This month I’ve been traveling with Steve Taylor who directed Blue Like Jazz. Steve is the engine behind the movie and has been from the beginning. I’d even say Steve was the principle writer.
On set, Steve displayed the best example of leadership I’d seen to date. He was strong on task, but open to everybody’s ideas. Even while filming ten to twelve hour days, he took time at night to write thank-you cards to crew. I learned that from one of the ladies in the make-up truck.
I learned a lot about leadership from Steve. I learned you can’t railroad your way but you can lead with a vision, hard work and a lot of kindness. Steve also taught me something about life while we were filming the movie. He taught me that we all need a director, somebody to call the shots and to remind us about the overall arch of our story.
Movies aren’t shot in the order of scenes in the screenplay. You may be shooting the first scene of the screenplay followed by the last, all in a day. This means actors had to know the script inside and out to understand where their character was in the development of the story.
Actors have to know their parts, but Steve had to know everybody’s part. To this day, Steve has the entire script memorized.
Often, while filming, Steve would pull an actor aside and remind them of what had just happened in the story, whether it was to influence a wardrobe change or to help the character understand how sad they were supposed to be.
In life, we need somebody to help us understand the big picture of not only our story, but the story of all of humanity. For me, that somebody is God. I was asked recently who my higher power was and I told the person my higher power was Jesus. And in a way, Jesus acts in my life the way Steve acted on set. Jesus reminds me the story isn’t about me, and other characters matter, and He reminds life is short and matters of the heart trump all. He helps me understand what my motivation should be and about what’s gone on in my past.
I am convinced life-stories void of a director are disasters waiting to happen. There is no way we can get all of life crammed into our little heads. We need somebody who has the whole script memorized, not just our parts, but the whole of the epic narrative.
Who is your higher power, and how does your relationship with that power influence your daily life?