Ok…wait, silence is a form of communication. I mean sure, we all realize that sometimes it isn’t what you DO in life…what you DON’T do…speaks volumes. Yeah, so I get that, but my point about silence is that it really is NOT a form of communication and never will be. What silence does, between ALL humans, is it leaves too much room for confusion, aswell as a massive amount of misunderstanding and assumptions. Now if you wish to have the collateral damage, unhappiness, frustration, misery and chaos in your life increase…then feel free to continue to function by a form of silence. You’ll look up month after month and see how much time you waste trying to “explain” or “resolve” things between virtually every person in your life. Well for me, no thanks, as life is really hard enough already. For me, direct and clear communication is the only way to go.
What has become humorous to me the older I’ve gotten and the longer I’ve been in entertainment is the number of instances and individuals who almost seem to THRIVE off of confusion and misunderstanding. This is the opening statement by far too many: “Well I thought that they (he/she) knew that…” However you finish this statement it comes from a LACK of communication. The sadder part for me is the clear communication is FAR too often simply defined as “confrontational” which is utterly ridiculous. If you don’t know the difference by age 25 between communication and confrontation then you need to attend some type of communication skills class or read a book.
But for the purpose of this Blog, and being in Show Business, let’s take another angle on the subject. Let’s look at the TYPE of communication within the context of Show Biz that is so deadly when you leave it to silence. In today’s entertainment world, all over the world, you have TONS of projects being done because technology has made it so. Therefore we have 3 specific areas where silence is deadly: Communication in INITIAL meetings with representatives, communication in an ongoing way with representatives and communication as it pertains to being “involved/booked” on projects that are outside the scope of LEGIT union contracted work. I say this because almost ALL of your work experience with legit union jobs will likely not require a great deal of communication.
So the important factors that I’m pointing out are related to foundational communication, ongoing communication, and scope/commitment communication. I’m not sure why our community (of actors), in general, LIKE…actually LIKE leaving so much to “chance or the unknown or for assumption” but it is truly DEADLY. Just don’t do it. Line out a series of questions before meeting with representatives, sit down and look at past intimate relationships and some of the difficulties you’ve had and then translate them to being represented. And when you see “signs” of inactivity or confusion or difficulty in the relationship…COMMUNICATE about it. I sadly believe a large reason why intelligent people, often highly educated, who happen to be actors like “silence” is because if you don’t face or address something head on that is subjective…it is easy to believe it doesn’t really exist or that it really isn’t an issue. It is called, constant avoidance, and it is bad.
Lastly, when it comes to projects, now that so many are either non-union, New Media agreements or some form of a “modified” SAG-AFTRA contract…you MUST implore communication that is both WRITTEN & SPOKEN. Virtually every hour of every day you have amateurs, yes amateurs, creating content. Does that include you…I don’t know, but the word amateur exists for a reason. Sorry, but this is one of the problems with our society over the last 20 years…everyone gets a trophy. Look, it isn’t a bad thing or a judgment, but it is…what it is. If you, or the person(s) leading a project don’t have YEARS and YEARS of experience producing, editing, writing, directing or acting then yes…it is an AMATEUR project. That does not in any way mean or assume that it will be bad when it is done or that your experience will suck…but it does mean that communication UP FRONT and throughout helps PROTECT your experience and most notably for me…how you feel when the project is OVER.
Ask, inquire, talk, and confirm in an email ALL of the details, scope, expectation, travel, hours, food etc. etc. details associated with any project that you choose to be a part of at all times. Without it, there is a very HIGH probability that at some point…if not repeatedly, you will find yourself saying: “…but I thought that you would have done…” (Fill in the rest of the non-communicated assumption that is NOT a reality). All of this chaos and upset is really unnecessary if you’re willing to take command of your life, not live in fear, and truly realize that spoken up front communication is just as normal…as breathing. Get good at it, love it, embrace it and value it…and it will change both your life and career.
Always on your side, @TheKevinE