Taking Creative Control

The question of the day seems to be from all actors, “When I’m feeling stuck, what do I do to get unstuck?”


First of all, the reason you feel stuck is because you feel powerless. You may feel like you have no say in your career. That everyone else holds the key to the kingdom that you want to enter. Am I right?

THIS mentality of everyone else controlling your fate is what you have to reprogram in your brain.

To do that, you have to work from what inspires you most and the VISION that you want to create. Then, you can identify the steps that YOU can take to get there. What can you build that will attract others to you?

Law of Attraction. We all know it works.  When you are in forward motion, it inevitably will create more forward motion.

You’ve been taught as actors to literally “sit by the phone and wait”. But as artists, you’re supposed to be a creator. Creators don’t wait to be told what/when/how to create. They go and DO.  Painters don’t wait until they have an Exhibit in a Gallery to do a painting. Musicians make their own music all the time – they don’t wait til they get a recording contract to write a song.




Can YOU take the lead and create?


Yes, you can.


Here are my thoughts to start you off. I have 5 steps to GET YOU IN CREATIVE MODE that I scribbled on the back of a script while on a train two days ago. (I grabbed the thought while it was there!)




1. Awaken your creativity.

    • Go to the theater, watch indie film, museum, listen to moving music (Adele always gets me), read a great book, write poetry/prose/ideas in a notebook (not a computer), explore a new neighborhood this summer for some new ideas. Give yourself a period of reawakening. Say, this is my time to just seek creative stimulation. Get in touch with why you are doing this anyway!
    • The moment: when it grabs you, write it down, or record a voice memo. Grab it! If you don’t grab your inspiration, it might pass you by….


2. Visualize yourself doing it.

    • Imagine yourself on set, on stage, imagine walking thru that stage door, or getting picked up at 5 am at Columbus circle to be taken to set! Imagine yourself in a production meeting. Imagine yourself in the theater watching yourself on screen. Imagine yourself in a log cabin by a lake, writing your masterpiece. Visualize yourself doing the thing you want to do.


3. Start sharing the idea with encouraging people.

    • Tell a friend, someone who will ONLY encourage you
    • Tell a colleague that has experience in the area that you want to be working/playing/creating. Share with someone that will “get” you.
    • TALK ABOUT IT WITH OTHERS who have similar dreams as you.
    • *The key to this step is to really be in community with others who have similar goals/dreams


4. Gather people around the idea.

    • Have a meeting/dinner in your home to flesh it out. Make it social. Make it official.  Plan a hang date with like-minded people who might be able to contribute to the cause. Keep it free and fun.
    • Start to figure out who you will need on the team to get it started. Writer? Director? Actors? Start to approach people to involve the in it. Invite them to coffee or skype.


5. Make it real on a calendar.

    • Plan steps on a calendar. It’s not real until you set a date.
    • Start with the end point of where you want to get to. Then go backwards and fill in the steps that you need to take to get there.
    • Oh yeah, you can always change the date. So don’t worry. Just set a goal! And if you don’t make that date, reset it immediately on the calendar. You will DO IT eventually just so you don’t have to keep rescheduling it!

I love nothing more than other artists who are daring to create.




(This Q&A Call is only for Alumni, but I just so badly wanted to share the highlights with all of you Creators. May it help instigate you!)


Alumni Q:  What are the things that I can do to be creative?

Heidi A: What inspires you? Do that. Simple. Don’t worry about starting small, just start. Webseries, short clips for your websites, short films, silly cell phone clips (seriously, a feature at Sundance this year was shot on a cell phone).

And this is, I think, the most important thing to do: build community around you as you are doing it. Surround yourself with other like-minded artists.  Create accountability partnerships. Start groups. You will really want a community with similar interests so that you can share resources when you are making it happen.


Q: How much budget do I need to make a webseries?

A: Last fall (in LA) the advice I heard was $500/minute – $1000/minute. That said, you can make a series on your iPhone for free. Broad City looked pretty rinky dink as a webseries – very low tech. But it was funny! They learned a lot about their characters and their story by doing it. And then they sold it and made it bigger and better. So, again, just start.

My favorite advice about creating your budget is this: “How much can you raise?” Maybe $5k is easy. Do that, make it super professional. Hire awesome people. Or, maybe you can raise $500.  Then make it for that. The whole series. THAT is the budget. Make it for what you can afford. You will figure out the rest. We call it “beg, borrow, and steal” in this biz. Beg for donations and free actors(not hard to find!), borrow equipment, steal shots on streets or locations when no one is looking. Yup. Do what you gotta do.


Q: How do I keep elevating the work I’m making and make the hard choices about hiring or not hiring those that helped me at the beginning?

A: You can’t make everyone happy. Start looking out for this project to be the best that it can be.  Raise the bar. And if you need to elevate and get a new DP or Producer or Director, then you need to do that. It’s what comes with being in charge of your own work. Making these decisions. AND I think that you can be respectful of those that have helped you along the way –  do invite the “good” ones to stay on the journey with you. Hiring a new experienced DP might just elevate the previous DP who doesn’t have any connections(or paid jobs) yet. Maybe your previous DP can assist the new one. This could be valuable for everyone to get bigger and better.

And, please note this.  It is very important to try to work with a well-oiled machine. Ideally, your team has worked together before. Ideally, everyone in the camera department has already worked together. So that means that they can move fast, efficiently, without strife. So, when starting out, try to hire folks who will lead you to “their teams”. That will be useful to all.


Q: How can I be both in charge and also a collaborator?

A: No one will care about your project as much as you do. They won’t work for free, when you will. They won’t go without food or sleep, when you will. You’re the one who will be picking up the pieces when something falls apart. So, you’re in charge.

Now, how to also collaborate?  Here’s an example. Working with an editor. Editor doesn’t like your idea, and pushes for her idea.  You push back. Editor feels dissed and not respected. You feel not listened to. Suggestion: tell the editor to show you both options. One, her way. Second, your way. Then decide together which one works better. True collaboration is about listening to the other person’s point of view, even if you go ahead with your own choice.



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