“Have you ever noticed how hopeful show biz people are? Actors want to act and star in movies, writers want to hit it big, directors desire to get their movie made and distributed. The list of hopefuls in film goes on and on. Some of these people will do nearly anything to make a connection and get ahead.
They want to make it in Hollywood. They want to be star actors, directors, writers, whatever their department they want big success. They know they have talent and a lot to offer and they are not ashamed to tell everyone. They will state, they are “only working this job until they get their break”.
They wonder at times why the rest of the “Industry”, “The Business” doesn’t recognize how talented they are. They exclaim, “If I only had a shot, got a break, then everyone would see”. They believe in themselves, they are sold on themselves and they think everyone else should be too.
These hopefuls think getting ahead means making the right connections. It does.
They think if they only connect with and get to know the right people they will be welcomed into Hollywood with open arms. Yes, most likely.
To connect with industry leaders they eagerly hand out head shots and their resume to those important people they meet. They lug out their script or demo reel on DVD and ask others to look at, to read or to watch their talent. It doesn’t matter where they are when they meet this ‘industry mogul’ they want to connect and make an impression on them. They clamor to get their materials into the hands of those who might be able to help them whether they are at a car wash, restaurant, gas station, party, on the street, anywhere and everywhere.
Sometimes they may be rebuffed, the person they approach doesn’t want their materials. Instantly, that big name producer, director, writer or star suddenly becomes an ‘U93e0)@(EU@#’ to them. They complain that the person didn’t take their materials and brushed them off. ‘Don’t they know I am going to be big someday?’ their thinking goes. Yes, they may.
Sometimes, they are resentful when their friends or others get an opportunity or a break that they didn’t. Then they secretly, or not so secretly, hope or wish bad things upon the person who “got lucky”, or “slept their way up” or “bought their way in” or “we born into a showbiz family” or “knew somebody”. Whatever the flavor of disparaging comments of the day are they banter them about with callous disregard.
Somehow they think if only they were understood, given a chance then everyone would know how big they were going to be.
Not all people are like this. But some are. You may even know some. You may be even one but let’s hope not.
The problem with this person is not, that they may not be talented. They may be extremely talented. Talent is not the issue. Business smarts and wisdom is what is lacking, the ability to know and understand people is what is missing.
Talent may be there. What is missing is critical.
The necessary people skills that help people connect with others needs improvement. The focus of this person is in the wrong place. While it is great, even necessary, to believe in oneself, how you go about connecting with others is more important in many ways.
These hopefuls, these wanna be’s on the ladder of success just don’t understand why no one “gets them”, sees their talent or opens the doors for them. I’ll tell you why.
I think these hopefuls imagine succeeding as going to a private Hollywood ‘big name’ party.
Here is what I mean. You are invited to a private party. You go there to be seen, to connect, to meet up, to have fun, to get laid, to eat and drink the food and beverages the host supplies. You primp, you peacock, you expect others to take notice. It is a big spread and a big deal and you are invited in. Everything is supplied. The place, the people, the food, the drink, the entertainment. All you have to do is eat, drink and be merry. Lap it up.
In your head you imagine that someone looks at you and states, ‘Of all the parties, in all the private mansions, in all of Beverly Hills YOU walked into mine… I have been waiting for this moment, My god there is no one like you, you are going to be a big star. Let me help you’. And it happens you are discovered! You are in for the big ride to stardom and success. WOW!
Okay, it could happen but it is so rare that it will you would be better off having another plan of action.
I get it, we get it, in fact everyone in show business gets it – you want to work, you want to be somebody, a contender, you want to make it.
We all do. We all think the same way. That is the issue.
So how does one make it? How might you open the doors for greater and easier success? Begin by considering this:
Everyone is in it for themselves. ‘WIIFM’. You know what those letters stand for! ‘WHAT IS IN IT FOR ME?’ Since this is in the forefront of all of our minds, when you approach someone else their first thought, or one soon after is, ‘What is in it for me?’
Let’s return to the party analogy for a moment. It is a gathering, you don’t have to do anything but show up, you are welcomed in, you eat someone else’s food, drink their drinks, spend time in their abode and you enjoy yourself. You might dress or be flashy, but you meet people who can further your career or your interests. You have your elevator pitch for each person you meet. Your attention, for the most part, is on you, your needs, your desires, your breaks and how others can benefit you. Well, it’s true isn’t it? Your concern is your career, right?
Well, that is everyone else’s concern as well.
If you want to succeed in show business, ‘the industry’ or ‘Hollywood’ you have to change your thinking.
Do not think of it not as going to a private Hollywood celebrity party think of it as going to a Pot Luck Event.
That’s right Hollywood Success is Pot Luck!
Here is what I mean. What IS a pot luck event is all about?
It is about everyone else. It is about the other people! At a Pot Luck EVERYONE brings something to contribute to the well being of all involved. At a Pot Luck you bring something of value to share with others.
Whatever your motives are for bringing a dish you do not show up empty handed. You bring something to share.
Perhaps, your reason for bringing the dish is that you want to ‘blow everyone’s mind’s with your amazing Tiramisu’ or your 5 Bean Salad. Maybe, you just hope everyone likes your cheesecake. Perhaps, you bring your favorite beer because that is what you want to make sure they have on hand or maybe you want others to discover it too.
Whether secretly hoping to make a memorable impression or simply happy to share a dish bought from the deli you bring something for all.
Movie making, television, filming of any kind is collaborative. Everyone person is a valuable member of a team. Each team member performs specific tasks to help get the movie made. Everyone is in it together.
A saying I learned early in the film business is, ‘ be nice to others on the way up because you will again pass them on the way down’. While this is a nice reminder for at least one reason why you should be nice I think there is a more important reason.
The real reason is that birds of a feather flock together. Like minded people gravitate towards each other. Successful people hang together. Friends seek each others companionship and company. Like attracts like.
The people who like each other and hold each other in high regard and find value in each other and their projects, wish each other well. They want to work with each other as often as possible because they enjoy it. They benefit from the experience and the project benefits.
The people who complain ‘I can’t break in, I can’t break in’ are part of the very reason they can’t break in.
As I have been pointing out, if all the attention is only on you and your career you will have a much tougher time of it. The focus needs to be on other people and it needs to be genuine.
The fact of the matter is, those successful people who work together and maintain a tight core group that is difficult to get into, are busy working together with people they value. They have developed relationships of friendship and mutual respect. Their core group is tight for these reasons. They want to work with the same people again because they contribute to each other and the projects and they have fun together. They have good relationships.
You will find your core people and you will make inroads as you pursue your career. There is always hope that you can penetrate one of these talented core groups, and you may, but you have to have something to offer them beyond your talent.
You have to learn how to make everything a win/win for people. They have to win while you win. It can be no other way. If it is only good for you then there is nothing in it for the other person. You must first address their ‘What is in it for me?’ concern.
Do you see that t has to be about the other person first? It cannot be about you first. No one likes someone who blows their own horn and who is only focused on self. They will potentially like someone who is interested in them and asks questions sincerely.
You need to explore how you can help other person and you win in this relationship. You have to have a collaborative frame of mind. You need to consider, how do you work together, how can you contribute to other person first?,
Those who know me know that one of Rex’s Rules is to GO FIRST. That means you need to do it before anyone else does it. Your reputation will precede you if you focus on helping the other person win first. You will become known near and far as the person to know and include on the team if they perceive you as someone who adds value to them before ever asking anything from them.
You see you have to bring something to the party. When you bring it in this manner you will blow their minds because most people seeking a career do not think this way. They only think about their career goals.
Someone once said ‘ You can get anything in this life if you help enough people get what they want’. This is true.
People respond positively to people who provide value and they don’t respond to or they respond less than gloriously to people who don’t so get known as some one who does. Get known as a true team player, a collaborator, someone who knows how to fit in and who contributes.
It comes down to this: If you hand me your picture and resume I know what you want. You want me to hire you or refer you.
Okay, so I think what is in it for me if I hire you? If you state “I am talented and your project will be better off because you hired me’, then your answer is still only about you. Your answer has nothing to do with me or my concerns for the project. All you have done is pitched you. Do you understand this? It is all about where the focus is.
You gave me your resume for me to give you a job.
People thin,k ‘you have to do something for me, here is my screenplay, my headshot, my reel.’ They don’t consider that out of a 24 hour period with 8 to 16 hours dedicated to work, family, friends, that taking a couple hours to read your screenplay or watch your movie means less time for themselves, their business concerns, their friends scripts and movies or their family. It is a big chunk of their time. You have just asked someone to give you value, to invest their time, energy, interest, potentially money in checking you out with absolutely NO GUARANTEE of RETURN ON INVESTMENT!
Do you get that? You ask someone to give up their time, or carry around your materials because they are important to you, but the person, at that moment has no way of knowing whether these materials will be important to them. How could they know this?
It is the equivalent of someone knocking on your door while you are at home asking for your time or money. It is like getting a sales call during dinner time it is not wanted. When you do this to another without providing value at the very least you are a pest.
At a pot luck everyone brings something to serve everyone else. It is about contributing and sharing. It is about coming together and giving. IF you want to succeed don’t ask first, give first. Help out first. Provide value first. Solve a problem for the person first. Refer a resource, provide some needed information or timely assistance just because it is the right thing to do not because you want to get ahead.
When your heart is in the right place, when you are genuine and your interest is in serving or helping the other person they will recognize it. When the other person gets the feeling that their interests are in your heart then they are more apt to respond in kind.
When you want someone to listen to you be the first to listen to them. Take all the time necessary to really hear and listen to what they say, what they are about, give your time and energy and attention to them first and then they are more likely to respond in kind.
When you behave like this, most probably at some point, they will ask for you head shot and resume. They will ask to read your screenplay or watch your movie. People like to say yes to people they like. When the ‘industry leader’ asks you for your materials that is far better than you asking them.
The principle of the ‘Golden Rule’ is ‘treat or do to or for others as you would have others treat or do to or for you’.
If you want people to wish you success begin by wishing them success first. If you want them to value you value them first. Wish them well, celebrate their successes, understand, sympathize or empathize with their problems, difficulties and disappointments. How do you want people to treat you? If you want them to recognize you as a person of value recognize them as valuable first.
Keep a couple of principles in mind to guide you.
The first is ‘People like people who are like themselves’. This means it is important to have something in common. You should have something you share between you. It could be values, mutual respect, your station in life, interests, sports, fishing, cars, came from same neighborhood and more. There can be a bridge, a common ground, something mutual you have interests in or are able to discuss.
Second, ‘People tend to say yes to people they like’. So, if you want people to say yes to you and remember you and to possibly hire you they need to like you. They need to want to be with you and hang around you. So are you the kind of person another can easily like?
The consideration for them is: Would they want to go camping with you? Would they want to be working somewhere with you? Are you the kind of person they would want to have around in an isolated area with the rest of the people?
This is a big concern casting directors have. Their job is to find and recommend talent for hire. They need know that the director, the producer or the star would enjoy your company and would want to be around you on location for a significant amount of time?’
They may think of you as the most talented actor they have seen in decades BUT is not just about whether you are talented. It is ABOUT can they TRUST YOU to get along well with everyone.
Yes, they want to know you are a pro, that you can deliver, that you are not intimidated by who you work with, that you can carry your own, that you are confident and positive, that you can hit your mark, know your key light and your lines. Yes they want you to be able to act and navigate a set and in front of the camera.
Most importantly they want to know you aren’t going to be someone who the ‘powers that be’ regret bringing along. When they send you up for a job their reputation is on the line.
What is in it for them? You make them look good and the producers and director and star thank them for such a wonderful find. Their future jobs and relationships are determined by how well they people read you. Their concerns are beyond just the acting ability.
The same is true for anyone in the business. The same concerns apply whenever hiring. Can you do the job is a given. Do they want you around to do the job is a great concern? Do you add to them and the project or do you detract?
Which do you think is more important when thousands of dollars per minute are being spent: the acting ability or what kind of person the actor actually is?
Frankly, they could put any competent player in front of the camera and get decent results. We have all seen people on TV and in movies and we wonder ‘why were they cast?’ So remember, this it is not just about how great an actor, writer, director, musician (or whatever you skill is) it is about who you are and the kind of person you are.
Are you a team player? Do you contribute? Is your first concern about yourself or the well being of your teammates and the project? Do you know where you fit in? Are you high maintenance? Can they absolutely trust you?
You need to bring quality to the networking. It is all about the relationships you form.
Don’t ask people to go to bat for you before you have demonstrated your worth and what kind of person you are.
Be genuine, no one likes a phony. Be sincere, be honest, be friendly, be positive. Be interested in the other person and find a way to contribute to them.
When you have these qualities, when you ARE this kind of person, you can be confident that you will begin to make quality connections with the people you meet.
You will get further faster when you are the kind of person people naturally gravitate to. Be likable and enjoyable. Be kind and don’t gossip, don’t spread ill-will. Spread positive ‘vibes’ and get known for these things.
Treat all assistants, casting assistants, producer assistants, like gold. Someday they will be producing or directing or starring in large projects, so be respectful of everyone regardless of where they are in the business ladder. Be nice and respectful to everyone!
If you are known for being friendly, thoughtful and kind people will want to see your other talents as well. If you are truly talented in the acting, writing, directing, other areas, then you have a winning combination.
The true talent comes in being a fine human being. Be the kind of human being we need more of. Be the type of human being we all want to become friends with and hang out with. I want to spend time with the best of the best, don’t you? When you are know as a great person and a talented actor (or whatever) that truly is a winning combination.
It is considered in poor taste to show up to a pot luck empty handed. So offer everyone else the best you that you have to give. When you do these things you will get known as a great person to be around. You will connect up with the right people and you will move your career ahead easier and more quickly.
It is never about what you have – it is always about WHO YOU ARE!” Rex Sikes
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