On Focus

Jul 27, 2012 by     11 Comments    Posted under: Attitude, Thousands of Stories, Three Actors

I really like writing blog posts. In fact, I LOVE writing them, and I get lots of benefits when I do. So why haven’t I been consistent about it recently? One word: focus.

One of the first things I noticed when I moved to Los Angeles is that there is a tremendous amount of opportunity. Someone is always making a movie, a web series, a student film. You can get into voiceover, loop groups, hosting, or commercials. There are more theatres per capita than any city in the US (the world?), you can be in single-camera comedies, multi-cam, or hour-long procedural dramas. There are opportunities to produce your own work, direct, write, or play your ukelele on Venice boardwalk. And in all of this, it’s very easy to lose focus.

Strategic Lack of Focus

I’m now moving past three years of being in Los Angeles, and I have made it a point to try just about everything. I’ve dabbled in producing, writing, hosting, improv, voiceover, and the list goes on. The benefit of this, is that I have a remarkable sense of what I most enjoy, and a very well-rounded understanding of the entire entertainment industry. I employed this same strategy in high school and in college to very good results. The key, though, is that once you’ve tried a lot of things, you need to begin jettisoning those activities that you are less passionate about, that distract you from your ultimate goal.

The Seduction of Busyness

I like being busy. I like working on a lot of things, having my hands in multiple projects at any given time. This can serve me very well at times, as I am exposed to a very high number of opportunities. The trap, however, is that I can get sucked in to just being busy. In the past couple months I’ve taken an extremely critical look (thanks Ryan) at what I’m spending my time on, and whether or not it’s directly feeding my ultimate goals. In the end, I realized that a lot of my energy was being spent on things adjacent to my vision. Whether that was producing, working on voiceover, or anything that is not directly related to putting me in front of the camera creating excellent content. The trap is that these things are certainly more productive than sitting on my couch eating funyuns (ew), but it is not the most effective use of my time. The other trap is that as a lot of opportunities come my way, it gets very easy to respond to them, rather than initiate the activities that will most drive my career (and my soul) forward.

Eye on the Prize

So how do you know what activities to initiate? Well, first you must be extremely specific about what you actually want. If you are unclear about where you are ultimately heading, you will get vague results. One of the ways that I have gained clarity about what my ultimate goals really are, has been by trying a lot of things. Now that I have completed that phase, though, I can move forward towards my vision. Moreover, with a very clear sense of where I want to go, it becomes very easy to make a decision. Even if an opportunity seems amazing, if it doesn’t match up with your vision you can say no, with the knowledge that it will only keep you from achieving what you actually want.

Final Thoughts

The great thing about living in a big city is the complete abundance of opportunity. I would urge you, though, to not get seduced by just any opportunity that comes your way. Just because someone else wants you to work on something, doesn’t mean it’s a good decision. In my life, I realized that any hour I was spending recording a VO audition when I hadn’t written a blog post that week was me being seduced by random opportunities. I love writing for PvsPB, and I’m excited to bring some really great content in the very near future. I look forward to sharing with you some stellar interviews coming down the pipeline, and lots of exciting developments in my life as an actor.

Ben Whitehair is the Los Angeles contingent of this blog. Find out more information and view his materials on his website, or read the rest of his blog posts.