When I first got into the entertainment industry, many, many years ago, I was amazed at how serious everyone was. I thought that people in the entertainment industry would not be so serious and have fun at their jobs. Nope. Money and big egos cause so much seriousness. And sometimes the egos were so big and so fragile that you had to be careful where you walked. Some crew members have been fired for looking at the big stars the wrong way.
After about five years in the business, I was standing in for an actor in a science fiction movie. I do not remember the actor or the name of the movie.
For the uninitiated, a stand-in is someone who “stands-in” for the actor while the Director of Photography sets the lights to shoot the scene. It can take a long time to set up the lighting, so stand-ins watch the rehearsal and mimic the actors’ moves while actors go off to finish getting their makeup, wardrobe, or wait in their trailer going over their lines. The actors return to set once the scene is lit and ready to shoot.
The Director of Photography (DOP) on this science fiction movie was Mike M. What a refreshing experience meeting him! Here was someone who did not take things so seriously. He could joke and work at the same time. He had no ego and was down to earth. He could have had an ego the size of a shopping mall because he was one of the best DOPs in the business. But he did not. He remained a down-to-earth person who had fun while getting the job done.
At one point, while he was directing the lighting of a scene, he needed me in a different position. He called out to me, “Gary, my favorite sphincter muscle, come over here. I want to see something.” His favorite sphincter muscle? I was laughing so hard that it was difficult to stay standing where he wanted me to stand.
Not only the entertainment industry, but the world could use more people like Mike M. These are people who are good at their jobs and have fun while working. They get the job done and do not take it all so seriously.
As for me? If I do not accomplish anything else with my life, I will go to my grave with my life fulfilled because I am Mike M’s favorite sphincter muscle.