About heathwilder

Sydney based actor - TV Film and Theatre. Long time Scifi & rpg geek Sensei of Ticketing and I.T. at Sydney Theatre Co. My views are (of course) my own

Givers, Matchers and Takers

I recently listened to a wonderful Ted talk by Adam Grant on Givers, Takers and Matchers and how people described by this metric fare in the workplace and how successful they and their businesses are. Yes it’s a metric, tedand yes that’s something to do with why I like what at first look reads like self-help/HR fuzz, ie: it’s well thought out and supported in evidence, rather than just being opinion masquerading as metaphor used literally.

Givers are the kinds of people who pitch in to help with others work, are generous with advice and open to sharing. Takers are the kinds who are self first and will collaborate only if it benefits their advancement. Matchers are the majority who will tailor their behaviour to the situation, balance their behaviour to the situation and/or share conservatively with their resources.

Intriguingly the statistics point out that the way to increase the success in your team is not to hire more givers but to weed out the takers. A single giver in a team will inspire collaboration in matchers. Conversely a single taker will create an environment of distrust and reluctance to share. Sharing in a taker environment leads to a feeling of idea theft and burnout for givers who end up doing the work of others rather than their own making them unproductive. It’s in these environments that givers rate as the most unproductive members of a team.

What was especially interesting was adding the agreeableness metric. I won’t regurgitate what Adam says much better than I can. However in listening to this really gave me cause to rethink my many work places that I’ve worked in over the years and how I and my teams have functioned.

I truly believe that it’s the responsibility of management to manage the dynamic of their team to achieve results. It’s also true that often middle management is promoted without any supportive training. I do find it difficult to support the opting out that management does with regards to team dynamics. My thought is that it is created by

  1. Senior management regarding managing as either a reactive task or a logistical one
  2. Middle management not having the opportunity to prioritise team dynamics and falling back on solo projects and reactive leadership

Of course I’ve encountered many managers over the years who were very team orientated and it’s been a dream for similar reasons.  I also think this applies to corporate, amateur and government organisations alike.

Anyway Adam Grant’s lectures are short fun and evocative and well worth a listen. Enjoy!

Post mother’s day thoughts

Mother’s day is an odd time for me now. It’s full of marketing and assumptions like most holidays and as a consequence can be a tough time. That being said I had this great memory pop up.

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It was from a particularly tough time for my family in 1984. My dad was in the US and the rest of my nuclear family was living with his parents (long story). I was 13yo and not going to school at the time but picked up the red box edition of Dungeons and Dragons. It was just as I was getting through the Lord of the Rings, a copy that was my dad’s and so obviously had special meaning for me. I was leaning to take solace in my imagination at a time when nothing in the external world made any sense, and was essentially falling apart.image

My first game was with my mom, sister, and grandparents. My grandparen
ts played Lancelot and Guinevere (Freud would have written an Opera’s bookclub best seller).

My mother on the other hand played a dwarf. Before making any decision she’d “take a swig from my wine skin” and then get on with the job of kicking the shit out of some orcs (or zombies etc). Comedy and determination while being surrounded by high lunacy; pretty much sums it all up for her.

 

Redfern Now

Here is a little bit about the episode of Redfern Now that I featured in (This is a direct copy from Australian Television Information Archive).

Dion and Ursula were absolute champs as were the fun and incredibly respectful crew. Loved working with these guys in the location of Parramatta Gaol, which looks like a castle from the outside and feels exactly like it is (a working prison) once you are in.

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POKIES

Episode 2.05
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Ratings: 469,000 viewers (13th)
Written by Steven McGregor
Directed by Beck Cole

Nic Shields spends her lunch hour in a daily ritual at her local club: a little lunch, a couple of games of Keno and then play the pokies. But what started out as a bit of fun has slowly become a problem. Her bank balance is evaporating, and to hide the true extent of her gambling from her husband Eddie, she has re-directed her credit card statements to her cousin Grace’s house. This places a strain on their relationship, but Nic assures Grace she will sort it out soon.

But Nic’s preoccupation with gambling intensifies as she tries to find the money to pay for Eddie’s fortieth birthday party, her son Joel’s school excursion, and a major landscape improvement being undertaken in the family backyard.

A few days later, on her way to bank her employer’s takings, Nic is robbed. The police are called, and friends and family are sympathetic to her ordeal. Although she wants to go back to work immediately, Nic accepts a break from work, but spends her free time playing the pokies. The police turn up during Eddie’s birthday party with the good news that the perpetrator has been caught. But why is Nic so nervous when asked to accompany them to the station?

Cast: Les Chantery as Officer Markos, Kylie Farmer as Lena, Brenda Knowles as Lisa,Ewan Leslie as Mr Parish, Aaron McGrath as Joel, Madeleine Madden as Chloe, Emma Mullings as Kristen, Roberts Preston as Colin, Leah Purcell as Grace, Marley Sharp as Eddie, Heath Wilder as Glen (Lawyer), Dion Williams as Robbie, Ben Wood as Clyde, Ursula Yovich as Nic, Ivan Clarke as Cousin 1, Jesse Guivarra as Dancer 2, Ethel Ann Gundy as Edith, Thomas E.S. Kelly as Dancer 1 / Didgeridoo Player, Glenn Millanta as Officer Abbott, Edward Valent as Cousin 2, Dean Widders as Cousin 3, Yilara Widders as Little Girl, Quentin Yung as Hotel Desk Clerk

Marketing for performing artists

I was chatting with a pal yesterday about the relevance of performing arts in the contemporary landscape and so when I came to work today with a little extra time to spare I started researching.  Firstly I was thinking about my 9-5 job at one of the biggest not-for-profit theatre organisations in the world, but as I went along I realised that a lot if not all of the digital practices used globally by arts organisations are applicable to individual artists and small performing arts collectives.

I’ll start first my linking Aaron Bisman’s (Director, Audience Development for Jazz at Lincoln Center) talk about digital engagement and what it’s worth to us.  The goal here is connecting with your audience, engaging with them and of course converting them to your product (buying stuff essentially).  Some of the key take homes is to be platform agnostic – don’t just instagram or facebook but go out to all platforms appropriately and allow people to share and trend your work.

Where I started with my research was Kevin Giglinto (Vice President for Strategy and Special Initiatives, Chicago Symphony Orchestra) on leveraging New Media.  What the really means is how the CSO used live streaming to engage with audiences.  The message here is clear again – be platform agnostic.  You only help yourself be shared.

The good thing about all of this is not only that your work gets out there to be consumed and talked about but you are also allowing people to be swayed by your work and convert.  That means more bookings for you and it can come in many forms. For a jobbing actor that can be anything from more ticket sales to your gig or bookings by producers to do their gigs.  The former is better for your soul and the latter is better for your bank account.

I’ll finish with a quote from Aaron Bisman

“Your content should be niche, Your community should be inclusive”

Medical Roleplay

Here is a lovely image from some medical training work that I’ve done recently with some ophthalmologists.  I was playing a fellow that was stabbed in the eye at a bar but up until this point has no idea of the injury – fun ensues! I did this scenario with 4 different teams throughout the day, 1 hour each. It’s amazing how different it is every time.

ranzco

Medical Roleplay

 

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 810 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 14 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Casting call

Just had a casting and waited over an hour in a packed waiting room with anxious but annoyed actors. The brief went out at 11:30 for a12:00 call. It was with a new company so some forgiveness was in order.

The commonly purported idea the actors are self involved, lazy or pretentious is one that I’ve never understood. I understand that there are some people out there like that, and some fantastically bad ones at that. And there are reasons for those things. But by and large actors are people with the guts to share emotionally and the experience to pull together as a team on a slightly higher probability than a normalized cross section of people.

The happy things to take away from this experience today are:
A) when the order of arrival got lost the actors all politely took over and reordered by arrival.
B) all actors were pleasant warm and supportive of each other and the poor VERY new reception who was standing in as CD for some of the time.
C) the CD was warm friendly and supportive and thankful for our time.

When bad castings happen (small budget, disorganized cattle call counts as this) friendly and supportive improv. makes a big difference.

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Tagine

So while Sim’s studying for her big film next week and I’ve had a day off I thought I’d make this Apple and Pork Tagine. We’ve had this Tagine for a couple of years but amazingly never gotten around to using it. So with some spare solo time on my hands I thought I’d make this. Note that I’m making it as we speak and I stole the recipe off the interweb and messed with it a lot.

I’m going to make a ricotta & blueberry strudel for desert.

I’ll let you know how it goes

250g pork fillet
1 tbs plain flour
2 tsp olive oil
1 red onion cut into 6 wedges
1 bunch baby carrots,
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp rosemary
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves
1 1/2 cups low salt vegetable stock
1.5 royal gala apples
Fresh mint and parsley
Slivered almonds

Method:

Cut the pork fillet into strips about 3cm thick. Place flour in a shallow dish. Season with salt and pepper. Dip the pork into the flour, so it’s lightly coated. Shake off any excess flour. Heat olive oil in a flameproof casserole dish, over a medium-high heat. Once heated, add the pork in small batches and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, until browned on all sides. Transfer browned pork to a plate and set aside.

Turn the heat down to medium – low. Add the onions and carrots to the pan and cook gently for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pork and spices to the pan and cook for a further 30 seconds, until all the ingredients are coated with the spices. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down, place the lid on top and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Cut the apples into quarters and remove the core (leave the skin on). Add apple to the pork and vegetables. Stir gently and then replace the lid. Continue cooking for another 15 minutes, until the pork is cooked through.

To serve: Remove the cloves and cinnamon stick, and serve on couscous.

Gilty Pleasure

I just finished filming my scenes for the short film “Only Gilt.” It’s based on book by kids writer Paul Jennings and the rough synopsis is “A boy goes to school wearing a bird cage on his head. He explains to his teacher that it is a self-imposed punishment because he blames himself for the murder of his girlfriend’s budgerigar [1]“. No prizes for guessing that I play the teacher Mr Marsden and have the task of performing some relationship dramedy opposite my tween costars Toby and Giselle.

There is always a challenge when working with actors you’ve never met before. You have to pull off an ensemble performance to convince the audience that you’ve known each other for years in the complex status roles the writer has given your characters. It’s not enough to be believable as a solo acting unit. To tell the story effectively you have to mesh as a team.

Now it’s probably me being 50% ageist and 50% paranoid, but I get nervous when I have scenes with kids. My reason is how do they know how to create these complexities in a faux relationship when they really haven’t experienced much diversity of relationships themselves? But here comes the kicker – it’s NEVER a problem. I’ve worked with a bunch of kids in the 10ish range and they are always amazing. Totally committed, completely able to improvise a new relationship and readily able to tell the complex story asked of them – as long as they don’t get personally intimidated, pushed around or emotionally squashed (and unfortunately I’ve seen that happen).

The thing is, I’m less and less sure that amazing acting is important in telling a beautiful story. Wonderful to see, and lovely as a piece of art; great acting can (and should) facilitate the telling of a story such we transcend the liminal borders and feel with the characters; BUT it is by no means necessary or sufficient to the conveying of story.

The keystones to acting (in my humble opinion) are connection to yourself, connecting to each other, and (perhaps most importantly) a willingness to be a vehicle to the telling of the narrative. Yoshi Oida calls this the invisible actor and for my money it’s the most important part of the job. To this date the kids I’ve worked with have been egoless enough to perfectly serve the narrative. It was a fine lesson for me and they have my thanks.

Anyway Only Gilt will be amazing I’m sure. Check out their stuff above if you get the chance.

Acting and Juggling?

Recently a friends put out a call asking how other actors do it.  The it being hold down regular work and still manage to get time for castings, gigs, callbacks, classes and so on.  His recent new job has turned out to be nowhere near as flexible as it was originally marketed as being and he finds himself in a pickle, as we all have at sometime or another. It’s no less of a panic than the episode of Family Ties where Alex finds himself with 2 dates to the senior prom!

The face I made when we didn't make the cut for Optus one80

The face I made when we didn’t make the cut for Optus one80

So what do you do?

  1. Improvise Cleopatra’s death scene and call in sick or
  2. give it to them straight and tell them they can just fire you if they don’t like it.

Either option can cause you intense anxiety which (unless you are auditioning for a Mamet play) can does not behoove good acting.

And how do we pick jobs that give us our freedom whilst allowing us enough money to pay the rent, acting classes, headshots, casting websites and enough cheap goon to drown our sorrows?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

From my perspective there came a time recently where I realized that the halcyon days of doing indy and amateur theatre were over outside of a big advert coming my way. It does seem disheartening that the only way to practice the craft that you studied 20 years is to pay for it yourself no matter how many hundreds come to see you.

So what was my permanent solution? Sadly I don’t have one, BUT a working day-by-day plan helps. My day job is fairly flexible and very understanding and CASUAL because it’s in the theatre industry. I also broadened my focus from TV, film and theatre to looking for more payed acting jobs. When I went to acting school there was no mention of the paid work that’ll give you, if not a living at least a close semblance of one. They are Corporate Video, Corporate Roleplay, Voice Over and Advertising. Stuff I’ve done less of (but are the bread and butter for friends) are Theatre in Education, Puppetry, Presenting & Radio.

Ad promo

Ad promo

I’ve talked recently about how Corporates can be some of the best workshops you’ll ever do.  I think it’s also worth noting that they can also be some of the most rewarding and life changing work that you’ll ever do.  I think back to the amazing performances I saw as a kid at school that got me hooked into acting. If I bumped into any one of those amazing people today I’d punch them in the face (kidding). Main point is that these jobs all pay, and for the most part pay well.  They are highly skilled acting jobs that’ll be appreciated and will help you get by and get more skills and work (if you leverage them). Just with out the built in glam of TV, Film and Theatre (which ironically is less glam once you are there).

Anyhow what’s your take, and how do you make it work? Or what make you lose your mind in frustration? We’re all here to help one another.