If you’ve ever taken one of my classes, you’ve probably heard me champion the Three Day Rule. While these days it’s almost exclusively associated with dating, a cooling off period is a good idea anytime strong emotions are involved.
So what’s my version of the Three Day Rule?
Whenever you feel the urge to express yourself spontaneously in the heat of the moment, whether it’s to say to “I hate you” or “you’re a f##king idiot” or even “I love you”
DON’T ACTUALLY SAY (OR TWEET OR POST OR SEND) THESE THINGS.
Instead, take a deep breath, write down everything you want to say, and store that passion-infused piece of paper in a desk drawer for 72 hours. If, after that time, you read those words and still feel compelled to utter them, then go right ahead. But most of the time you’ll probably choose a more diplomatic form of expression.
The Three Day Rule dates at least as far back as Abraham Lincoln, who was known to write and rewrite (and rewrite) letters before ever mailing them. Of course, exercising restraint was a bit easier back then, when second thoughts could often be acted upon by a midnight trip to the mailbox. Today, it only takes a split-second for a venom-infused thought to go from your mind to the global socialsphere via your smartphone.
Passions run high in many businesses, but filmmaking seems to create more than its fair share of stressful situations involving volatile personalities. Lots of pitches would never be sold, movies never made, and shows never picked up without intense feelings driving them. But with that drive comes –ahem– disagreements, and some people handle those better than others. Everyone has a temper; not everyone knows how to control it.
It’s not healthy to hold it in, but be careful where you let it out!
You always want to avoid saying something you’ll regret, but these days poorly chosen words can stick with you for a loooong time, especially if you choose to express them via text, email, or social media. Once you put it out there, well, it really is out there. Throughout the Universe. In perpetuity. In all media, whether now known or later devised.
Beyond making you look like a jerk, a mean spirited and/or profane attack on an individual, especially one you’re working with, indicates a lack of maturity and self-control. Part of being a professional includes respecting your colleagues – especially when you disagree.
In today’s globally connected, live-streamed, instant gratification world, the idea of stopping/thinking before acting/speaking is practically counter-intuitive. But I encourage you to throw some post-its in your bag and add the Three Day Rule to your repertoire. For while emotions are part of what of make us human, so to is our capacity to control them.
p.s.—Tune in next time, when we explore a close cousin of the Three Day Rule, the FO File. Ever get pissed at the government? Your favorite utility company? An underperforming baseball/basketball/football player? To the point where it’s a F##king Outrage?!? My advice to you in these situations is to write a letter. And then put it in the FO File – which is the place we keep the letters we write but never send.
Lunacy Productions’ head honcho Stu Pollard has helped produce dozens of independent films, including Alexandra Shiva’s documentary This Is Home (Audience Award, 2018 Sundance Film Festival), the powerful high school drama And Then I Go (2017), and Zachary Trietz’s Men Go to Battle (Best Narrative Feature, 2015 Tribeca Film Festival), as well as the rom-com Plus One and elevated thriller Rust Creek, both due out later this year. He has taught at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and Film Independent.