with those they’ve had good experiences with in the past. Empowering yourself with positive social skills could make all the difference in your career.