There is a rampant elitism in the land. It is particularly virulent in our entertainment industry but it reaches across the culture and manifests itself as a methodical assault on the American Middle-Class’ self-esteem. Labor is the enemy. The working man wants too much. Society can’t afford to sustain the “Dream,” while executives reap biggest-ever profits.
Our contribution to the process of creating entertainment is essential. No less than any collaborative endeavor, whether musicians in the orchestra or specialists in sports or the military. The process cannot continue without our participation. Yet, we have somehow devolved to a state of almost invisibility. This isn’t good and it pisses me off.
Above-the-Line/Below-the-Line, Upstairs/ Downstairs, Noblemen/Commoners, Brahman/Untouchables. A fair argument can be made that we have been willing participants in this precipitous decline.
True or not, we collectively must set goals and create strategies to reposition ourselves in the eyes of our industry. This must begin as a public relations/communications effort tied to the facts of our actual contribution.
It begins every day on the set. We, as individuals, are the best foundation for this new beginning. How we see ourselves and position our work relationships with our colleagues, employers and clients ultimately defines how we are to be treated by these constituencies as we engage in the process with them. In fact, if we take the opportunity to frame how we are defined, we start getting out in front of the direction this goes in.
A few principles I try to remember: What we do is essential to the process. If it weren’t, we would not be invited to participate.
Just because the people we work with and for don’t really know what we do, doesn’t make them bad people. It’s on us to communicate, in a clear, strong, non-adversarial or condescending way, our commitment to the project, the process and to excellence.
While focusing on our specialized tasks, we can demonstrate clear awareness and integration with the larger view/big picture. A band without a drummer has no beat, and a soloist who doesn’t prepare, will lose his audience.
Do your homework.
We must embody the perception we want this business to have of us. It’s the first step in resetting the position we have in the entertainment industry.
President, IATSE Local 695