Monday, 6 October 2014

With "Yes, And" You Can Handle Anything

As a Production Coordinator, it’s my job to arrange video shoots and ensure they go smoothly so that our talented post-production team can turn the footage into amazing videos for our clients. This involves script writing, client management, coordinating with the crew, casting actors, directing, ensuring equipment/props/hard drives/water bottles/extra copies of the script are all where they need to be, and more. Every shoot is an elaborate ballet that only happens once (on most budgets), so it’s imperative that every step goes exactly as choreographed.

But it never does. Of course it doesn’t. When does that ever happen in life?

More accurately, my job as Production Coordinator is to make very elaborate plans, have a thousand back-up plans in my back pocket just in case, and then find solutions very quickly when the inevitable, yet completely unpredictable, problems arise – all with a smile on my face.

It can be exhausting.

Thankfully, I’m a practitioner and proselytizer of long-form improv comedy. That means that in my free time I can often be found playing make-believe with other grown adults for fun. (Every Thursday, Friday andSaturday at 8:30 at Station Theater! Only $6! BYOB!) Not only does this provide me with an excellent stress release and creative outlet, but it also gives me the opportunity to exercise the principle of “Yes, And”.

Yes, And is one of the basic tenets of improv. (Yes, improv has rules. No, we don’t plan what we’re going to say ahead of time.) Yes, And basically means that you are not allowed to deny the reality put forth in your scene; no matter what, it must be accepted (yes), and then you must build upon that reality (and).

In other words, if Harry walks onstage and says, “Grandma, I’m so glad we decided to live on this moon colony.” Your response can’t be, “This is New Jersey and you’re my wife!” But it could be, “Yes, sonny, I knew getting you out in the fresh moon air would improve your studies.”

It is only through Yes, And that improvisers can work together to successfully build and grow a scene. 

It’s also the only way I can get through a stressful day on set.

Forgot to pack the lenses for the camera and it’s almost time to shoot? We could stand around and determine who the best person to blame is, or I could say, “Yes, the lenses aren’t here, and I’m getting in my car to go get them” without wasting any time.

Actor didn’t show up? The gaffer’s about the same height AND he looks great on camera!

Client decided to do a complete rewrite on set? Why not! While we’re finalizing those changes, let’s go ahead and grab some b roll…

Production never grinds to a halt; everything keeps rolling along.

You can fight the mistakes, the ridiculous requests, the unforeseeable obstacles, and the uncooperative weather, or you can accept the reality before you and work with what you’ve got. Save yourself the stress of trying to change that which you have no control over and focus on doing the best you can possibly do. It’s the only way you can actually do the best you can possibly do.

Not just a good lesson at work, but a great lesson for life. 

In my not-so-humble opinion, us silly people who like to play make believe are really on to something there…

How could the method of Yes, And help in your role? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments below!

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