Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Anonymous Casting Call

As per usual with every job I do, there's this big confidentiality agreement thing that prevents me from saying anything really interesting. So, I'll just say that I worked on a reality show casting call audition for the past few days. It was incredibly boring. I'd probably make a terrible casting director. Out of the hundred or so people they saw, there were maybe ten that were really stellar and of that ten, probably only 3 or 4 will be cast. What's crazy is that this was the last round of auditions, so they'd narrowed the pool down to 100 from what had to be more like 500 if not more.

I thought about writing a really long post about the casting process or something with some sort of insight as to how it all works but I'm opting for the slacker route instead. I'm making a reality show audition video that will hopefully be up in a few days. Then, everyone will know the pain and agony casting directors go through. Hopefully, my video will be taken super seriously, because lets just face it: I would love to be America's Next Top Production Assistant.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Frivolous Fridays

This is going to be a new section about all the things I think about when I'm doing the mind numbing work of being a production assistant. Today, I'd like to talk about all the things I wanted to be when I grew up, before, for whatever ridiculous reason, I decided to go into the production world and write blog posts that contain an inordinate amount of comma splices.

1. A Medieval Knight
2. Rambo
3. broadway star
4. playwright
5. lawyer
6. doctor
7. history teacher
8. documentary film maker
9. screen writer
10. studio executive

Yup, it's been a wild ride. Done everything from sword training to anatomical training using dead bodies. I write some, I lie some, I tell the truth some, and I tell others a bit of everything sometimes about something completely and utterly unimportant. Did you know that atoms are 99.99999% vacuum? That means that your body is pretty much made up of stuff that has the molecular composition of nothing. What does that mean for you and me? No one knows.

What it does mean, is that I have often entirely too much time on my hands when I'm sitting outside a house that's being used as a set and I find myself acting as "doorman" minus the fancy outfit. I hope you enjoyed this very first addition of "Frivolous Fridays"and I am excited to report that in the future you can look forward to more video content and who knows... celebrities? We'll see.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hire a PA.

Dear producers,

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to fix a problem on your show is to hire additional production assistants. So, why not hire me? Need an ego boost? Someone to look down on? Someone to send out in traffic? Someone to screw up your coffee orders? Someone to make you feel good for going to an ivy league school instead of a state school? I'm your guy. In fact, I'm your man. It's not rocket science, it's not even science science. You need me to help you with your show and for what better purpose than to just feel good knowing you hired some kid who was out of work, in need of money, that you helped get a job and a leg up in the world. Give yourself a hug and hire me today! You won't regret it. At least not too much.

Sincerely yours,
The Film Slave

P.S. I will probably blog about it and ridicule you to the full length of my confidentiality agreement.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

No ATL Job

Sadly, after spending nearly six and a half hours in the car Friday, my quest to Atlanta to apply for the PA position was in vain. The AD said she'd keep me in mind as a day player, but I think that was just consolation talk. She said they gave the positions to people with more experience. Go figure.

I'm hearing this a lot these days and reading it on a lot of job descriptions: "Must have 2-5 years experience." Yet, how is it we get experience? Could it possibly because someone hires us? Furthermore, what experience does someone really need to be a decent production assistant? It's the same shit, different show. Every time.

I'm feeling really invalidated and worthless these days. It seemed not so long ago I felt that I was good at all this and that things were really starting to look up. Guess it just goes to show how unbelievably unpredictable this business is.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

ATL - Job interview

So I drove to Atlanta Friday for a job interview with a television show pilot that is getting ready to shoot next week. It was quite a thing having to drive from Birmingham to Atlanta just for an interview so I hope it went well. I got no indication from the ADs I talked to that they liked me or anything. It was short, weird, and I was very mind numbed from having driven two and half hours to make it to the interview by 3:30. On top of that, I was 15 minutes late which was made worse when I got there. A man came out of a building and told me I parked in a place I wasn't supposed to park in so I had to move my car.

It's only a two week job but it's one I desperately need. I haven't worked around Altanta film people much so this would be a great opportunity to do so and perhaps get more jobs.

On the second thought if this whole thing doesn't work out, it seems to just play into the court of opinion saying that maybe this career is not the best one to have decided to go into. I should find out something Monday. Fingers are crossed.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

NBC - Where art thou?

I used to love NBC. It was my favorite network, so to write a post complaining about its crap programming and failure to do anything different anymore is really a sad thing. When I found out that they were reignited Donald Trump's, "Apprentice" series and tailoring it to the new economy to try and capitalize on the success of "Undercover Boss" my jaw hit the floor. It won't work. The Trump is Trumped. It's like asking Marie Antoinnette to dole out advice to her starving peasants. NBC wants to jump on the bandwagon spoon feeding Americans doses of confidence about the executives who run the world but for what, good PR? That's all "Undercover Boss," is, just with a good dose of crying, sappy music, and loads of fancy promises. Now what would be fun is to get a homeless guy to have a show about "tips for living on the street when your boss's plans to reboot the company fail."

Reality, as everyone knows, is the seventh layer of hell of the entertainment world. "The Biggest Loser" is NBC's cornerstone reality show now and probably will be for a while longer. Meanwhile, Law & Order is still holding it down, somehow... It's always amazed me how that show just keeps going and going and going.

Now, lets be fair, NBC does do a decent job at comedy and always has. Current shows like "The Office," "Scrubs," "30 Rock" and the more recent "community" are pretty funny but does the network have anything else? Saturday Night Live is touch-and-go, and if I ever watch it, it's never Saturday night and it's only for individual skits that I can just watch on my computer. What happened to the network that had everything? Oh, don't get me wrong, they have a lot, but it's mostly mediocre. They were the network with Seinfeld, ER, Leno, Letterman, Cosby, Star Trek, Frasier and 3rd rock from the sun but what now?

Thank god they have "Wheel of Fortune" but how long is that going to last before it too is in danger? It seemed like the late shows would never go out of fashion but now... With Conan giving NBC "the finger" things are not looking good. The Leno fiascos resemble nothing but a company that doesn't know what it's doing, which is made further obvious with their choices in a lack of innovative programming in anything but comedy? "Trauma" was an obvious throwback to the "ER" days and that failed pretty bad this season.

So my point is this NBC, if you read, which you won't, but imagining you were: stop playing grab-ass with CBS and do what you used to be good at. Your parent company GE is good at innovating, you used to be to, so start innovating. Hire me as a writer, I've got a boat load of show ideas on this here computer and would love to share them with you.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Endless Free-Lance Spiral

I think this has happened to every one of my friends who starts out in this business and I can safely report it's happening to me too. I've entered into a sort of free fall with my finances based on the fact that all my income is theoretical until it appears to me in physical form via check in the mail. The mail is a hard thing to predict, even harder to predict: the whim of an accounting office. Now usually I can tell when I work for a major production company who is using one of the big pay roll firms like Entertainment Partners, I know I'll get paid within a week to two weeks. No big deal there. A bigger deal though is some of these smaller more local based companies who want me to send them an invoice--which they can then lose--at which point I have no idea when to predict when that magical check will arrive in the mail.

So, that's the gist of the spiral. You do a few days of work for (x) amount of dollars that you then get paid for (y) weeks later. This would be fine but land lords, utility companies, cell phone companies and insurance companies all want their money paid on time. Welcome to free fall. As soon as one check arrives in the mail it immediately goes towards paying for something that has backed up while waiting on other checks in the mail. Meantime--you gotta eat--so thus more stuff backs up and then by the time you to a point where you know you can pay it all off, you still can't because you're waiting on checks in the mail and all the while more bills keep coming.

I'm not sure I ever anticipated this part of free-lancing. I've definitely screwed up how I spend my money some how, not sure where, but it's really starting to hurt. I feel like I need to take out a loan or something, pay everything off and reset at 0. That would be nice in an ideal world but is it really possible? For me, it all depends on how much I work, and when I don't work, that more than anything is probably the cause of the spiral, not the mail or accounting offices.

P.S.---This led me thinking about another completely different point. Are companies really being rational when they look at your credit score while hiring you? If someone has been unemployed and thus, in a real need for a job, wouldn't their credit score be a bit lower because they are trying to make ends meet? Based on this isn't it unfair for companies to take a look at these scores as a basis for whether or not to hire people? Can't get a good paying job because you're in debt and can't get out of debt because you can't get a good paying job. It's another spiral.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

another day job

Resumés went out and it seems that the production gods aren't done with me yet.

Unrelated to any of that though, I got a call from a friend wanting me to cover for her on a shoot tomorrow. Things are starting to look better I believe. Everyone I've talked to has had problems like this starting out, where the work is too slow to be worth it and it would probably be better just quitting. It's a really odd set of job skills that we have in this business. When I was applying for other part time jobs, I think part of the reason people didn't hire me is because it seems that I have a pretty good thing going working in this business and they couldn't understand why I was trying to do something else. Whether that's true or not, it's hard to explain to someone why we do what we do and the way and how and reasons why we do it. It's certainly not money. It's certainly not because I particularly like having to get up at 5:30 in the morning or earlier and working for 15 hours or more at a time. Maybe it's a combination of the excitement and stress and extreme pressure, I dunno. Maybe those of us who choose this life are gluttons for punishment? Who knows.

In other news the Oscars are this weekend. Golden Age of Hollywood or not, I'll probably not watch them. Reading the results in the morning will be about the same. Some people really get into placing bets and trying to guess who is going to win what. It's fun and I've done it before but it's not really for me. All told, last year was a great year for the movie business and hopefully this year will be even better--depending on who you are. For those of us production assistants at the bottom, it will pretty much be the same-ole same. We'll see, as the saying goes: "It is, what it is."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Sending out of the resumés

Yeah, so that break I talked about a while back really has just turned into a continuous period of unemployment. I thought I'd be able to lock down a part time job, work some, write some, work some, but I have failed. Free-lancing in production seems to be the only thing I'm capable of doing right now and it's probably for the best. I know I wouldn't be very happy at Barnes and Noble stocking books on shelves or serving food to the rude patrons at the restaurant I used to work at. So here we are, sending out resumés and waiting for the fish to bite. Oh, to only work again...