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“Quiet on the Set, Rolling, Action!”

Life Lessons Series: Six of One Dozen of the Other- "Quiet on the Set, Rolling, Action!"


I recently toured Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, California.  I had been to Universal Studios as a child.  I vividly remember taking the tram and being awestruck seeing how flash floods and Jaws came to life.  Paramount Studios was an experience where I learned – this time from a golf cart - more about reality and the business of making movies over just the special effects.  Sure some of what I saw took away a little of the cheat of Hollywood.  (A cheat is a special shot where angles are used to get interesting shots of people or objects.)   Smaller doorways that made short actors appear taller.  Other things brought reality to life.  Separate entrances for actors at odds with spouses or soon to be ex-spouses. 


When the tour ended, I walked away thinking about how life - and work - can be like a movie.  My life most days is like an adventure movie, filled with thrills and suspense.  It has an exciting plot filled with twists and turns.  The characters are unpredictable; some are unexpected sources of help and others are sudden disappointments.  I often resort to unconventional and innovative methods to obtain information I need.  Some days, my actions feel risky and I question my overall security and well-being.  At times, it does not feel like I can survive everything I am facing.  And yet in the end, I reach my objectives, most often with a happy ending.  


Anyone who has ever felt this way about life and work is not alone.  Work and life may not always be as exciting as an action-packed Hollywood adventure movie- thank goodness!  There are many similarities that exist between the two.  Sometimes looking at life and work in a different way to gain a better understanding of where we are and where we are going can be a great source of help.  It allows us to view our jobs as more than just tasks, we can view work as an adventure.  Quiet on set, rolling, action!


(Fun fact- this Oscar Award we held during the Paramount Studios Tour was much heavier than we expected!)


Behind the Scenes

A great deal of ‘behind the scenes’ work must be done before filming begins.  An exciting script must be written that will captivate the audience’s attention.  A producer needs to finance the movie.  A director must ensure that everything is done correctly to tell the story effectively.  Stagehands must set up each scene.  Wardrobes need to be selected.  Film and sound crews need to be in place.  Marketing and advertising campaigns need to promote the movie.  (I was a pretty good student during the Paramount Studio tour!)


In the movies, studios and production companies take care of these duties.  In the movie within your life, you need to be the one to handle these responsibilities.  It is up to you to produce and promote your own career.  After all, you have the most to gain (or lose) in your career.  You create excitement and direct the actions of others.  You decide what is included in your story and what should be edited out.  It is up to you to set the stage for what will happen in your career and your future.  You are the director and the one yelling action to begin.


The Action Plan

Pretend that your job is like an adventure movie, and you are the director writing your script.  Take a moment and outline the below sections.

  1. Title: the movie title is an important factor in its success and marketability.  The title sets the tone and describes the movie.  It also provides an identity for the movie.  What title describes the work you do and the kind of adventure that your audience will experience? 

  2. Current Scene: movies have scenes that show what is occurring in the characters’ lives.  What is the current scene in your movie?  What is going on in your job?  Describe it as if it were a movie.

  3. Supporting Roles: every movie has certain roles that the characters play.  You are the hero/heroine.  The other supporting roles play an important part in the story’s development.  In your movie, what supporting roles are important in your job?

  4. Villains: villains are the anti-hero, but they do not necessarily have to be people.  Villains can be other aspects of your job or outside sources and influences.  In your movie, who are the villains or what are the forces that seem to work against you?  How can you neutralize the negative influences these villains exert and have the good triumph over the bad in your job?

  5. Suspense: characters in an adventure movie always experience risk and challenges; this creates the suspense and excitement of the story.  At times, the viewers are uncertain whether the main characters will succeed.  Often it is not until the final moments of the movie that the hero finally succeeds in defeating those negative forces.  How would you describe the suspense in your job?  How might your job change dramatically at a moment’s notice?  What action can you as the main character take to help save the day and create a happen ending?

  6. Chase Scene: all good adventure movies have a chase scene.  In the chase scene, the hero is either chased by or chases the villains.  Usually something of great value is being sought.  The chase scene defies all obstacles.  You may not have an actual chase scene at your job; you do pursue things of value in more symbolic ways.  If you do not keep up the pursuit, your goal may become out of reach.  What would be your chase scene?  What are you pursuing?  Who is winning in this chase scene?  How can you change the results of your chase scene?

  7. Conclusion: the end of the movie sets the stage for what might happen to the character’s future.  Usually, because of the events in the movie the characters’ lives are changed in significant ways.  Often the characters’ relationships with others are strengthened and they grow closer to one another.  What is the conclusion of your movie?  What problem or conflict about work was resolved at the end?  How might your relationships with your coworkers be improved?  What new job beginnings might be created?

  8. Review: every movie is subjected to the scrutiny of the critics, who tell viewers in no uncertain terms what they think of the movie.  Imagine if your job and your job performance were evaluated this way.  What would the critics say?  How many stars would they give your work adventure?  What is the reason for the rating?

  9. Sequel: often successful movies have a continuation of the story for further plot and character development.  Will there be a sequel for your movie?  What is the reason for having a sequel?  How can you make the sequel better than the original?



Viewing your work like a movie is a fun way to look at your world from a different pair of glasses.  It can offer great insights, frequently those below the surface, on what is happening at work and the many factors influencing it.  How you label or title things sets the tone.  You are always the star.  The team you surround yourself with offers both support and challenges that work against you.  There will be risks.  In the end, there is an opportunity for stronger relationships and a happy ending.


Developing a thoughtful action plan provides a framework to examine and assess events in your work life.  It also provides an ability to think about positive change.  Taking this action plan and applying it to a sequel enables enable you to change or at minimum enhance your destiny.  I am a firm believer that we all have a destiny laid out for us in life.  I also believe that we can improve our future.  Don’t let life dictate your choices for you.  Instead, thoughtfully participate, make wise choices and be a strong advocate for yourself.  Follow your Action Plan.  Now that’s a wrap!


What is Your Life Lesson…

  1. What have you learned about how you view your job? 

  2. How does your work change with the addition of supporting characters? 

  3. How do chase and suspense scenes affect your work?

  4. As a result of this action plan, what steps will you take to change your job situation? 

  5. Will there be a sequel? 

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