Sunday, June 03, 2012


One of the worst things that you will ever have to do is tell another person that they no longer have a job.

There is no way to put a positive spin on this sort of news.

Sometimes it's their fault, but most often not.

But it never matters. Looking into the face of another person and telling them they have lost their livelihood, their security, never goes well. The why doesn't matter at that point.

I have had to do it when I was producing a film, due to the incompetence of the person involved. She wasn't shocked when it dawned on her what I was saying, but there was a moment when she said, "Are you firing me?"

And then, no matter how detached you are from your feelings, you have to look them in the eyes and say "yes".

I have had to look a grown man in the face, a family man, and tell him he no longer has a job to provide for them. When his eyes watered slightly, and his lip trembled a little, I begged the universe to stop him from crying. I knew I would follow if he did.

You try and be the good guy. If it were up to you it would be different. You try and show that you are still "nice". It's a hard sell.

In film and media, within companies and on creative projects, there is sometimes a bravado that comes from wielding this sort of power. I've seen it first hand on several film projects. "I'll just kick him off the project," the courageous man or woman says.

But eventually, when the reality of having to have the conversation sets in, the bravery tends to diminish a little. 

Because, deep down, we are all just people. Imperfect. Trying our best. Trying to make it work.

The best people I know, the ones I would work with in a heartbeat, will preserve a person's dignity while having to give this news. It is their ability to empathise with the person losing their job that also makes them great filmmakers. Empathy. Respect. 

You should never be too quick to exercise absolute power over others' livelihoods.

Having to fire people is necessary sometimes, I know. 

But you should always hate it.

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