I’ll never forget asking an app developer friend of mine whose offering was more successful than he had ever dreamed it would be, what it is he’d do differently, next time, since his lack of prep in one particular area got him some one-star reviews. It wasn’t that he hadn’t thought of everything — it’s that he hadn’t imagined the volume of requests for registering user accounts would end up shutting down his mail server, resulting in delays. “Your app is revolutionary,” I said. “What would you do differently, now that you know that?”
His response: “I’d prepare to be revolutionary.”
I use his words as a mantra whenever I launch a new course, start a new project, or put out a new breakdown. We can’t know for sure, going in, what the reaction to anything we create might be. But we can have plans in place for “what if it bombs,” “what if it’s this successful by this date,” and “what if it’s beyond our wildest dreams” so that there’s not some crazy scramble for handling the what ifs.
You’re going to hold an industry night for your hit play. You’re hoping to have a few dozen agents, managers, and casting directors in attendance. You need to assume three different scenarios, at minimum: No one shows, exactly the right number of suits show up, and it’s standing room only with a line down the sidewalk. The budget for printing programs, buying food and drink for the reception, hiring the valet parking service, and every other production detail needs to be plotted out at each of those three levels, as well as everything else in between.
You’re running a Kickstarter campaign for your short film. You’re hoping to raise $5000 and you’ve created some cool perks for backers to claim. Three different scenarios: No one donates, you reach your goal by the deadline, and you so far surpass your goal before the deadline that your production scope is now completely changed. There should be a gameplan for each of these BEFORE you launch your campaign. Additional perks, how to communicate with only two backers (thanks, mom and dad) about “failing,” whether you’ll shoot your film on a lower or higher budget to match up with how the campaign goes.
You’re going in on a producer session for a small co-star on a hit network series. Three possibilities: You don’t book it even after making it this far, you book it and it’s an awesome day, or you book it, they turn it into a recurring guest star, and not only can you leave your survival job, but you can also finally buy a house. Having all three of these what ifs mapped out can make it much easier to handle the pressure of suddenly having a publicist and attending events put on by the network and being on TMZ‘s radar.
One of the things that’s keenly important, with this “scenarios” exercise is realizing that you can choose to be happy with any outcome. I was watching The Voice a couple of weeks ago and an auditioning vocalist had left his survival job to try and make it as a singer, doing small club gigs and uploading and sharing his own music directly with a small mailing list of fans. He talked about the adjustment of having a secure job and steady income and then having no clue whether he’d be able to make rent. He said, “I’ve never been so happy to be so poor.”
As y’all know, I’ve been running a crowdfunding campaign for the 4th edition of Self-Management for Actors. I was excited that it would also prove to be a great source of DATA. Do actors still value a physical book or is everyone cool, rocking it eBook style these days? I mean, it’s been five years since the 3rd edition first came out. Publishing has CHANGED. So, even if we’d only successfully raised a few thousand bucks, I was going to see each $15 donation as a vote for eBook, each $25 donation as a vote for the physical book. I would’ve been bummed to not reach goal, but I would’ve used the data just the same. At the other end of the spectrum, we had a set of stretch goals for various over-goal levels, as well as a list of schools to whom we’ll donate books, as we raised enough to do a larger print run.
The point in sharing this (aside from saying THANK YOU for the crazy awesome support) is to say that it’s a choice to map in happiness, contentment, feelings of victory for each of the scenarios. You don’t book that co-star? But you book the room. Happy. Your industry night is low-attended? But you all put on a great show and the buzz is still great, which you know how to use. Happy. You’re preparing to be revolutionary, you’re preparing how to handle disappointment, and you’re mapping in space for being happy at every tier.
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001730.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.