Tyler Silvers did every job you can imagine on TV and film sets before he became the Creator, Executive Producer, andsStar of the hilarious and poignant comedy series “Becoming Jiff” on Amazon Prime Video (which was recently included on the 2019 Primetime Emmy Award Shortlist for Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series.) “I wanted to learn everything. I started as a production assistant, casting assistant, delivery boy, then worked on sets, worked in editing rooms, worked as an actor, and just tried to absorb as much as possible. Then I started writing, directing, and acting in my own short films. I think the best way to learn is to do.”
According to Silvers, one of the most impressive things that you can do is to make something that is inspirational and optimistic, while still being realistic. He says that it’s easy to make something that’s depressing or unrealistically happy, and that those don’t serve much of a profound purpose. He feels that especially when things in the world are tough, that’s when it’s most important to create something that is unique, engaging, and life-affirming.
Some practical advice he has is to always write down any ideas that you have on a notepad or in your phone or on the computer, and keep compiling your ideas. Don’t sit on the computer and try to force it out, rather keep writing notes, keep writing scenes and characters, and then one day you can sit down and have it all pour out of you. It will not be perfect, but you also can’t be complacent with your ideas either, “One day you will have to sit down and take that leap, but make sure you have your parachute, meaning the ideas that you’ve written down, before you jump,” he says.
Silvers loves the acting process. He says, “I love the sort of existential release you have when you’re truly in the moment. Nothing matters but what is going on in that situation with those actors. It’s like the high a sprinter gets running a 40-yard dash, or the feeling a baseball player gets before he hits a ball. You are in the moment, and reacting.”
But on a more practical level, his advice for actors is that you need to remember that you are one part of a larger machine. You are there to help the director, producer, and writer, and be the best tool in their toolbox. It is not about you, it is about the story. “Do what helps the film, not what you think helps you personally. And, funny enough, ultimately, doing this is what helps you the most as well.”
Silvers believes that the most important part of a project for an actor is the actual production, for an editor it is post-production, and for a producer it is pre-production. “As a producer you need to try and solve all of your problems in pre-production, and try to have safety valves in place for all problems that may arise later. Obviously you will still have issues on set, everyone does. But if you do your job well in pre-production you’ll have a lot less,” he says. And when production starts he believes it’s very important for you to be adaptable in all situations.
“I think of the very famous Bruce Lee quote when I think about producing: ‘You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.’”
Silvers’ process has been very fruitful so far. Now with a hit comedy series under his belt, what is next for him?
He is currently working on a time-travel comedy feature film with his creative collaborator and brother, Forrest Silvers, and he can be heard on his hilarious podcast “Quadruple Overtime,” whose past guests have included writers and comedians from “Saturday Night Live,” “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “The Wall Street Journal,” “The Washington Post,” and many others.
With everything that he has done, what is something that Silvers has learned that has stuck with him the most?
“The most important thing is to keep an open mind, and always keep learning.”