So at lunch last Sunday, celebrating the birthday of my amazing composer friend, Mark Governor (he scored Pet Cemetery II … and a bunch of other stuff), I had an epiphany. I sat across the table from one of Mark’s good friends, Richard Ford, who was the Executive Music Producer for Alexander Payne’s recent film, The Descendents, which stars one of my very favorite actors, George Clooney.

Richard is a terrific and personable guy, and as we were chatting about how interesting it was for him to work with Hawaiian musicians and their authentic native music in the film as well as his huge kudos for the director, Alexander Payne, another friend mentioned he had just heard an interview with Payne on PBS describing him in quite the same manner; a very likeable guy. Word on the street and around our table says Mr. Payne has a real knack for making everyone feel comfortable, from the crews all the way up to the super stars he works with.

Well thanks to my long time friend Kevin Tent, who happened to be one of his editors, I had the good fortune of working directly with Alexander Payne as a voice actor for small parts in the films: Citizen Ruth starring Laura Dern, in 1996 and About Schmidt, starring Jack Nicholson in 2002. My experiences with Mr. Payne were precisely as described around our luncheon table. I found myself thinking back to how nervous I was the first time I met him. I was a “nobody” voice talent walking onto the post-production set of a major film. As if that wasn’t scary enough, the DIRECTOR (Payne) came in to personally direct me. OMG! I thought for sure he would hear my heart beating – it was thumping so wildly. But sure enough, within a few moments it was obvious that via his kind words along with his tone of voice and easygoing style that (as I look back) he had “skinnied” me! I was a nervous wreck and his kindness enabled me to be calm, do a great job and get asked back on another film years later.

So it was at that moment—the moment of my epiphany—during the birthday lunch at Lula Cocina Mexicana in Santa Monica, California that it occurred to me. Alexander Payne is an honorary, natural Skinnier!

So the moral or rather the point to this story is, take a moment to think about past situations you’ve been in where you were particularly nervous, uncomfortable or perhaps downright pissed off about something and someone with a kind word or gesture, transformed your state of mind for the better. Bask in how good that felt and then go make someone else’s day and find somebody to Skinny!

BTW if you are interested on Kevin’s take on how to make it in Hollywood, editor-style, here’s a great clip of him on YouTube.

More on Mark Governor.     Even more.

More on Richard Ford.