Saturday, October 16, 2010

If You Build It, He Will Come

I guess it's usually misquoted, people usually say, "If you build it, they will come." But in Field Of Dreams, Kevin Costner's character hears "If you build it, HE will come." I guess, in a way, it actually works the way it was said originally. I'm realizing that I am a BRAND, a BUSINESS. I'm no longer just an actor with a 'B' job. I think as artists, it's hard to think of us as a business and well, to even think with a business mind. I just overheard a make-up artist on set say she'd never worked in an office. She said that the joke with her fellow Emory classmates is they're not good at math. "That's why I date Jewish men so they can figure out the tip." But what I heard was, that she's an artist, she doesn't do the 'business thing' it's not her strength. I also saw a tweet from Felicia Day today, mentioning digging up W-9's and getting credit reports and that the business stuff takes longer than the creative at times. I'm rambling a bit, there's a lot of stuff rolling around in my head lately.

One of my teachers, Richard Lawson talks about the misconception of an actor and as a character. He'd take two tapes (before digitally recording critiques at The Beverly Hills Playhouse) and hold them up. He'd say, "This is you as the actor, this is you as the character. They look identical, but they are different. You have to learn to let that character go. You created it, put it out there and now it's done." I took that literally and said, well my 'acting career' is that over there, disconnected from me, Mark, the person. They say that you aren't your career or your bank account etc. But I think it is a part of us. Richard is great at branding himself, he's now teaching workshops to empower actors to create their own projects and build their reels. I took the first two pilot courses and really dug it. It's grown and changed over the years.

So 'If you build it, they will come' - or 'he will come'... You have to build your brand. I think that there are people that are genius at it and others that would rather jump off a bridge than do it. I heard that when Robert De Niro was starting out, he'd go to meetings and do like three or four parts to show them what he could do. He hustled. He's a self-proclaimed private man who isn't the outgoing charismatic star like Clooney. He did it his way, he did what he was good at. I think Ashton Kutcher is brilliant at it. He has been very fortunate, apparently landing "That 70's Show" on one of his first auditions. But... he has worked his ass off since then. He's created his own shows, shows that HE likes and wants to make. He has jumped into the web world, the film world, politics. He's active, he was one of the first A-Listers on Twitter and still is. He knows how to brand himself. Felecia Day... I don't need to go into how brilliant she is at branding herself, we all know that, but it's worth mentioning. I respect her so much, she's creating projects for herself, engaging with her audience and fans and does it with such class and charm. Bravo!

A producer I was working with about four years ago had seen my website, at the time the front page had six images with text over them: actor, director, producer, photographer, designer and like contact. He said, "the problem with your site is that I don't want to know the guy I'm casting can shoot my kids Christmas photos for a hundred bucks." I changed my site within a month. Why? Who was this guy? A big time producer? No. He was just a guy with a point of view. It made sense. This business likes to 'see' people as being good at one thing. It makes it easier to hire. A director won't be threatened if he's an actor who's only an actor. Another friend mentioned just having a site for the actor, so for three years during our developing, shooting, editing and promoting Bannen, I had a shitty one page site up. "The cobbler's kids have no shoes" theory in place. As a multi-hyphenate I've struggled with what to do next, what project, what skill. It's freaking annoying. It's paralyzing too, cause I'm a perfectionist and want to do whatever I'm doing perfect and great. So for years I made lists of things I WANTED to do. And every year I'd look at it and be disappointed that I hadn't achieved my goals.

Starting and completing Bannen has been probably the single biggest and most influential goal I have accomplished that's for sure. So much time and energy went into it. I (not alone) pushed through so many personal and professional blocks along the way. I've seen things about myself that I'm not proud of (fear, anxiety, worry, resentment and... yeah fear again) and a whole bunch of things that I have gotten better at. One of which is being able to stand up and say, "I did this" and not apologize. To put myself out there and not try to hide behind it or to put myself down for all the things I didn't accomplish or do 'perfectly.' I've learned that I have something to give back, my experience and the tidbits of information that I have gleaned from this enormous undertaking.

So what is my BRAND... Screw it, I'm a multi-hyphenate. I'm a guy who enjoys doing a whole lot of creative things and when focused and committed, I can accomplish anything. I just need to trust that I'm enough and that I know what I know (as Milton Katselas would repeat and repeat).

And today, I know that I am very grateful for an amazing, talented and supportive girlfriend, great friends, family and collaborators who believe in me when I don't.

I guess when I say "If you build it, HE will come," I mean that the MAN I've always wanted to be shows up. I'm grateful to be truly, LIVING THE DREAM.

Former Sony Executive Michael Stradford suggested the title for the Bannen Behind The Scenes piece on me,"THE MAN." So there you have it, when Stradford says it... so it is.