Why Thinking You Are the Boss Is a Mistake for Directors – Tom O’Brien

In his blog post, Tom O’Brien explores a common mistake made by directors: the belief that they are the ultimate authority. By uncovering the consequences of this mindset, he delves into the reasons why thinking you are the boss can be detrimental to effective leadership. With a critical eye, O’Brien examines the pitfalls that arise when directors fail to embrace collaboration, empathy, and open-mindedness. Join him as he elucidates the importance of a different approach, one that acknowledges the strengths and perspectives of others, ultimately leading to a more successful and balanced leadership style.

Why Thinking You Are the Boss Is a Mistake for Directors – Tom O’Brien


In the world of filmmaking, directors are often perceived as the ultimate authority on set. They are responsible for bringing a vision to life, managing the cast and crew, and making crucial decisions that shape the final product. However, according to Los Angeles based writer/director Tom O’Brien, thinking you are the boss can be a grave mistake for directors. In his thought-provoking video, O’Brien explores the misconception of power and shares valuable insights on how directors can lead effectively without falling into the trap of ego-driven authoritarianism.

The True Role of a Director

Contrary to popular belief, being a director is not about exerting power and control over every aspect of the filmmaking process. Instead, it is about collaboration, communication, and creating a safe space for creativity to flourish. O’Brien emphasizes that directors should act as facilitators, enabling the talents of their cast and crew to shine through. By fostering a supportive and inclusive environment, directors can inspire and encourage their team to deliver their best work.

The Pitfalls of Being the Boss

When directors adopt a boss-like mentality, it can hinder the creative process and create a toxic atmosphere on set. O’Brien explains that by considering yourself the boss, you limit your ability to listen to and learn from others. Collaboration becomes one-sided, stifling the potential for innovative ideas and fresh perspectives. Additionally, an authoritative director can foster an environment of fear and insecurity, which can ultimately demotivate and alienate team members.

The Importance of Listening

One of the key attributes of effective leadership is active listening. O’Brien emphasizes the importance of directors truly hearing what their team members have to say. By actively listening, directors can gain valuable insights, build trust, and create a sense of ownership among their collaborators. This approach empowers the cast and crew, making them feel valued and appreciated, resulting in a stronger bond and enhanced creative output.

Collaboration and Empathy

Collaboration is the cornerstone of successful filmmaking, and it thrives when empathy is at the forefront. O’Brien advocates for directors to cultivate empathy towards their team members, understanding that everyone has their own unique perspective and contribution to offer. By embracing empathy, directors can foster an environment of respect, trust, and open communication. This not only enhances the filmmaking process but also contributes to building meaningful connections with the cast and crew.


  1. What is Tom O’Brien’s background in filmmaking?
    Tom O’Brien is a Los Angeles based writer/director who also teaches acting and writing at scenestudyla.com. He has a diverse portfolio of work, including feature films, online series, and published plays. He was also a former college hockey player.

  2. Where can I find Tom O’Brien’s classes and films?
    You can find Tom O’Brien’s classes and films on scenestudyla.com. He offers a range of courses for aspiring actors and writers, and his films are available for viewing on the website as well.

  3. How can I connect with Tom O’Brien?
    Tom O’Brien can be connected with through scenestudyla.com, Instagram, Facebook, and Threads.net. These platforms provide opportunities to engage with his work and stay updated on his latest projects.

  4. Are Tom O’Brien’s films available on Netflix?
    Yes, Tom O’Brien’s second feature film, Manhattan Romance, was distributed by Netflix worldwide. It is accessible to viewers across the globe on the platform.

  5. Where can I find Tom O’Brien’s work on YouTube?
    Tom O’Brien’s work can be seen in the “Viewers Also Watched” section on YouTube. This recommendation feature highlights related content that viewers may find interesting after watching a particular video.


Tom O’Brien’s insightful video brings forward a compelling argument against the notion of directors being the boss on set. By emphasizing collaboration, active listening, and empathy, he encourages directors to adopt a more inclusive and supportive leadership style. By avoiding the pitfalls of ego-driven authoritarianism, directors can create a nurturing environment where creativity thrives and the best work is achieved. For aspiring directors and seasoned professionals alike, O’Brien’s message serves as a valuable reminder that true leadership is not about being the boss, but about empowering others to shine.

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