Stephen Tobolowsky
Stephen Tobolowsky prepares for a scene in Robert Brinkmann’s Stephen Tobolowsky’s Birthday Party.

Work with people you like.

Working with other creative people in a good environment will inspire you and allow you to do better work. It is much more rewarding to work with people you like on a small project and have fun than to work on a bigger film without enjoyment.

Work on projects you like.

We all have to pay the rent and put food on the table, but your heart needs to be fed, too. Taking a job for the money can be more painful than making a little less and working on something you care about.

Support your friends.

We all need help at one time or another. Make sure you support and help out the people you work with; you will need to withdraw from the favor bank sometime. It is one of the greatest aspects of this business, that so many people understand this.

It’s all about truth.

Whether writing a scene, lighting a scene, directing a scene or editing a scene, it’s all about communicating truth. I think the greatest filmmakers take themselves out of the equation and find the inherent truth in the material.

It’s all about talent.

Hitchcock’s famous quote about actors being cattle is completely misguided, if it was serious at all. Just look at who he cast. He didn’t work with Jimmy Stewart or Grace Kelly because of their bovine qualities… An actor who communicates truth always works, no matter what else is going on in the film. Respect your talent, because they will save you.