Bill Hader Helped Me Over My Work Slump

I've been feeling a little BLEGH about the movie industry lately. This is for a number of reasons...my studio is having a rough year, the movie I'm working on is hitting some creative speed bumps, and, quite simply, I've been doing this for almost ten years now (which is long enough to make anyone feel a little jaded). As is the case with middle management in any industry, I've moved up high enough now to be exposed to some of the behind-the-scenes machinations, but I'm also not in a place where I can enact the change I feel is needed.

All this Sony drama isn't helping either, obviously. It's put a damper on all our spirits here in entertainment. By the way, here's a great interview/article from Deadline on George Clooney and his viewpoint on the whole fiasco.

SO. I'm feeling a little underwhelmed. A little unmotivated.

That is, I was until I read this delightful feature on Bill Hader from Fast Company.

Billy Hader has got it figured out, you guys.
Oh, Bill Hader! I was in like with you before, but I'm absolutely in love with you now. The piece details Bill's rise from reality show PA to SNL star to leading man, writer, and dramatic filmmaker. The whole article is really interesting, but the big takeaway for me is Bill's attitude toward work, which is - when you're feeling unfulfilled, switch it up.

So simple, yet such great advice! At numerous points in his career, Bill found himself hitting his head against the creative wall, and instead of bemoaning his plight, he simply chose to switch tactics. And that's really how he found success. Here's a quote from Bill in the article that describes pretty much every person who has ever moved to LA:
"When you move to L.A. or New York, it's easy to get a little lost and forget your original goal. I tried making a short film. I put some money into it, and watched the footage back, and just thought, 'This is terrible.' It didn't really come together, and I was too embarrassed to show it to anybody. Then my longtime girlfriend and I broke up too."
But listen to what Bill did next:
"So I knew I had to do something new just to have a change of pace in my life. When I saw a friend do this show at Second City, where he was taking classes, it seemed like the thing to do. I knew every Saturday I'd have someplace to go and do something creative."
So Bill started performing improv. Soon after, Megan Mullaly noticed him and made the all-important recommendation to Lorne Michaels at Saturday Night Live. And that was that. Boom - major switch up! Immediate success after years of feeling unfulfilled. But, just as he had before, Bill knew at some point he was going to have to leave SNL and switch things up again. He said he knew it from the start, because Dan Aykroyd gave him this advice after his third show:
"You'll get to a place where you come in, do your impression, do your character, play a game show host, do whatever's needed of you, do it really wellโ€”you're a pro at itโ€”and then you clock out and go home. Once you know you're just clocking in, though, it's time to leave."
You are so smart, Dan Aykroyd! And this applies to any field. When you get to the point that you're just clocking in, it's time to leave. It's time to make a change. And Bill did! Well, he's in the process of doing that. He left SNL. He's taking forays into dramatic acting. He's mixing it up. And I'm so happy for him. And happy for myself that I read this article and was reminded that I have the power to make a change.

Now listen, I'm not advocating you do anything crazy. Don't quit your job tomorrow to become an organic turkey farmer or become the Next Great American Playwright. (Or do? You know yourself better than I do. I'm certainly not going to do anything that drastic myself.) I'm just saying - when we get frustrated or bitter with our situations, what is holding us back from switching things up? Just ourselves! Know when it's the right time to make a change. Know that it has to come from you because it's not your job's fault or your boss' fault or your industry's fault - it's you and how you fit into it. Be open to changing that up, whether it's a tiny thing like a change in cubical location or a big thing, like finding a new job.

At first, Bill (like all of us) thought the only road to success in the movie industry was by PA-ing on reality TV shows...because that was the road he was on. It's when he opened his mind up to alternative roads that he found both success and real creative fulfillment.

So this is me, opening myself up to change and opportunity, in whatever form it presents itself! It's not the movie industry that needs to change - it's me!

And I'm ready for it.