There are several X-Factors in becoming a successful member of any team. It’s not just about the quality of your work, it’s the way that you collaborate with a team, command the attention of your crew, or inspire the confidence of those around you. You need a special cocktail of each element in precise amounts to truly make the best of yours and others time on set.
Paul C. Brunson has compiled a list of the ten qualities he identified from director Spike Lee that he believes gives him the ability to take control of a room.
One thing you’ll find about this list is that body language is key. Some parts of the list are intangibles that take a lifetime to build up, such as having a powerful preceding reputation, but you’ll find that simple gestures and shows of confidence give everyone around you the feeling that you are in control. Then it is simply up to you to take that control and leverage it towards progress on your production.
What’s very important for directors, producers or anyone who need to always be ready to make a quick decision is that it’s not just important to have the right answers. You need to be able to make that decision and have those around you feel confident that it’s the right one. These are two very separate, but intertwined elements of what it means to be a great leader.
We’ve seen many great directors, producers and writers, but one thing that links almost all of these great men and women is the ability to make a decision that is followed by their crew with confidence.
10 Things I Learned From a Legendary Director on How To Control a Room
Here are the 10 things I learned from the legendary director Spike Lee on how to control a room (and an interview).
1. Have a Powerful Preceding Reputation
This is much easier said than done, but it made an impact in the room so I have to mention it. Everyone knows who Spike Lee is and most would agree his brand conjures up thoughts of: intelligence, creativeness, and defiance against the status quo. These descriptors were already on our minds before he entered the room and so, it played a part in his perception once we saw him. Remember that your reputation always precedes you. Control your brand, before you even think about controlling the room.
2. Walk in the Room Boldly
The moment Spike entered the room, he didn’t stop walking until he landed at his interview chair. He moved with a sense of urgency. I’ve watched countless other power players do the same. Not hesitating when you break the room’s threshold gives the appearance of a true sense of purpose. When you enter a room, go to where you want to be and don’t let anything or anyone interfere with you. Spike sure didn’t.
3. Make Eye Contact With Everyone
As Spike walked to his chair, he appeared to be surveying the room. I didn’t quite understand it until I saw him sit down. He was actually making eye contact with everyone, individually. There were only about a dozen of us in the room and Spike connected with each person. Most people in the room simply got a quick glance and slight smile, and while appearing minor, these two actions were significant. One of the most important nonverbal signals people use to size you up and figure out your intent is your facial expression. A slight smile and eye contact suggests you’re approachable, but not overly eager.
See full list and read article at PCB “10 Things I Learned From a Legendary Director on How To Control a Room”
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(cover photo credit: snap from PCB)