Gossip. It’s the office politics, the high school cafeteria chatter — and it’s the talk you pick up spending long hours on set or in the company of high profile people. If you want to continue to work among them, you better reassess your priorities when it comes to gossip.
This may seem like really straightforward advice but there’s a number of areas where it’s easy to give yourself a bad reputation without realizing it. So here are three things to avoid doing to prevent the label of gossiper and untrustworthy person.
1. THE BLOGGER
You go to work for a production, maybe even as an assistant to a director or producer. A writer from Variety, or perhaps a prominent film blog asks you for an update. You know never to leak anything to the press without consent from your boss, except they know that too. So they ask you to confirm something or use language like it’s already known. Unless your response is “no comment,” you’ve betrayed your boss and the production.
Yes, this true even if it’s just a small tidbit of information. Why? Because you’ve shown yourself to be untrustworthy. If you’re willing to leak a little detail, what’s to say you won’t leak something larger or more juicier? When working with above the line people, it behooves you to reveal nothing as discretion is of the utmost importance. Failure to be airtight in protecting their private life or active projects from leaks will jeopardize your position.
2. THE SOCIAL BUTTERFLY
A blog. Twitter. Maybe an anonymous message board used by industry folks. People love to anecdotally reveal their experiences in the business. The problem is if someone really wanted to they could figure out who or what you’re talking about.
I’m guilty of this myself on twitter and even on this blog. I even gave a former mentor a code name — now I avoid even subtweets aimed at him less someone try and put pieces together. I still very much want to work for him, and know not to reveal his identity. I am loyal and would never leak anything.
Always be wary how you come across on social media. The smartest working for those above the line just delete theirs or avoid interacting much online. You’re someone’s right hand – you shouldn’t be too accessible. You DEFINITELY shouldn’t be revealing things unintentionally, no matter how vague you think you’re being – you’re probably not.
3. THE TESTER
I’ve actually worked with people that would feed bull shit just to see if you’d repeat it. This is especially prevalent in set or crew work. Someone would start a rumor, just to see if you’d spread it. The idea is to test and see if you’re a loquacious person. By making it seem like they’re just in the know, gossiping themselves, they give the impression they’re in on it too. The reality is they’re testing you and this is their means of doing so.
The best way to avoid failing this test is to just not repeat things told to you. Even if you saw something firsthand, just don’t say anything. Don’t spread rumors yourself. Don’t trust the person telling you stories – chances are they’re feeling you out. Can you blame them? In a business that operates on maximum discretion trust is essential.
So those are my three main ways that you may unintentionally be labeled a gossipy person. Be aware of it, strive for self awareness and adopt a lower profile if need be. Keeping a highly active twitter or talking to the press is not worth sacrificing your career over. Being an assistant or even a writer on a studio payroll requires maximum discretion and selectivity in online presence. In fact deleting this blog and wiping my twitter is the best indication that I have moved on to bigger things or am working with VIPs 😉