From 2007 to 2011 I was privileged to be able to co-direct the Biola Media Conference on the CBS Studio lot in Hollywood. The BMC grew to be considered the largest conference for Christians working in secular media in the country during those years. I also began to do a series of “inner views” with media and entertainment professionals. Here’s an except from one of those interviews….
Arthur Anderson (bio): began his film career opening a commercial production company and in 1977, but soon began working on feature films in New York moving to Los Angeles in 1980 where he began working on numerous television shows and feature films as an assistant director. In 1996, he joined John Woo as his 1st Assistant Director on Face-Off and subsequently on Mission Impossible II. Since 2000, Arthur has also been co-producer and action writer on Windtalkers, Paycheck, and BMW Films’ – The Hostage. Arthur was a 2nd Unit Director and on Woo’s Fox TV Pilot, Lost in Space. He co-produced Mission Impossible III for Paramount Pictures as well as directing the East Coast 2nd unit on the film. He executive produced and directed a webisode series entitled Being Bailey gotvstudios.com/programming/beingbailey and continues to assistant direct numerous TV series including In Plain Sight, Numb3rs, Without a Trace, Normads, and Pretty Little Liars.
Here is a short except on how Arthur got into media and entertainment, some industry advise, and personal insights on how to move up in the business.
“My senior year in high school my family had a farm 40 miles outside of town called Ritter, South Carolina: population 40 on a good day. I mean, it had the old “Green Acres” general store. It was that kind of place. I remember my senior year I was trying to figure out what I was going to major in at college. I really didn’t know. I knew I wanted to participate in entertainment, but I wondered how it would help me make a living.
I was always interested in entertainment. I started doing standup comedy when I was in college at the local amphitheater. Out of that, I started to run with a guy who did radio. We started to do comedy commercials for nightclubs down in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in the summer, which evolved into a business. Then we started doing other commercials–radio commercials for concrete parks, condos, chicken chains, all kind of stuff. This was my sophomore year of college and all the sudden we had this thriving business.
Then the clients asked, “Hey, can you do TV stuff?” “Oh, of course we can.” [But,] we’d never been in a TV studio. But, we learned. We didn’t know any better, so we learned the hard way. We learned our filmmaking for commercial stuff by hands-on practical experience. We did everything: we did our own sound effects, rented our own equipment, and even made our own equipment when none existed. We learned things the hard way.
If God wants you in the business and you don’t have the money to get out there, He’ll figure a way to bring it to you.
The secret is that when you get in, to make yourself invaluable. When you see a problem, you try to solve it. And then people rely on you. I got the reputation on shows that would start off and be out of control to come, take over and fix them as an A.D. It was good but it was also hard.
I was fortunate that I worked with a lot of good directors. One director I’ve been with for 12 –years is John Woo. I hooked up with him in 1996 on Face Off. I really enjoyed working with John. He’s a great human being, and a man with great vision. I learned more from him on telling a story with the camera than anybody else I’ve ever worked with.
I then did Mission Impossible 2 [also a John Woo film], and on MI2 my duties changed. I was focused as a director, but also became the action writer because we would take the script and throw out all the action and then we’d redesign everything. For the car chase, John, the stunt coordinator, and I would sit down with toy cars on a desk, and John would say, “Okay – I want to do things that have never been seen before.” What are we going to do to make this really interesting?”
The thing about John is the action of the film is another character. What we would always try to do is spin the actors against the plot through the action. We would sit down and say, “What would the character do in this?” It was always action sequences that mean something to the character in the film, that tested his faith, helped him in his transformation, or exposed a dimension of the character that he didn’t even realize he had with him. Every action sequence was designed to fill one of those elements.
For me, whatever makes you successful is what you’re passionate about. I always have to approach it from the Christian perspective. If you’re going to be in this business as a Christian, your first and foremost item on the menu is to be vertically integrated with God. And everything flows from that. I mean, that’s how I got off the tractor in South Carolina to out here.”