Frank Sinatra said he lived his life “My Way,” but a filmmaker and screenwriter I met in Providence, Rhode Island has a more democratic approach to life.
I visited Eileen Boarman while she was directing a Public Service Announcement, or PSA, for Rhode Island Department of Transportation. She allowed me to film a bit of her film shoot, and then interview her. You can see my resulting video from this stop on my cross-country U.S. road trip below.
Much of our conversation didn’t make that video, in particular this theme of collaboration and mutual respect. It surfaced first in her discussion of the PSA. The script was written collaboratively, she told me. One person made the candy used in the shoot, another provided lighting, yet another sound equipment.
She had the same experience when serving as a producer’s assistant during the shooting of the Showtime series “Brotherhood” in Providence. Roles were more defined, but the set was always a team of respected collaborators.
“I’m finding in this business,” she told me, “that when people work together and really respect each other’s roles and aren’t afraid of where an idea might come from, it’s such a better experience.”
Making sure not to fear others’ wisdom been a driver in Eileen’s career. She began her life the arts as a young actress, but when she wasn’t acting she would help with props or the light board. By the time she was a theater director she knew the importance of every person on the team.
“No matter how small the role,” she told me, “every single person that participates has an equally important role in the final product.”
In the last decade she’s shifted to film. During film school she focused on screenplays — she’s drawn to writing — but has sought out knowledge on all aspects of film production, allowing her to, say, direct a PSA.
Her drive for cooperation really became clear, however, when she discussed her screenplay set in Northern Ireland, a work she began in film school.
Eileen conducted research by traveling traveled across Northern Ireland, meeting and staying with Catholics and Protestants. She believes most there “want resolution” and desire to “just accept each other’s differences and live together as part of one country.” But that fear among many that their rights will be taken away can keep the fires of discord burning.
“I don’t know why it always has to be ‘my way,'” she says. “We have that problem in this country too.”
For Eileen, ‘my way’ and ‘your way’ can be ‘our way.’ That’s a good approach in politics, art or life.
What role does collaboration and mutual respect play in your creative life?