The Best Collaborator

I saw an article being passed around on Facebook and Twitter this morning from Vanity Fair titled "Sam Mendes’s 25 Rules for Directors"

1. Always choose good collaborators. It seems so obvious, but the best collaborators are the ones who disagree with you. It means they’re passionate, they have opinions, and they’ll only ever say yes if they mean it.

BOOM. You had me at 1.

I sat and looked at #1 and scanned across my mental list of colleagues and collaborators and realized something. MY WIFE is a great collaborator. This epiphany is coming off of an impromptu collaboration session we had last night (right before she fell asleep watching TV)

Now, I'm not saying this to butter my wife up or wax poetic on love and marriage. Well, maybe I might. I tend to do that.... but thats only because I love my wife... madly. That's not why I'm writing this. I mean, I'm always showing her samples of stuff I'm working on. She reads my scripts. She looks at headshots. Reads resumes and watches actor clips with me while I'm casting. She is usually the first person that sees a rough cut, hot off the presses from whoever is editing. LAST NIGHT.... I showed her a few rough cuts of scenes that I shot last week and she did what she usually does... she told me what she thought... directly and honestly. Her best feedback is the instant feedback. Not thought out and carefully crafted critiques but the knee jerk reactions. When she shoots from the hip, She nails it. She can be super critical... of anything and everything. and many times it pisses me off. When we go see movies... she is TOUGH on those movies folks. Tougher and less forgiving than I am for sure. And while she is caring and loving and super supporting of everything I do, she is tough on me too. I would LOVE for her to see my work or hear my ideas and simply ADORE everything and tell me how amazing I am. But where's the value in that? She doesn't like something, she lets me know. Even though I often find it frustrating. Even though it makes me want to stomp my feet and throw things and go hide somewhere.

Her collaboration is not as much a proactive contribution of creative ideas as it is a collection of critical reactions. If an actors performance is flat, she calls it out. If she doesn't like the music choice for a scene or an opening sequence, she scrunches up her face and looks at me and shakes her head... slightly but assertively. Like when I come up with a unique outfit for a party or a dinner date. She is the queen of the VETO. She sees an edit that doesn't work, she'll make a quick frustrated sound as if someone just pulled into a parking space she was waiting for or someone cut her in line at the market. Even when she is on set with me, she is watching, observing, interacting with everyone... cast and crew... and let me tell you.... if someone is bringing the wrong kind of energy to my set, my wife is all over that. And that person usually doesn't get hired again. To be fair, she DOES enjoy movies. Good movies. She DOES love my work. In the end she is usually very happy with the end result. I enjoy striving for her approval.

So after reading this article and going back over and over to #1 on this list... I realize how valuable Kristen is as a collaborator. She is passionate. She has opinions and she only says YES if she means it. I actually just fell in love with her a little bit more.



Leave a comment

    Add comment