While Palmer’s jubilance and jokes are what lit up the conversation in the room, it was his ability to be personable and honest about the realities and hardships of the film and TV industry that really made an impact. Especially when the business pushes one to feed off the validation of others, it can sometimes be difficult to keep an even keel.
“You have to enjoy what you’re doing,” Palmer said. “When I was unemployed and trying to create my own material as a producer, it was more difficult. It’s much easier having a paycheck running against walls than not having a paycheck running against walls. You have really have to believe in what you do.”
He revealed that acting and writing are just as hard as producing, if not equally as hard, especially since acting puts such a large emphasis on personal appearances. For example, Palmer explained how an actor can have all the talent but not the looks — "not tall enough, not short enough, not good looking enough, too fat, too skinny, too athletic."
Gates, who is also an actor, often helped release that tension by smirking at the audience and teasing Palmer that he's more likely to hire his actors from London — referencing how Palmer cast a British actor that he had never even met.
“We’ve known each other for a long time and I’m familiar with his work, so it’s a personal relationship,” Gates said. “We laugh and joke and such, but he’s also been a mentor of such because he got into the business before I did.”
Watching the bantering between Palmer and Gates, students felt inclined to ask questions. Palmer’s genuine connection with Gates and meaningful responses about his personal mistakes made everyone in the room feel comfortable.
Senior Drew Vollmer was one of many students who felt confident to address his own personal concerns by asking what to do when you don’t succeed in the industry. Vollmer said he appreciated the producer’s response.
“He’s really candid and honest,” Vollmer said. “He wasn’t sugarcoating anything about what to expect in the entertainment business. I liked when he talked about how to cope with failure. That one really hit home with me.”
Gates, who also hosted the event, wanted to give students like Vollmer the opportunity to talk with working professionals like Palmer and get a taste of what it is like to work in film and television. He hopes that this talk and future ones will give students the desire to pursue the entertainment industry wherever they are.
"It would be great for them if they could get their feet wet right here and then not have to go to New York or L.A.," Gates said. "There's nothing wrong with those places, but if you can do it right in your own backyard, why not?"