One of the first things everyone learns when they get into this business is that they have a choice: You can either be an asshole and treat people like crap OR you can you can be kind and respectful to everyone you work with. And, by everyone, I mean EVERYONE. Not just those who can help your career, but the grips and stand-ins and assistants who work just as hard but don’t necessarily have the reach or influence of a top-flight director or television executive. As someone once told me: “Be nice to the people you meet on your way to the top because you’ll probably meet them again on your way to the bottom.”. And it’s true. Believe me, I’ve seen it happen. Powerful individuals – at the top of their game one day; reduced to a mere afterthought the next. And, in each instant, there was little if any sympathy to be found. People have long memories. They’ll remember those who treat them unfairly. Alternately, they also tend to remember those who have treated them with kindness and respect.
I bring this up because, today, I was presented with an incredible opportunity that came my way from a totally unexpected source. I met this individual on set several years ago and we struck up a friendship. She was interested in getting into scriptwriting and producing, two subjects on which I’m fairly well-informed, so I offered her some advice. Over the course of the past few years, we’ve kept in touch, updating each other on our respective careers. Then, last week, she emailed to me ask if I had time to talk. So we chatted this morning. Apparently, her hard work, perseverance and, of course, talent, have finally paid off. Things are moving quickly for her and she needed some advice which, as always, I was more than happy to provide. But that wasn’t the only reason for her call. It turned out she had another opportunity, this one for me. I was touched. It’s an incredible project and a real honor to be in the running. Totally unexpected but greatly appreciated.
All this to say, in the words of the immortal Frank Burns: “It’s nice to be nice to the nice.”