Katrina Pavlos is the founder of Grand Classics: a global event series whereby renowned actors, directors, musicians, artists and designers screen films that inspire them.
She began her career working for Merchant Ivory and continues as a film producer and CEO of Indyssey Entertainment. She is a wife and a mother and lives in New York City.
What kind of devices do you use, and how do you use them?
I use an iPhone and have just ordered a Punkt. phone! I use my iPhone regularly and am aiming to use it less. The constant sound of incoming texts or WhatsApp messages is to me a signal that a message‑based chat should move to a call. It's very distracting! Sometimes it takes me a few minutes just to look up if a message I know I need to respond to was on Instagram, WhatsApp, text or email. It’s a lot to juggle.
Effectiveness requires focus. How vulnerable are you to the distraction industry?
The film industry includes some automatic “shutdown” time when “all is quiet on set”. However the period of creation is a very vulnerable time. When we need to speak to people and meet people our attention should be personal and uninterrupted. I had two back-to-back meetings one day: one was with a legendary talent in her 70s who was getting calls from some of the most important people in film, and she never took the calls, the other was with a producer in her early 30s and she barely looked up as she was glued to texts, Instagram and everything else that was coming in! I think it is necessary to be disciplined, or at least aware of our behaviour.
Prominent figures in Silicon Valley are known to strongly limit their children’s contact with tech. Madonna has recently said that she believes she made a mistake in giving her older children phones when they were 13.
The differences between people who grew up before smartphones and those who didn’t?
I would imagine our brains our getting wired differently. I can no longer spell perfectly and I have completely lost the ability to memorize phone numbers: two things I was amazing at before technology took over. There is also the very addictive quality of staring at all the incoming “news”, and it must skew what “is relevant” or “is urgent”, because with smartphones we now feel we have to respond to everything immediately. Before, it could wait until we got to our offices. There was an “OFF” for our brains. We had to stare out of windows and DREAM. Daydreaming is still my favourite activity, but it requires an act of discipline to put down the smartphone and be present. That is why I want a normal phone back in my life!
Limiting the time we spend looking at devices is very important for all ages. It’s very depressing to go to a restaurant or be in a social environment and see families and friends at dinner, or out together, all glued to their devices. I tell my kids to “drop their weapons” (as I refer to their iPhones) in the house; the devices are not allowed at tables or when we go out together out of the house. The art of conversation is essential.