October 25, 2014

On Working In The Creative Industries...

by Chris Randall
 



(Sorry for embedding this from Daum, and the inevitable confusion that will cause, but two things: first, I'm a shareholder, so fucking take your Korean YouTube and like it, and second, the Paley Center, for reasons known only to them, removed this talk from YouTube, but left it on Daum. *shrug*)

When I give my talks at colleges or whatever, someone always, 100% of the time, asks this exact same question, and I used to give a similar, albeit less well-formed, answer to what Louis CK gives here. I first saw this a couple years ago, and ever since, I've been giving more or less this exact answer, lifted wholesale.

Every word of his answer is absolutely true and perfect, for any of the creative industries. If you're of the n00b persuasion, and are thinking of coming in to this business, you should memorize his answer, and make it your holy scripture. If you're attending one of my talks or booking me for same, or planning on meeting me in real life and asking me this question, prepare yourself to hear this more or less verbatim.

(In point of fact, the entire talk is illuminating, and 55 minutes well-spent; a lot of inside baseball that is television-specific, but most of it translates to our business quite well.)
 
 
 

12 comments:

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Oct.26.2014 @ 9:09 AM
bleen
The condensed version of that I tell all artists when we hit the studio to make "a record":

I have two rules here: 1. Have fun, and 2. Don't be an asshole.

It's incredible how those two simple things make the process (not only while making records, but life in general) a whole fuckton better.
 
 

 
Oct.26.2014 @ 8:33 PM
bongo_x
A very limited number of people are absolutely necessary. Not you. Make your presence a net positive.

1. Don't be an asshole. No whining, no complaining. Unless your mom is on fire right now keep your problems out of work.
2. Make it happen, not excuses. Make everyone else's job easier and make them look good, especially the one in charge.
3. Be good at what you do.

If you can't get the first ones together the last one doesn't matter. Most people seem to think that you get good at what you do and then you can be a prima donna. You can find those sitting at Starbucks during the day trying to figure out why everyone they work for is such a jerk.

And this; if anyone wants your opinion they'll ask for it. If they didn't ask for it they DO NOT WANT IT. You'll know if you are supposed to be giving your opinion by whether you are being paid for your opinion. People in entertainment are paid for their opinions. If in doubt, don't. The standard answer is "sounds good" followed with a smile.

There will be many times when someone asks for your "honest opinion", insists on it, "no, I really want to hear it", you give it to them, and it bites you in the ass, hard. There will very rarely be an instance where someone asks your opinion, you give it, and you move up the ladder. Choose wisely.

Of course many of these things apply to every job somewhat, it's just amplified in most entertainment jobs. In most normal jobs you aren't going to be fired within hours because you don't have the right vibe, or hired regularly because they like hanging out with you.
 
 

 
Oct.27.2014 @ 8:47 AM
chaircrusher
In every artistic endeavor that requires teamwork, the assholes wash out quick. Everyone wants to be a musician, or a film-maker, or whatever. It's always a crowded field. Anyone who can't show up, do their job, and be pleasant is so easily replaced, they usually are.

The very occasional certifiable genius (I'm thinking ... Prince!) can get away with being a prick. But trust me bub, you ain't no genius. So be competent and be nice or go flip burgers.
 
 

 
Oct.27.2014 @ 9:44 AM
DGillespie
Similar advice I received when I was an 18 year old considering working full time in recording studios: "Be someone that someone else wants to spend 12 hours in a room with."

I've found that applies pretty well in life in general.
 
 

 
Oct.28.2014 @ 12:37 AM
atlastop
Watched that whole video. Louis CK is always entertaining and a sharp observer, even on such a dry subject matter.

I find it kinda funny that she asks about the right 'fuck you' attitude, implying that behaving like a prick will get you ahead.

Creative geniuses rise to the top, despite their bad attitude. Not because of it.

Also, why do young people need to ask? Like they need permission to be an asshole.

"Hey, man? Why you such a dick?"
"Oh, I asked this famous person at a lecture... and he said. 'All people at the top of their profession are total dicks'... So I figured I'd start early".
 
 

 
Oct.28.2014 @ 7:34 AM
Chris Randall
In my experience on the subject, that "one guy with the idea" (per the video) falls in to two camps. The first is the person that just wants to make things whatever it takes: the unintentional asshole, but on the whole fairly easy to deal with as long as you do your job. I myself fall in to this category when I'm in charge of things. Not ashamed to admit it. The way to deal with this person is forward momentum.

The second category is the person who believes their own hype, and is just a dick for the sake of being a dick, to satisfy some power fantasy they're attempting to live out in the narrow context of a recording studio. I have extensive experience with a lot of folks like this (*cough* Michael Gira *cough*) but I won't name any names. The way to deal with this person, other than giving them the junk-punch they so richly deserve, is to leave. It is hardly ever worth it. At best, it ruins your ability to enjoy the music of an artist you respect. At worst, you get all the illness that comes along with existing in a heavy stress environment, plus the resentment part.

-CR
 
 

 
Oct.28.2014 @ 8:37 AM
jimmyhowzer
Sound advice for those starting out in any vocation. Just be a normal, well-adjusted, rational person who is keen to help.

When starting out, especially in a creative sphere, insecurities about your own abilities can lead to all sorts of weird personality issues. I learned more effectively on the job by biting my tongue and keeping my head down.

Further along the career path, I definitely made more than a few mistakes by being too vocal about what I thought was the "correct" way to go about things. When you are passionate about what you do, it's easy to get wound up and seem like a dick.

You have to be consciously tempering your passion with a professional attitude. It's a skill that needs to be mastered and constantly worked at just like everything else.

I agree with Chris R about those two types of people. I've learned over the years to spot the second category a mile off and politely avoid them! Even if the gig is high profile or well paid. Resentment will build up if you keep working with these types of people. Be nice, work hard and try and work with nice people if you can.
 
 

 
Oct.28.2014 @ 9:53 AM
bongo_x
>I find it kinda funny that she asks about the right 'fuck you' attitude, implying that behaving like a prick will get you ahead.<

I thought that was funny too. It seems to me you can spot the problem from the first second, when the first thing she does is talk cutesy about how funny her voice sounds (fishing). And then talks more about herself. And then wants to know exactly what kind of asshole she should be to get ahead. His reaction from the minute she starts talking is funny. Maybe it's just me, but I thought he did an incredible job of telling her personally she needs to change her attitude without embarrassing her.
 
 

 
Oct.28.2014 @ 11:16 AM
Chris Randall
I concur. That was a master class in handling, as well.

-CR
 
 

 
Nov.01.2014 @ 2:34 AM
TomE
When teaching Narrative Film production this session I spent the first couple of sessions being the worst nightmare slave driver motherfucker that the little poppets had seen, and when I had finally bullied them into psychic collapse we had a good session about the people they might meet, and the people they might BECOME if and when they end up in that particular vat of tears.

Thing is, it stripped off a lot of the bullshit 'auteur' they'd encrusted in high school. Now it was a more pleasant journey where we all had a goal to share, and I hope it helped them when they finally booked their actors. Jesus fuck, bottom tier actors are the worst for this kind of thing.
 
 

 
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