With over 10 years of experience in television and film, Eamon O’Rourke is an up-and-coming director and activist who’s best known for his debut film, Asking for It.
He’s based in Brooklyn, New York, where he’s previously worked as a ghostwriter, scriptwriter, actor, and production assistant for some of the biggest movies on the silver screen, including The Wolf of Wall Street. O’Rourke currently works as a director and executive producer for Me and My Friends, a production company that brings new perspectives and untold stories to Hollywood movies.
In March 2022, Eamon O’Rourke released Asking for It with Paramount. Starring Vanessa Hudgens and Luke Hemsworth, Asking for It flips the script on the dominant male narrative that’s so pervasive in action movies. In the film, the character Joey joins a gang of female vigilantes in a quest to seek justice against rapist frat boys and corrupt police.
In an effort to fight against the lack of diversity in Hollywood, Eamon O’Rourke went to great lengths to show female, Native American, and LGBTQ+ characters in his film. O’Rourke leaned on his diverse cast for direction, ensuring he told a story on screen that was a faithful representation of the community’s lived experiences. “I did my best to figure out how to make this movie responsibly, to make it in a way where I’m not telling people this is what the experience is,” he says. Eamon O’Rourke’s unusual approach reaped dividends, too: Asking for It earned a ReFrame Stamp for its diverse hiring practices.
Outside of his work in TV and film, Eamon O’Rourke is an active volunteer who’s passionate about immigrant rights, reproductive justice, economic equality, and the NYC drug crisis. He’s coached recovering addicts on acting and improv, passed out free Narcan kits to NYC venues, and volunteered to help vulnerable populations access legal aid. Eamon O’Rourke is a fixture at protests in support of NoDAPL, Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and the abortion rights movement.
Both of Eamon O’Rourke’s parents were educators in nontraditional settings. Not only did O’Rourke benefit from their outside-the-box thinking, but he also worked as a teacher at the Pierrepont School — where his mother once served as headmaster — for two years after his mother’s death. The loss of both his mother and father had a tremendous impact on O’Rourke, who has dedicated his art to supporting others who have experienced the trauma of loss.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical workday has an unusual structure to it. Writing is a very personal and solitary process and I work best not only when I am alone, but when it feels as if the whole world is resting and quiet. The hours when I am most productive don’t start until the early evening, and I will usually work until the very late hours of the night. I wake up in the late morning and usually devote the first few hours of my day to taking care of all of my personal errands, trying intentionally to keep work out of my head and be present with the other aspects of my life. In the early afternoon, I shift into what I refer to as “think mode,” where I am not actually trying to do any writing, but rather just thinking about the approaching work, to consider all of the different ways I can approach what I need to get done and to try to let myself absorb the quandaries and obstacles I will be attempting to solve and overcome. This usually consists of me playing a diverse playlist of music very loudly in my office as I pace back and forth for several hours. Music helps put me in a number of different emotional spaces, which is helpful for the often wide variety of emotional spaces I will need to be able to access when I’m writing. After that, I will sit and begin to actually write — I try to put my phone in another room to avoid mindless procrastination, which is my ultimate enemy. I begin by reading what I did the day before; fresh eyes are essential, as you sometimes think you did something brilliant, and then when you read it with less tired eyes, it makes you want to cringe. I’ll edit the things I wrote previously and then move on to the goals for the day. I will write for several hours from the late afternoon until the late evening. I take a cigarette break every 90 or so minutes and will use that time to check my phone or email; I think it’s important to give yourself some time to decompress but it’s important to compartmentalize decompression so it doesn’t invade productive time. At around 8 or 8:30 I will make dinner and watch a movie or TV show that feels relative to what I am currently working on, something that I feel brilliantly achieves what I am looking to achieve myself. After my movie and dinner break is when my best work happens. Most people are asleep and the entire world feels quiet in a way that helps me hear myself in a way I can’t always access. I will write as much as I possibly can from 10:30 p.m. until 4 a.m., without too much focus on editing the writing. This is just the time to pour out as much as I possibly can, all to be edited the following day. Productivity is a difficult thing to achieve, especially when you are the only one keeping yourself accountable. My most helpful trick for productivity on a large scale is recognizing when something isn’t going to happen and not forcing it or spending the time anxious about what I’m not doing. If I can’t produce at a given moment, let it go, let yourself do something separate, and don’t worry too much about it. The moment will pass and something will click, and then it’s time to work because it’s coming naturally and unforced. Forced work is rarely any good, but I realize this is potentially unique to the type of work I do. It sounds a little psychotic as I write this out — I sound like a vampire — but if it works it works, and for me, this works.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The short answer is by sharing. Writing is mostly a solitary experience, and alone is where I get the most actual pen to page work done, but to truly bring ideas to life I have to bounce them off other people and see what happens through these moments of conceptual collaboration. When I have an idea and flesh it out myself, I feel like I’m carving a gargoyle or some kind of crude sculpture, unmoving and in some ways trapped by the single perspective they come from. When I share those ideas and get to see how they function within someone else’s mind, the ideas burst out from their shell and show their true form. The medium I work in inherently requires someone beside me to interact with it, so having that be a part of the process and not just something that happens when I’m “done” is very useful to me. There is such a wide variety of perspectives in the world, and each one is a tool and opportunity to understand things more fully, refine ideas, and add the necessary nuances that change an idea from good to great. I particularly like to share my work with people who are very different from me — whether that’s identity factors or political and social beliefs, it doesn’t matter, just people I think experience the world differently than I do. Sharing my work with people who don’t like me or what I’m working on is my favorite and often can be the most helpful. I certainly don’t adjust my work according to what everyone I share with thinks, but I do like to get as much perspective as possible; it helps me feel like my choices are informed and not just the product of the biases of my personal experience.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Reminding myself of my long-term goals. In our professional lives, it’s rare that the thing we are doing in any single meeting/day/week is achieving what we ultimately want. It’s more common that our goals are achieved through hundreds and thousands of these moments, and sometimes it’s hard to remember why we’re doing certain things in the present, especially when they are unpleasant or uninspiring. I’m more productive when I remind myself that I’m not “doing something I don’t want to do;” I’m “doing something that is a small part of something I really want to do.”
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Jumping in the deep end as a route to accelerated growth and progress. Being in a state of discomfort, while at times being unpleasant, can be an extraordinary opportunity to learn and grow rapidly. I’m not suggesting being irresponsible with your endeavors, just that in my experience the things we need to learn in order to grow can often be learned best and fastest out of true necessity. We rarely grow when we’re comfortable; it takes being outside of our comfort zone to force us to evolve and ultimately expand that comfort zone. I find that strategically jumping into the deep end while causing stress also oftentimes shows me that I am more capable than I previously imagined myself to be.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In the earlier stages of my professional and entrepreneurial life, I used to compare my own personal progress with that of my peers — which was a huge mistake. I would get down on myself or stressed out because I wasn’t in “the place my friends or professional peers are.” That stress and negativity was a massive personal obstacle that I was creating for myself. It was also very easy for me to believe, “If I can just get to this place/stage in my work, I’ll be happy and that feeling will go away” — which was also an extremely inaccurate and unhelpful thought process. I luckily had an opportunity to speak with some of the people I most look up to in my field and explain those feelings, which they told me never go away. The advice I got was essentially, “look, you’re never going to get to a place where you’re completely satisfied and you’re always going to see the things others are doing and wish you were in a better place than you’re at.” It was very helpful understanding that my feelings weren’t something I was experiencing because I wasn’t far enough along, but rather those are emotions that are a part of professional and entrepreneurial ambition. Once I allowed myself to understand that I am on a personal journey, and that I have to navigate my goals in a personal and not comparative way, I began to move faster through the obstacles those feelings can present. Doing things for ourselves as opposed to others helps us make sure we’re coming up right — and coming up right is always better than coming up fast.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan. Even though the majority of the book is told through the lens of psychedelic drug use, I think this book is an extraordinary dive into the way our minds work, and how we have more control and capacity to actively adjust our minds than we sometimes feel. Whether you’re trying to be happier, more productive, or more inspired, this book has perspectives and information that I believe can help anyone progress their professional and personal lives to a better place.
What is your favorite quote?
“The harder I work, the luckier I get.” — Samuel Goldwyn
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.