Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Monday, June 02, 2008

A great filmmaker, a better man

I learned more about Sydney Pollack at a directing seminar I took several years ago from him at Sundance than I did about the technical aspects of directing.

But learning about Sydney Pollack *is* learning about directing, especially directing actors. Because he had consummate respect for all his collaborators. He had compassion for and worked well with actors others considered "difficult."

His description of helping Barbra Streisand learn to cry on cue without any artificial assistance told me of a person I'd like to emulate. He used understanding, empathy, sensitivity, heart and grace.

Speaking to him socially after? He was the same.

Professional, artistic, humane, insightful, intelligent, soulful, generous, kind and so much more.

After hearing the many stories of idiosyncratic, mean, crazy and dysfunctional film directors, here's someone I could relate to, whose work I appreciate ("The Slender Thread," "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" "Tootsie," "Out of Africa," "The Way We Were," "Absence of Malice," "The Firm," and several more) and whose approach to his colleagues and actors I love.

That one session - it lasted only 90 minutes - meant so much to me. I hope I thanked him properly when I had the opportunity to shake his hand.

Mr. Pollack was an accomplished American Academy Award-winning producer and director, as well as an accomplished actor. When he died last week (July 1, 1934-May 26, 2008) of pancreatic cancer, I thought, I'm just one of millions affected by Mr. Pollack in ways he probably never realized.

Not just with his work. But by being himself.

Thank you so much for all you've shared with us and done for the industry, filmmakers, actors, audiences and humanity, Mr. Pollack.

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