Monday, July 10, 2006

A Few Words With An Oscar Winner

I had just gotten done lifting weights this evening and was chatting with a friend, when I noticed her eyes repeatedly drifting off in our conversation. I turned around and didn't see anything out of the ordinary- some guys shooting some hoops. She pointed at a short, black guy in a white New York Yankees cap.

"Isn't that Jamie Foxx?"

I turned around to look and I saw a guy, about 5'10" reasonably strong. His hat was low, but I looked hard enough to see it was indeed Jamie Foxx. One thing you'll notice is that most movie stars do not look "it" in person. Cameras can do wonders.

I thought "Cool" and turned back to my conversation. I'm not a person who is overwhelmed with a desire to get autographs/impress/annoy celebrities. He looked like he was having fun shooting around with a former coach of the Phoenix Suns and some other buddies. No need to bother him.

I said good bye to my friend and headed upstairs to ride the bike for a bit (I'm trying to whip my butt into shape, seeing as how I have to have my shirt off a lot for this Lifeguarding gig I landed) A half hour later Mr. Foxx was still shooting around, playing pickup and having a good time. He wasn't overwhelmingly talented or maybe he just wasn't trying- who knows. Nonetheless, I wrapped up my workout and started thinking- should I ask him something? Would I regret it if I didn't? I'm a film student- what should a film student ask? How much time would he give me? Would he ignore me?

I walked past where he was playing and stopped to watch for a second. The coach was putting him through a drill. He finished and walked towards a chair a few yards away from me. His rather large bodyguard sat next to him. He looked bored, so I figured "What the hell?" and walked up to him.

Greg: Mr. Foxx, can I ask you a quick question?
JF: Yeah man, sure.
Greg: I'm a film student and was curious- what's the difference between a good director and a bad director?
JF: A good director and a bad director?
Greg: Yeah.
JF: Nothing, man no difference.
Greg: Really?
JF: It's just different ways to tell a story. Every director has a different way to tell a story. Sometimes you get the right people, sometimes you don't. Sometimes you get critical acclaim, sometimes you don't. You just got to get out there and tell YOUR story. The world is there for the taking man. Just tell your story.

And with that I thanked him and headed out.

On the drive home I thought about what he had told me. I think objectively, there are BAD directors. I've worked with people who I think legitimately are untalented directors. Some are nice, some are not, but they lack the talent to lead, to share their vision. Was he being coy with me? Doubtful. I think after a certain time in the business, you just come to accept that people with talent sometimes aren't going to get work. Sometimes idiots get lots of money to make stupid movies. But through it all, it is THEIR movie. It is THEIR story.

And telling stories is really what Hollywood is all about. From an Oscar winner to a film student.


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