Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tom McCarthy, Multi-Hyphenate Extraordinaire

I absolutely loved Tom McCarthy's writing and directing debut The Station Agent, an indie film gem that caught me completely off guard and introduced me to the sexy, sensitive side of Peter Dinklage. (No, I’m not kidding – watch the movie.)

When I realized he was also an actor – known to me then as one of the teachers on Boston Public – my respect for him went up even further. Here was a guy who was booking series regular roles while making films that won awards at Sundance. Impressive.

So naturally I jumped at the chance to see Tom speak at a recent Writer’s Guild Foundation event, during which he discussed the evolution of his career as well as writing/directing his other award-nominated features The Visitor and Win Win. The evening was amazing! He exceeded my expectations ten fold, entertaining and educating with intelligence, class, and thoughtfulness.

When asked about juggling his multi-hyphenate status – actor/writer/director/producer – he deftly expressed how he didn’t see each title as a separate hat, but rather as parts of the overall creative process. While studying at Yale Drama, he was always involved in creating performance, whether it be rehearsing a play or writing sketch comedy or working backstage. He didn’t juggle his hats – he wore them all at the same time.

He encouraged us to do the same. "If you want to own a restaurant, you should try being a waiter for a while," he recommended. "If you’re a writer, try taking an acting class." Good thing I’m ahead of the curve there.

I loved what he said, especially given my recent observations about Sundance. It tells me I’m on the right track. I’m not writing and producing in addition to my acting to get ahead or exert more influence, I’m doing it because I’m expanding creatively. And learning more allows me to be more creative.

But you don’t have to take my word for it – check out the live recording of the entire evening with Tom McCarthy for just a $9.99 donation to the Writer’s Guild Foundation. Well worth it.

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