How to Survive Filmmakers’ Big Egos

I’ve seen insecurity in producers, directors, other actors—any number of individuals, many times over.  Much is expected of them, they’re carrying a lot of weight on their shoulders and a great deal is riding on their ability to produce a quality performance or product that’s going to be well received and generate top ratings or big box office numbers.  I eventually developed a sense as to when poor conduct is project driven as opposed to, shall we say, strictly ego driven.  I was told a long time ago to put myself in their shoes, which I was eventually able to do.  And on a smaller scale, I’ve learned firsthand what it’s like to have to pull something off I’m not at all confident I can do, even though others are counting on me to make it happen.  The anxiety and fear can be intense.  Add to that a lack of sleep, and you can see how easily someone’s normally pleasant, well-mannered demeanor can fall by the wayside.

Knowing why it’s happening doesn’t excuse the outbursts, rudeness and temper tantrums, but understanding that it has nothing to do with you, and that you can’t take it personally will help you get through it.

When someone pushes your buttons, instead of striking back, let him know you understand, you’re on his side and you’re there to help.  When I see someone I’m working with bouncing off the walls, I can often diffuse the tense situation by walking up to that person and purposefully asking, “What can I do to help you?”  You have to put your bruised feelings aside, and instead of walking away from an unpleasant person, direct the offender’s attention to the job at hand.  Remind him that you’re both there for the same purpose, and if you can, try to get him to see another perspective.  Let him know you’re there to help, offer solutions, and try to convince him you’re on his side—that you’re there to support him, to do your job and to be the best (PA/assistant/whatever) he’s ever had.

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