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I Walk the Line

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You Say You Want a ResolutionThere’s a tradition this time of year called the New Year’s resolution.I’ve made a few but learned very quickly that there was no point in partaking in the exercise unless one intended to keep it. About five years ago I was coerced into this one: to be nicer. It was a pleasant notion but around the 2nd or 3rd of January I found my patience wearing thin on that resolve as a result of outside factors in my neck of the world. I didn’t want to break my promise, so I added an amendment and revised the resolution to read: to be nicer … whenever I %&%$*^ please. The addition of just a few words instantly turned a daunting task into something I was able to accomplish.The other problem I’ve found with the exercise is that it tends to be a little bit too me-oriented. In the spirit of the season it always seemed appropriate to set a task that benefited others as well as myself. So, with that in mind, I offer up a few below-the-line New Year’s resolutions that I encourage anyone to freely pilfer.I will not genuflect or be overly obsequious. This is one of those fine line items. It’s not intended as a rallying cry or call to arms. One should show proper respect to the bosses. With their position comes responsibility, duties and, hopefully, experience. Yes, there are periodic numbskulls but let’s assume for the sake of generalities that we’re not dealing with the exceptions. The idea behind this is to take pride in one’s work. It doesn’t mean one has to trumpet the immeasurable assets you bring to the job, simply not sweep them under the carpet or allow someone to take credit for your contribution.I will be a mentor. This is probably the quintessential resolution that embraces that so-called spirit of the season. No matter how seemingly humdrum one’s task is on the set, there’s invariably someone outside the circle that aspires to do your job. You can see him/her taking furtive looks in your direction and mentally assessing your process. It’s instinctual to be territorial and view that sort of thing with suspicion. But if you take a more objective step back, there’s every reason to be flattered by the attention. Spread the wealth, share your experience and encourage someone to adopt the professional attitude that’s so essential to your craft and art.I will be attentive to my family. There are a lot of related issues that apply to this particular resolution but this seemed like an excellent distillation. Film shoots have a tendency to be all consuming and it’s easy to rationalize away the essentials in life with excuses like I’ll let things slide for a couple of weeks and be twice as conscientious once we wrap. I’m not sure whether being away on a shoot is any worse than dragging oneself home in the middle of the night and emotionally shutting down. There’s probably more damage to be repaired in the latter situation. Still, either way, remember that it’s often the little things that mean a lot. Make that phone call, ask, “How was your day” and don’t obsess on your personal travails to the exclusion of everyone else in the house.Do not bow down the got god of greed. This relates to the old saw about short-term gains and long-term losses. In the film industry, there’s the ongoing fear that’s fanned about never working again. Crews are the highest paid migrant workers in the nation and while movie making is never out of season, only the few and the extremely lucky work constantly. The relentless quest for the next job and the prospect of weeks or months between gigs has a tendency to bring out the worst in human nature. It’s often manifested in mercenary behavior that creates a lethal working environment of back stabbing, risk taking and general personal and professional peril. You can only begin to change the dynamic by taking the first step.Resolutions certainly afford the possibility for change and improvement and that’s not to be discounted. Regardless ‘tis the season to reflect and enjoy the comforts of home and the company of friends, and if all else fails you can always resolve just to be nicer with or without a caveat.

Written by Len Klady

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