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

Saturday, June 28, 2008

On disappointment..

We all experience disappointment ... sometimes it's a minor thing that passes - nearly without notice, other times it's a razor-like paper cut that never seems to heal.

Because of its very nature, the business of show can create more reasons and occasions to be disappointed. Going to hundreds of auditions to land the few jobs available, for example.

A very smart beautiful woman once told me that the most difficulty she has looking as she does is that she disappoints so many people.


Because she has a certain type of beauty, people expect her to behave the way she appears. She doesn't do what people expect her to do, so *they* are disappointed she doesn't turn out to be the woman they imagined because of the way she looks.

She also doesn't date much, so needless to say she disappoints a lot of people who would love to go out with her.

Imagine yourself having a gorgeous, somewhat delicate look when the way you actually live your life is very down to earth, enjoying lots of outdoor activities, playing tag football and getting dirty.

For people who only see your appearance and imagine you therefore *must* behave a certain way, the imaginary person and the real personality do not compute. They are disappointed you are not the person they imagined you are.

It's the same with actors who appear to have a certain type of personality on screen, but are nothing like the roles they play in person. Disappointing.

OK, when we hire people for crew and cast a film, I'd love to hire *everyone.* But I know those who aren't selected for this particular project will be disappointed. It doesn't matter that I have a gig in mind for them on another project, because I can't talk about it now.

And here's an apparently well-kept secret, especially from actors: We're hoping-to-goodness you've got the goods. That you can nail the role. No matter how much or how little experience you have, no matter what sort of training you've received. When you walk into the room, we fervently hope YOU are the ONE.

That YOU will make the role your own and suprise us with your talent and skills.

The myth is that we're always looking for reasons to say no.



We want to button up the project. We want our cast to be in place, ready to go to work. Especially on long days after seeing so many people: we want to go home to spend time with our families. We can't do that if we haven't yet found the exceptional performers to fill the roles.

Another truth: when an actor is passed up for a role, it may feel like a "personal" rejection because acting is something a person does - with themselves, by themselves (even if they're in a scene with a hundred other actors).

But it's not.

In some cases, the best actor is not hired because the chemistry won't work with the rest of the cast.

In other, big budget films, the best - or "right" - actors may not be hired because the studio has ordered specific actors to be used, believing the miscast actors will draw a huge box office. But people don't come to see a film that turns out to look so seriously miscast. Audiences stay away in droves.

A couple things that do negatively influence casting decisions these days: stories of heavy drinking, drugging or being difficult to work with. At one time, these problems would be tolerated. Today, very few actors with this sort of reputation are hired -- *unless* they are drawing hundreds of millions of dollars to the box office, because it's expensive to work with dysfunctional actors.

But what happens in the industry - when that troubled/trouble-making actor has his or her first "lesser" box office success (let's call it what it is, a *bomb*), he or she is immediately shut out because it has become too expensive to hire that person on a number of levels.

I know in some cases people who have put up with the bs of the arrogant, abusive, addicted actor can hardly wait for them to make their first bomb, because that actor will find themselves out of work, refused jobs and have to start over again to prove themselves if they still want a career.

Hopefully those actors will see the light and get treatment or seek the help they need.

If I knew or coached an actor like that I would tell them what people are saying about their addictions, habits or behavior that will cost them jobs now and in the future. Especially if I witness that sort of behavior.

I have, in fact, told some actors who suffer from addictive behavior what will happen if they don't change their ways.

And the actor has either taken the information to heart and sought to solve his/her problems, or have left because they did not want to address self-destructive and addictive behavior at that point. Or don't believe there is a problem - at least that's what they told me.

I'm sure they were disappointed .. perhaps thinking, "What has that got to do with my acting?"

Well, for one thing any addictive behavior blocks feelings; understanding and tapping into the feelings of a character is the currency of acting. Kinda essential. This lesson has been learned the hard way by many of our top performers, who realized that the only way they could continue to grow as artists is to do it clean and sober.

It's worse than disappointing, it's heartachingly painful to see great artists deteriorate as people and as performers because they refuse to address their addictive behavior - and the problem with many 'stars' is that there are plenty of sychophants around them to feed those addictions until the money runs out.

As for my own casting process - working with as many actors as I have over the years, believe me when I say I'd love to cast everyone! Hire all the fantastic crew people I know! Provide jobs for everyone!

But of course that can't happen, and so I have to keep in mind the one boss to serve - the audience. To serve the audience, I need to make the most careful decisions about who works with us in front of and behind the screen; making sure they're right for the role and that the chemistry between everyone clicks.

Nothing hurts worse than to see a promising film that is so obviously miscast.

I often reflect on all the disappointments and victories I've experienced -- which have landed me right where I am. It's not such a bad place to be.

In fact, I wouldn't have it any other way.

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  • At 5:27 AM, Blogger Jarrod said…

    Another gem I'll put in my tool box if I ever audition for another film project! It makes total sense too, because no decent human being gets off on rejecting others or making a personal game out of it. It's a waste of time and not someone I would want to work with anyways.

    Thanks CP!


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