August 31, 2012

Dave Foley on Acting and Working in the Entertainment Business: 'Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously'

There aren't too many acting posts on this site, but more often than not acting advice can be helpful for directors as well. In this case, Dave Foley, of Kids in the Hall fame, talks about how he stays sane between jobs and how being able to work at all in the industry is a complete fluke. Even if you're not an actor, if filmmaking is (or becomes) your day job, you will most certainly go through periods of inactivity, so his advice can definitely apply to more than just actors. Check out the interview with Film Courage below.

For any aspiring or accomplished actors out there, it's important to know that most working professionals go through dry spells where they aren't working. I know certain actors that have to constantly stay creative, regardless of what they're doing, so that they can keep themselves occupied. For some of them it's the life experience that makes their work better, so getting too many jobs without a break can actually be a bad thing in the long run.

His point about not taking yourself too seriously and enjoying what comes along could certainly apply to all creatives. It's very easy if you are driven and focused to get consumed with your work, but taking time to enjoy what you're doing can be healthy and actually make the end result more fulfilling. I know for me personally I have to find things that I enjoy about the work I'm doing even if I take a job just to pay the bills. I am a perfectionist, so the best way I've learned to not take things too seriously is just to move on and not worry about projects that have been completed. When they're done, they're done, and I know that I can't ever be satisfied with future projects if I'm constantly worried about what went wrong on previous projects.

For any actors out there, how do you stay creative and engaged when you're not working? For filmmakers (or actors), what do you do if you're not enjoying the work you're doing?

Link: ‘If You Work At All In This Business It's a Huge Fluke’ by Dave Foley -- Film Courage

Your Comment


I find the idea that the ice caps will have melted before the economy recovers puts things in perspective.

September 1, 2012 at 2:08AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Indeed, work is the best cure for not working, so if you don't get work from others: do your own! I hope if your in this business, you know good storytelling. Uta Hagen wrote "An Actor Has Something to Say": so should you. My acting friends are always in the studio, working on fundamentals and improvising scenes and characters. Some write, some don't, but they develop constantly so when the work comes, they set themselves apart from the rest. Down time is growth time, in production all your energy goes into the project. Somehow you still pay the rent in between, but satisfaction is yours to give: to yourself.
If you don't enjoy what you're doing, why are you there? Elaine May says " An actors job is to justify.", as advice to them when they don't like a script. "If you don't like the line, you haven't solved it.", this can apply to many jobs. If standards are the worst you've seen on a set, your challenge is to maintain yours. That's what being a professional means, taking satisfaction that you more than pulled your weight, regardless of the conditions.
Also helps to have an unquenchable fire, and love everything about this business, warts and all. And of course, Luck; but you can seduce her too with enough love...

September 1, 2012 at 5:45AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

You voted '-1'.
Michael Locke


Thank you for posting. The red carpet at HollyShorts was so jammed packed at this point that Dave Foley was willing to jump over the red rope and settle in on this spot to chat with us for a couple of minutes. He then hopped back over the rope to continue talking to folks. In our lives, we are still trying to find the right balance. All these years and we do our best to always have something we are working on.

September 2, 2012 at 9:06PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I thought it was a great little piece, and I'm glad you got him to give you a little more straightforward of an answer. I think celebrities are so used to just making jokes or giving anecdotes and you guys were really looking for a practical answer - very much appreciated.

September 3, 2012 at 3:48AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Joe Marine
Camera Department

Thanks Joe. Guess that is just our nature. We always try to dig beneath the surface. We are not fans of Hollywood fluff pieces. We are filmmakers ourselves and so we always go into it from the angle that we want to get something useful out of it. Red carpets can be a tough place to try and do that because you only have 2 minutes and everything happens so quickly. Love Dave Foley though, he makes us laugh.

September 3, 2012 at 10:29PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I work full-time for the government so I can't fall into this cateogry of actors or filmmakers. I do what I can preferring the weekends for the latter. But until it pays equal to my fulltime job, I can't quit it...

September 11, 2012 at 11:56AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM