I have been in our business, the entertainment industry for over 50 years, I am a Golden Globe nominated actress and was long listed for an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress for THE LION IN WINTER. I am proud of my career and my achievements, but believe me friends much of it was hard won and certainly not without its disappointments and setbacks. I am writing this as a letter of friendship to all those young people aspiring to be in our industry.
I have been making short films while living here in Idaho, to be near my family. Last year I made a short film COUGAR, of which I am very proud, it is a very short simple story for our time. It was made with completely local talent, crew and cast and in local recognizable locations. Before long you will see it here online. From me down to the sweet beleaguered camera assistant, who was told to lift that, hold this, move that and do things I might expect of an acrobat with three arms, he did as he was asked with a seriousness, the determination and professionalism of a man earning a proper salary on a multi million production.
It is this kind of care and dedication that will ensure your success in a business that really does not care about you, only what you can bring to the table preferably in terms of money and high profile. Hopefully we will get this film some exposure in Festivals and if we are lucky on ITunes or similar. However, although that is the commercial objective of anything we do…. to get it seen by the public, it is the hard work and creativity that you bring to your job, that will give you the real satisfaction. That is what I have learned in all my years in this business… so as I have said before love it or leave it.
You will be rejected more times than you can imagine, you will see your dream job going to someone else, when you just know you could have done it better. You will be “let go” from a job you knew you were doing brilliantly and if you were acting, had the notices to prove it. It happened to me and when I whined to my agent, he just said: “You’re lucky it’s the first time it’s happened to you!”.
A beloved uncle was a stage manager who picked up pneumonia touring in the theatre in the UK in the 1950’s working long, long hours, toting scenery, props and staying in freezing boarding houses up and down the country. I have worked with actors, who stagger on to the stage with fevers of 101 and up, I danced on stage with two broken toes. Peter O’Toole lost the tip of his finger while we were filming, picked it up, went to the local hospital, had it sown back on and went back on set. Anthony Hopkins fell off his horse in a full suit of heavy armour and broke his arm on set. He finished the scene a week or so later with his arm in plaster. Think I have told you the story of the wonderful 2nd Unit Director Arthur Wooster, who carried on filming at sea, paying for it on his credit card, when the Producers ran out of money and failed to pay the crew and actors on time.
It is this dedication and love of what you are doing that will get you the satisfaction you desire. That and the friendships you build, the respect you get from your fellow professionals, not necessarily the fame and fortune that we all aspire to. And finally, most importantly your pride in your contribution to a successful production, enjoyed and appreciated by many. Our fans, our public are our best friends.
So friends, if you have a tough skin, a robust constitution and powerful staying power, go for it! But if you are only in it for the fame and fortune, forget it, the politics alone will kill you!!!