What Clint Eastwood Taught Me About Confidence

When I first got the call to do stunts for a war movie, I had no idea I would be working on a Clint Eastwood film. The movie was called “Red Sun, Black Sand” which was later changed to “LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA”. Being new to the business, you can imagine how grateful I was to receive this job!

It was exciting enough to work with an oscar winning icon and veterans in the stunt community. But the most valuable and memorable lesson I learned from this project was what Clint Eastwood taught me about confidence.

Although I was pretty new to the industry, I had been on enough sets to get a feel of how a crew ran a production. The stereotypical demanding method actor, the screaming director and slave running production assistants were virtually non-existent on this set. There was a cool collected calmness. It was the kind of ambience that could only be created by seasoned professionals working harmoniously together under a polished display of competence.

It was a clear contrast from other sets I’ve worked on.

There was an apparent respect among the crew and no micro managing from department heads. While observing Clint Eastwood, it was clear to me that this dynamic of such an efficient crew stemmed from him. It was the perfect example of how a culture trickles down to everyone on the set, right down to craft services. It was Clint Eastwood’s confidence that was an intangible asset of the entire production.

His commanding presence rippled out to everyone working with him, setting the context of an efficient working environment. How did he get such a brilliant reputation for shooting scenes with one take, making films under budget and ahead of schedule? A culture of high stress only reflects a lack of confidence – a lack of leadership. This is not the case with Clint Eastwood. While it may be possible to perform well under high pressure, creativity and confidence is more often developed in a more nurturing environment.

You can tell a lot about a person by how they treat the “little guy”. I’m a firm believer that how you do anything is how you do everything. The kind of courtesy Clint Eastwood showed me when he shook my hand was genuine and sincere. I was a newbie, a part-time stuntman privileged to be on his set! Yet he welcomed me humbly and thanked me for my work. If he treated me like that you can bet he treats his people well.

In my experience, true confidence is often displayed through a calm assurance in tone and body language. Patient,poised… yet humble because there’s nothing to prove. In my brief interaction with him, Clint Eastwood portrayed every one of these characteristics.

You can’t really fake having confidence. This is especially true on camera. Why is it that so many people are camera shy? Perhaps you’ve come across people who act confident. It’s usually an unconscious attempt to disguise insecurities. This is often displayed by a need to fill uncomfortable silences with mindless topics or attention grabbing. This tense and agitated display of confidence is counter-intuitive. It is based on conceit and reveals a need for approval – which is where lack of confidence stems from.

The catch is, true confidence doesn’t come from external sources such as gaining the approval of others, having certain talents or achieving accomplishments. Yet that’s how many people attempt to build confidence. It’s not to say one doesn’t gain confidence through developing skills and achieving accomplishments. Of course you build confidence that way. However, the inner confidence that leaders, such as Clint Eastwood, portray comes from having a positive self-image and a healthy inner relationship. People are naturally drawn to those who have this level of self-confidence. On the flip side, we are usually uncomfortable around those who only act confident. It can sometimes be so subtle that we are only intuitively aware of it.

Working on this Clint Eastwood film was a great experience for many reasons. Imagine standing right next to 2 tubs of diesel (each with 6 sticks of dynamite) that’s about to blow up a shed you’re standing in!

All that aside, how often do you get to see such displays of world-class characteristics worth modeling yourself after? It was a significant moment of self-reflection.

I know I didn’t mention much about the actual movie, but with 4 Academy Award Nominations from Oscar Winning Director Clint Eastwood, it pretty much speaks for itself! A WWII film has never before been seen from this perspective. It’s heartfelt and inspiring. A no-brainer – this DVD belongs in your movie collection!

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