Socrates had a number of useful things to say. Know thyself and whatnot. But perhaps his most important message was to constantly keep in mind how little you know. As a new director, I’m constantly doing my best not to B.S. anyone, over-represent my knowledge, or generally make the mistake of assuming I have any idea what I’m doing.
This attitude has its pros and cons.
On the con side, I have wasted countless hours in the past month patiently listening to everyone’s advice, even when I know it’s complete hogwash. Nearly everyone involved in the production so far has invested at least an hour in trying to persuade me to abandon the “one take” idea. I wish my teammates invested their time in trying to figure out ways to make my ideas work, instead of trying to figure out ways my ideas won’t work.
On the pro side, listening to everyone’s doubts forces me to bolster my arguments which, in turn fortifies my own convictions. If nobody questioned me, it would be too easy to misstep.
Up is Down, Down is Up
All this being said, and in full recognition of my humble status as a first time director of a micro-budget movie, it is intriguing to notice the strange power a director is afforded. The script is now being passed around town and appearing on tracking boards. Managers and agents are twisting my arm to meet with their actors. People I don’t know are sending in audition tapes reading for parts. I don’t even know how they got the script. I’m having lunch with gifted actors who – in some cases – are begging me for a part.
The floor of my room is covered with headshots of eugenically perfect human beings. Beautiful women I would normally be terrified of. Handsome guys who probably bench pressed guys like me in high school. Basically, people who would normally ignore me are suddenly treating me as though I wield some modicum of power. Don’t they know I’m a writer? It’s astonishing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m tickled by the attention. And no disrespect to anyone – I know what it means to struggle. But Hollywood is a strange machine.