We have been telling stories since our creation. It’s part of the way we were hard-wired. We tell stories in everything we do; jokes, art, media, or just talking to co-workers at lunch. The odds that there is one unique idea that the billions of humans that have existed haven’t yet discovered is a virtual impossibility.
There’s a well known phrase that states…”There are no original ideas. There are only original people.” This is never more true than in the world of entertainment, where the phrase may be augmented to state…“There are no original ideas. There are only original executions of those ideas.”
Pick up a magazine, a book, or a newspaper and read about any highly successful person, no matter their field. To attain the kind of success that makes them newsworthy and notable in the world, they have had to do two things: 1) learn and understand the rules in their field, so that 2) they could know which ones to break to be able to get ahead.
And therein lies the paradox: you have to be able to do both in order to be truly successful. Rules are made to bring order and to gain conformity in an area that might otherwise be chaotic. Breaking the right rules is about innovation, creation, and finding new paradigms. The trick is in knowing which rules to break and which ones not to.
Look at the history of art. Truly famous artists—Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, Picasso, Henri Cartier Bresson, Gertrude Stein or Kurt Vonnegut –are those who broke with the rules of their time and created a genre all their own.
In our Living Actor Classes, we talk about how Hollywood is full of original ideas and original creative people that have been cornered by the rules. We are constantly reminded that this town is full of actors, writers, producers, directors, actor/ directors, writer/ directors, producer/ directors and how hard it is to succeed. We are seldom made aware of the miracle of living in a place where you can quite literally throw a stick and ignite an entire production. I often joke with our students by saying: “If we were all locked in this room together as a result of some unforeseeable disaster. When they eventually dug us out, we wouldn’t all be sitting staring at each other! We would have written a screenplay, musical, puppet show, dance extravaganza!” That is the JOY of living in Hollywood!
And yet we are surrounded by rules that don’t support our craft, Google “Acting in Hollywood” and you will be inundated with articles on what to do and what NOT to do.
Now I challenge you to look back at moments that made entertainment history, unscripted moments where the filmmakers broke the rules and ask yourself, “What rules am I going to break today?”