On a recent podcast, Kevin Bacon told a story about what it was like to act in a movie directed by Clint Eastwood. (It’s starts around the 1:49 mark)
On most movie sets, he described a pre-shoot experience marked by commotion, noise and stress.
People chaotically running around, barking “quiet on the set” and “rolling” and then slamming down the slate board that marks the scene as loud as humanly possible before the director screams “action.”
In comparison, Eastwood’s sets are a model of efficiency. No one runs around or yells. There is no chatter on open mikes. There is no need to bark “quiet on the set” for it is already quiet. The slate board slowly goes does down and Eastwood softly says, “Go ahead.”
Apparently Eastwood was influenced by his experience on the television western, Rawhide. There he noticed how the pre-shoot chaos and loud noises severely rattled the horses and thought if this is bad for them, it must also be bad for the actors and everyone on the set.
In listening to this story, I thought about how often we create unnecessary storms before an experience designed to be calm.
How we stress out before vacation, get rattled trying to get the kids in the car before a day out. In business it’s the preparation before an important presentation. In politics it’s the high volume expectations before elections and hearings.
On one level it is understandable that high stakes and expectations lead to higher cortisol levels and stress. On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine a worse way to prepare for anything good in life.