Do you say it explicitly?
Definitely. In the pre-production phase, there’s more time to preempt future problems. But once I’m actually on set or shooting, then I’m going to be very direct when I talk to people. So I think it’s important to let my team know before things get stressful what not to take personally. People who work on set or in other kinds of groups are used to this dynamic. But there are plenty of people who mostly work alone, and they tend to be more sensitive to short-mannered speaking.
What are some of the red flags to look out for when entering a collaboration?
I take my cues from the first round of communication about the project: Is the attitude positive and upbeat? Do people seem to feel optimistic about the work? There are usually little cues as to whether or not the collaboration is going to be successful, and it’s a mistake to shrug those off. Collaborations between groups of people aren’t that different from a marriage: You want a basic foundation of dealing with stress similarly, being relatively optimistic and flexible, and knowing how to problem-solve quickly and without drama. If I can already tell from the first meeting that someone is excessively negative, or our values are not aligned, I don’t take the project further.
How do you balance a rigorous work schedule with finding time to rest and regroup?
There’s a large part of me that is a perfectionist: I want to be a great mother, I want to be a great wife, I want my house to always be perfect, I want to be the best at my job—I want to do all of those things. This is, of course, a perfect recipe for burning out. It’s why I force myself to turn down projects if I don’t feel I have enough time or energy to devote myself fully. In general, my life has so much multitasking already built into it that if I tried to balance multiple big, creative projects at once it wouldn’t work.
Does having two children force you to keep things simple?
After I pick up my children from school, I give all of my time and attention to them. They help me decompress, have fun and not take things too seriously.
What’s a typical evening like for you?
An evening at home, for example. Almost every afternoon starts in the huge park near our house, the Vienna Prater. The kids run around and play, climb trees and meet friends. I usually start dinner as soon as we get home. We’re finally in a phase where everyone is willing to eat the same food, so I’m not cooking for a pre-teen and a baby and two adults. My older son has reached an age where he can appreciate subtleties, so I enjoy exposing him to good music and film. I might put a kid-appropriate experimental film or music video on while I get dinner going, and I tell them about what they’re watching while I’m cooking.
When the children finally go to bed we’re like YES! Free time! But all we ever want to do once they’re in bed is talk about them and look at pictures of them on our phones. We’re so lame! Especially when we tell them we need some time by ourselves, and then all we do is keep prattling on about them once they’re asleep.