Born in Glasgow, Montana but raised in Helena, a city in the same state, Brandon Kirchgasler fell in love with theater at a young age. Brandon began taking part in community theater at 8 years old. From there, he gained acceptance into the Montana Shakespeare Company, where he was privileged to perform in a production of Twelfth Night, and his acting career truly began. Indeed, becoming an active member of Montana’s theater community led to his first commercial acting job at 13 years old.
While working part-time as an actor, he attended Helena High School. After graduation, Brandon continued his studies first at the Art Institute of California in San Francisco, and then Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska where Brandon Kirchgasler obtained his Bachelors of Fine Arts in Musical Theater with a minor in Mandarin. Around this time, Brandon began to seriously explore his musical talents. He formed a band called Brandon Kirchgasler and the Indestructible Band that recorded two major albums and toured together for years.
In time, he moved home to Helena, Montana. Once re-situated in his home city, Brandon realized he wanted to be of benefit to the community that gave him his love for theater. A friend reached out to him about a position with the Department of Labor and Industry with the state government. Brandon accepted this gracious offer, and since then, his various positions with the Department have fulfilled his desire to give back to the community in a meaningful manner. While working with the state of Montana, he continues to accept acting positions and will, when needed, work remotely. People can watch Brandon Kirchgasler as a regular extra on the set of Yellowstone, and other movies and television shows filmed in Montana.
Brandon Kirchgasler spends his free time playing music, participating in stage plays, and writing poetry. One of his favorite hobbies is his work as a luthier, which is repairing stringed instruments with a focus on guitars and violins.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
From the moment I began working with Marianne, the Education Director of Grandstreet Theatre, I knew acting would be my future. If you can do anything else that makes you happy, do it. Being a working actor is not easy, so you really have to love it. I also knew whatever I did to supplement my income, it would have to be something positive and giving to the community. I love the people around me and I am so glad that things worked out for me to be in the position of Legal Assistant with the state government. This has allowed me to thrive and do something I enjoy even remotely when I take on other acting jobs. I believe I am now a part of a force for positivity in the community.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I get to the office before everyone else each day. During that time, I work on urgent projects that need to be completed before the attorneys arrive. I follow that work with the larger projects on my task list. From there, it’s steady work until lunch, and then any additional urgent tasks between lunch and the close of my day. Many of the legal aides and attorneys work later, but this schedule gives me the room to dedicate myself to my craft in the evenings.
How do you bring ideas to life?
When thinking about my acting or creative career, I find bringing ideas to life takes some planning and inspiration. When I initially started writing music, it was challenging, but holding inspiration inside isn’t an option. Someone once said, “The first draft is where you get it all out. The second draft is where you make it look like you knew what you were doing the whole time.” I agree with that completely. Initially, I get the raw idea out and start digging into the project. I follow that up by distilling the results, and by applying a professional polish.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Something that happened many years ago is making a comeback. People are creating projects with specific actors and performers in mind. This is helping actors gain a better level of control. Another trend that I see and absolutely love is the fact that there is far more representation in movies and theater. Because of this, some audiences are seeing things they haven’t normally been exposed to. A great example of this is Black Panther. It was truly inspiring to finally see people who actually look like underrepresented members of our country fill the entire cast of a major motion picture. I grew up reading comic books. I loved Spider Man, but Spider Man always looked like me. He was a nerdy white boy who wore glasses with brown hair. Without realizing it, I was privileged. Now, creators are using their power to foster greater representation for people and role models of all kinds. I enjoy watching how it’s benefiting the culture in the United States. With everything going on, I think this is one of the things we’re doing right, and I love seeing it.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I don’t leave things undone. You’ll never hear me say that I’ll accomplish something without following through. I hold myself to a high standard that way, and work hard to deliver on everything I do. Add to this, meditation. It facilitates clearing my mind of the chaos from the day and opens it to creativity. I can check on myself, my thoughts, and really focus on improving or celebrating what I’ve done through the day. Daily meditation makes me the most productive.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self that you don’t have to keep everything inside. Share it with the people who love you and want to be there for you. Growing up in a single parent household, I think I subconsciously learned to hold everything inside. Only over the years have I come to understand how negatively that impacted me and those I love. I would encourage my younger self to share more of what I experience and feel at the time I’m going through it.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
We’re not always going to be the best. You’re not always going to get into the profession or hobby that you care about the most and be the greatest at it. You can put in twice as many hours as someone else and they still might be better at that thing than you. If you want to be a sculptor, you could spend years studying sculpting technique, and then someone might come in and innately just do it better than you. And I know a lot of people want to believe that you can put in all the work that you want and eventually rise to the top, but sometimes it’s just not true. Sometimes that investment will not come back to you in the way that you think that it will. I have a more positive spin on that thought, too, which is that you just need to learn to do things your own specific way. Make doing what you love uniquely yours.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
When someone approaches me or requests my help, I take a moment to ask myself what harm it would do me. Often, taking this one moment to check on myself helps put things into better perspective. Giving myself time to think the request through allows for a firm decision that benefits everyone. It’s a good method to determine the pros and cons. This applies to jobs, friendships, and creative endeavors. Take the time to assess the impact and understand your true thoughts on it.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I value everyone’s input as important. In business, we might be working on a project together from different perspectives and processes. This may facilitate a new way of learning, or a new skill for either me or the person or people I’m working with. This enables everyone concerned to move forward and grow. It may mean I have to do a bit of learning or adjusting, but still, I’m learning a whole new process. Being open to the fact that my way of thinking or doing something is not the only way opens opportunities for me to grow in numerous ways. When it comes to acting, for example, there are many exercises and approaches to learning lines and practicing. There’s no reason I can’t try something new. Perhaps a director will offer an idea to me that I hadn’t thought of, and if I try it, it might help. There’s also the possibility it won’t work for me—but if I never try it, I won’t know. By the same token, because I listen to what others share, I’ve become a source of information in my position at the Department of Labor and Industry. By being open to the input others offer, processes become more cooperative.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There are times I find my choice to move back to Montana as a limiting factor for my acting career. At a younger age, I could have done work in other cities where more filming is done. When I give that subject time and thought, I keep in mind that every time I’ve worked on the set of a TV show or on a stage I have moved my career forward. There is yet another successful feature added to my career experience. Instead of dwelling on what could have been, I choose to celebrate what is.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A friend and I tossed around an idea I feel like many people should consider: Family activity bars that include arcades and food and drinks. I remember having places like that in town. Arcades like that don’t exist any longer, but I think having a place like that the whole family can enjoy would really be a great idea for a business. I believe it would yield profits, and I also think it would be a whole lot of fun.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A few weeks ago, I drove to Missoula, which is a neighboring town that has a wonderful farmer’s market on Saturday mornings. All of the produce I bought was grown by the people I bought it from. And jam made by the person I purchased it from is always better than store-bought. This is their business, and I feel great when I’m supporting the small business owners in the community. It costs me about $100, but I am part of the small community and all those participating in the market are, as well. There’s such a temptation to simply go for convenience because we have things like online shopping and we can get precisely what we want with the click of a mouse or the touch of a finger on a smartphone. But I drove an hour and a half to this other town to take part in this farmer’s market because I wanted that experience. The direct owners of those farming businesses made me value the things that I purchased tenfold, and it was easy to spend that $100.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Script Rehearse has been a game changer for learning the text for productions. It makes practice much easier. I can even practice in the car. It’s possible to put on headphones in the gym, and mouth the words back. It’s given me a lot of freedom. I can learn my lines without compromising anything I want to do.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Musical is Drama by Scott McMillan. I suggest this book to people who want to better understand why musicals were an elevated form of a play. It really helps you to not only reframe your thoughts on the genre of musical theater, but also your perspective on the actors and performers. It’s also a good place to start learning about reframing your perspective on many things in life, as well.
What is your favorite quote?
“Of all the things I did, I hope I did one well.” I can’t remember where I read this or heard it, but it rings true in all things. I find it rings loudest during times of transition.
- Doing something you enjoy makes the work worth doing.
- Creating your path forward doesn’t have to be limited to your perspective alone.
- Listen to what others have to offer and take what you can apply to your life.
- Do not let go of your passions, even as obstacles present themselves.
- Work hard and hold yourself to the standards you know you can reach, and better.
- Be the best person you can be in any room.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.