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Heart Connecting with Joey Soloway

Joey Soloway is a showrunner, director, writer and creator of Transparent.


ZAK: I love the idea of team-building. But usually in action, team-building activities make me cringe. Maybe you're at a work thing, or a meeting, and you're told to do some ice breaker, or an activity meant to bring the room together. It can be so awkward when there's no buy-in from the participants or feels forced or trite. I think we've all been there. But team-building done right, it can an be incredibly uniting and energizing. That's what today's episode is about. I'm a huge fan of the TV show, Transparent. If you haven't seen it. It's on Amazon. It was created by Joey Soloway.

JOEY: I remember as I was an up-and-coming filmmaker, somebody told me a story about Quentin Tarantino. When he first arrived on the first-day of Reservoir Dogs...I think it was a grip who was there and he said he came outside. They were building a stage there and he came outside and the camera truck had pulled up. They opened the back-doors and they pull out the tailgate and he jumped up on the tailgate and he ran inside and he's like give it to me! Give it to me! Give it to me! And somebody was like, here...And he took the camera on got out on the tailgate and he took the camera like Simba. He was so excited to take the camera and go fill it with images. So that made me never really want to do that but it did make me want to give a speech from a tailgate. And the first day of the second season (of Transparent) was the day that Marriage Equality passed and so then we were just like, the camera truck happened to be there. So I got up there and said something about Marriage Equality and then we just kind of took turns. Different people wanted to get up and say something. And then it became a tradition where every morning we stopped using a tailgate and started using a big apple box and putting it in the center of wherever we were. So all the actors were get ready. They would all have gone through hair and makeup and be ready to shoot. And before we would go to the set, we would all just start, box, box, box, box. And people would start to gather and clap and say box and the whole every single person would come and stand in the circle around the apple box and people would take turns talking about whatever they were going through. Sometimes it was good stuff like, my kid got a scholarship or sometimes it was like bad stuff like my wife has cancer and it would connect everybody so much. Even if we were wasting time that morning by box going so much longer than anybody planned for or budgeted for or scheduled for, it always made the day go faster cause we all were so heart-connected. And normally the pieces of a machine on a movie, somebody's like, that's not my fault. That's the AD's fault. That's the grip's fault. People were always throwing each other under the bus and then once we started doing box you're not throwing anybody under the bus anymore cause you know there wife has cancer.

ZAK: Yes. So much is happening with box. You're decentralizing the leadership. You're connecting. This is something where you don't have to be making TV shows to practice box. I can do it with my family tomorrow morning. I can do it at work.

JOEY: Totally. And then like prioritizing wasting time which is amazing. And that would be my favorite time where people couldn't really stand it anymore because we were wasting too much time. I truly believe it actually makes a better product. So, when other people were like, we're running out of time, you can be thinking that this time, that nobody thinks we deserve that is past the amount of time that we've all decided was the right amount of time to spend on love is now the most important time. Just to tolerate the emotion of feeling present to one another and the gratitude that we're making art.

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