April 20, 2009

No. 1 on the call sheet

This interview with J.J. Abrams about his process for the new "Star Trek", coupled with a Fast Company article about McG, where he likened directing a big budget movie to being hired as the CEO of a $200 million company that only gets to launch one product, put a new idea in my head.

So, I'm about a month away from starting serious casting for my feature film, and it occurred to me, for as many actors who want to be stars, how many of them are conscious of the responsibilities, from a filmmaking perspective, that stardom brings?

I'm reminded of a conversation Tom Cruise and Jada Pinkett Smith had with Tavis Smiley
just before the release of "Collateral", where Tom said, at the time, "I've never lost the studio money". It struck me at the time because, honestly, it hadn't occurred to me that he, as the star, felt personally responsible for making sure that the people who invested their money in his performance would see a return on their investment.

As a director, I'm reminding myself that it's not just important to cast someone who can give a performance, but someone who can also be a responsible filmmaker: supporting the performances for the other actors, treating onset crew with proper respect, being engaged in the evolution of their character with the director and the writer, using their fan base to promote the film, and, in many, many cases, helping to bring in the money to make sure there even IS a film to make in the first place.

It sounds like J.J. was very blessed by Chris Pine's onset presence. He was the star of the film, and he knew it, and acted appropriately.

I hope other actors are taking note - if you want to be a star, act like one. And that doesn't mean being a diva. It means being someone that a filmmaker and a producer and a studio and your castmates can put their trust and faith in. Being a star is about having broad shoulders.

Anyway, just something on my mind right now.