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Entertainment is Hard on Relationships

December 17th, 2011 by FabulousCorp

And another one bites the dust.

Today over lunch, a fellow producer told me that his long-term girlfriend called their relationship quits. Tragic really, he’s an incredible guy. No doubt women far and wide would clamour for this guy, as he’s quite a catch. That’s not the problem. The real problem, it seems, is that he’s in entertainment.

Heads up folks, this happens a lot in the industry. Of course, there are many entertainment relationships that somehow beat the odds, so it’s not a sure fire death sentence if you’re just heading into one. But there are some industry realities that make it incredibly hard to keep relationships alive and healthy.

Off the top, production schedules are gruelling, and are sometimes so tense they can bring even the greatest of gladiators to their knees.  By the time you make it home from a long day on set, you are absolutely exhausted and barely have enough energy to crawl your way into bed. Now, three things can happen here. One, you’re in a hotel somewhere your mate is not. Two, your mate is awake and wants to connect. However, in your blinding level of exhaustion, you simply can’t give them the attention they deserve and that you so desperately want to give but just can’t. Three, your mate is asleep and you only get to see the back of their head buried in the pillow before you get up and do it all again. And again the next day. And the day after that.

There also tends to be a lot of time away from home. If you’re lucky, you’ll be working on a production in your home town. However, you’re still confounded by the long hours on set, as described above. If you are away on set, it’s simply the distance and prolonged time away from each other that can chip away at intimacy, day-to-day co-existence and sharing. Different time zones make this worse, when even connecting by phone can become an issue.

Now, if you are an actor, donning the role of a new character can also be tricky in relationships. Good actors live and breathe their characters, immersing themselves in the character’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours. This is not easy to do. It takes a great deal of preparation and there’s no “off” switch that you can hit as you leave the set. Very often, the character lingers. So now, imagine that you are the mate of that actor. The person you see coming home might not be the same person you adore. They just might be someone else. I can’t imagine what couples must go through when an actor has a character like Hannibal Lecter. Yikes!

Like actors, mates of crew members have the same issues surrounding long, tense production schedules. However, their work tends to be more regional, so at least crew members make it home during production. There are also some other key benefits worth mentioning, and were pointed out to me once by a crew member’s wife. She said, “At least we don’t have to watch our husband on screen in a love scene, and we don’t get hounded by the paparazzi.” Good point.

If you are a writer, the problem isn’t just taking on a new character like an actor does, they are taking on a whole cast. Writers often refer to having characters talking in their heads or, in some cases, even arguing with each other as they battle for top of mind presence in the writer’s head. While they are working, writers don’t even live or function in the real world, they’re creating entirely new ones―sometimes from scratch. They go through this process of giving way to a new world, becoming a vessel through which new characters are born. Again, this is not something you simply turn off. It is consuming. So, imagine being the mate of that writer. Your mate isn’t even on the same planet. And if they somehow manage to come up for air, they’ll very likely appear somewhat schizophrenic.

Mates of directors have it particularly hard, as they really run a marathon. The cycle for directors is a lot longer than actors and writers with much more work before and after production. They also have to share their mate with a great many people, who are all constantly demanding a piece of the director’s time and attention. It is a director’s awesome responsibility to bring a script to life through an entire cast and crew of hundreds. To do this, directors also have to live in their heads for great lengths of time, straddling the real world and the imaginary, to somehow create something not just believable, but compelling. The pressure is also greater for both the director on the set and for their mates managing life at home, as they are often temporary single parents for extended periods of time.

Now if you are the mate of a producer –whoa! I’ll have to save that for another blog. But the stress level producers are under is enormous. Every production is like launching a brand new multi-million dollar business. Mates of producers I think have to be one of the strongest of the bunch, as it is by far the longest cycle. Only to be repeated over and over again.

I remember a couple of years back, Kevin Bacon was on stage making his acceptance speech at the SAG Awards. In his speech, he was talking about the process of “going away” for a while as he took on new role. He wasn’t only talking about the physicality of leaving for a length of time, but also his process of leaving himself to become a new character. He was looking at his wife, Kyra Sedgwick, when he thanked those who loved him for understanding and sticking by him as they knew that eventually he’d “make it back.”

There’s a reason that people in entertainment date and marry others in the industry. It’s because they get it. They understand the nature of the business, its pressures and are forgiving of the processes and absences, as they live it themselves.  Not all relationships in entertainment fail, but a great many do.

I’m not sure anyone knows what the silver bullet or secret sauce is for keeping a relationship alive in Tinseltown. I’ve experienced the struggle myself. But if you have a mate in entertainment, please give them your compassion and understanding. The craziness is not forever, just for certain periods of time. And like Kevin Bacon said, eventually they come back.

Three Canadian Actors to Watch

December 11th, 2011 by FabulousCorp

As a key part of our business, we are always scanning the industry for fabulous talent. There are three Canadian actors that I think deserve a mention and are ones to watch. Two grew up in our home province of Alberta, which makes us extra proud. The other is from Ontario.

The first one is originally from Jasper, Alberta. Her name is Erin Karpluk, and she is by and large a television actress but has also done some feature films and shorts. She’s probably best known for her lead role on the TV show “Being Erica,” currently airing on CBC, BBC and other networks around the world. What strikes me the most about her is that she reminds me of a young Renée Zellweger. She’s very skilled at immersing herself in her character and feeling the part, not just delivering lines. She’s also very aware of her acting environment, responding perfectly to cues and to the other actors. What I love most about her, and what I think is so similar to Renée Zellweger, is her ability to use facial expression to communicate a character’s internal thoughts and emotions. That’s tough, and Erin has mastered it. You can check her out here on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1172442/

I actually went to university with the other actor from Alberta, Matt Baram. Funny, funny man. This guy has impeccable comedic timing, just wind him up and let him go. He also has this look about him that is a cross between Seinfeld’s Kramer and a young version of the crazy professor from Michael J. Fox’s “Back to the Future.” Even back then, I pegged him as the next Eugene Levy and there is no doubt he’s making his mark. He’s worked with the legendary Second City in Toronto, on TV, film and on stage. Among other roles currently airing on TV and the big screen, he is also Co-Artistic Director of “The National Theatre of the World” in Toronto. You can check him out here on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0052925/

Another Canadian actor to take note of is Suzanne Coy, and she goes by the name of “Zan.” Wow, this gal has got incredible range and can take on any part she’s given from comedy to drama. She’s like a chameleon that seamlessly and effortlessly morphs into incredibly diverse characters. Zan has been everywhere–TV, film, shorts. She’s another one that really feels a part and delivers more than just lines. She’s got this incredible depth and richness to her work, and is a pleasure to see perform. She consistently delivers that magical combination of raw talent and refined skill that comes from years of experience. You can check her out here on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0185340/

You can also find these three fabulous actors on Twitter @erinkarpluk @MattBaram @ZANcoy

Definitely worth a follow.

Self-Esteem Doesn’t Come In A Bottle

October 25th, 2011 by FabulousCorp

Some people have courage while others are truly brave. One of my greatest friends of all time, Kelly Falardeau, is truly brave.  At two, she was burned on over 80% of her body. While some would mourn and drop of out life, she has used her scars and disfigurements to help and empower others. Today, she is a gifted key note speaker, coach and motivator, and is launching her second book called, “Self-esteem Doesn’t Come In A Bottle.” To read more about her and her new book go to: www.mykellyf.com

She asked me to write a letter for her book on my secrets to self-esteem.  Here is it below:

Hi Kel,

Self-esteem, huh? Good grief, why couldn’t you start with something a bit easier like world peace?!

We all experience self-doubt at some point in our lives – we’re not pretty enough, smart enough, affluent enough, as important, as connected…blah, blah, blah. At the end of the day, I believe those are just excuses we make to ourselves as to why we can’t or haven’t achieved something. I think it goes back to that whole Yoda thing, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

To me, self-esteem really comes down to what motivates you.

Big secret here, but my prime motivator is fear (how you get me to admit these things publicly is beyond me-sheesh!). Not the fear of actually doing something, but the fear of NOT doing it. I am far more afraid of regrets, or of looking back and wondering, “What if?”

I simply want to know the answer – good, bad or otherwise. If the answer is “yes,” yahoo, you’re on your way. If the answer is “no,” then rip it like a band-aid, learn from it and move on. People give far too much power to that two-letter word than is warranted. I’m not saying go in unprepared. Take some calculated risks and do your homework. And remember you’re just like everyone else, you put your pants on one leg at a time too.

Something else I learned on the road to preserving self-esteem is that speed is the key to getting past rejection. Not everyone is going to like you, not everyone is going to want to buy your product. Move on to others that do, or find something else. Quickly. The faster you do this, the more successful you will be.

BTW, I read an interesting story about Lady Gaga who says, “When I wake up in the morning I feel like any other 24-year-old insecure girl, then I say, ‘Bitch, you’re Lady Gaga, you get up and walk the walk today.’”

So, if even Lady Gaga struggles with self-esteem, then we can all put on our big-girl panties and woman up…

Be fabulous,

Janeen Norman, CEO, Fabulous Corporation

 

"A diva is someone who pretends to know who she is and looks fabulous doing it.” – Jenifer Lewis, Actor

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