Buy me Coffee

Following up with post earlier this week on interacting with above line folks- or literally anyone above you for that matter. Like your mom if she were a movie producer. If there’s one single piece of advice it’s this: they can do whatever they want to you.

I don’t think I can stress this enough. While I’ve been fortunate to not ever really be reamed, I’ve clearly talked enough about a certain power play lite (like diet soda for Hollywood games) that I have some context for what I’m saying. Even the head honchos assistant, she can push back on me and I can’t do a thing. Thankfully we actually get along well- but if we didn’t both really like baseball and have similar personalities she might push back on me like she does with others. I guess maybe I’m easy to get along with and am fairly non threatening like a daddy long legs v a black widow, as I’m really not gunning for anyone’s job and that’s probably apparent. Also daddy long legs still get squashed in this house- wtf?!

But I’m still new. I’m also just a basic office assistant. I haven’t even reached boss level one yet. I’m not sure where that is, but I imagine it’s like juggling 17 really complex lunch orders and not ducking (fucking iPhone, fucking!) them up. Maybe also you have to get some coffee they only get from animals poop from Asia (this exists) for the producer and you have to do all these things in under 1h with no questions. Boss level one. Your promotion? None, maybe less complex lunch orders. Also, the producers I know would not order poop coffee- this was total hyperbole. But finding wooden stirrers at the grocery store was really hard so I just stole an entire jar of them from Starbucks- hey you gotta adapt and improvise, part of being a good assistant. I’m a good assistant. Can I have a sticker (fuck off)

What was I saying? My point, yes– you have to pay your dues. You don’t get to push back. Not against Paris. Not against those who’ve been somewhere longer than you. Not against the guy at the lot who doesn’t want to lift an extra finger. Hey why though? Because you’re basic. Thankfully my crew really appreciates my basicness. They thank me and always appreciate my hard work no matter how basic I am and make sure to say so. But they don’t have to. It’s very much appreciated.

No because once you reach a certain boss level, once you become a boss, you can do whatever you want. Paris can literally launch VPN hits on my blog like doctor Robotnik launching his ball gunner machine thing at the board of a Sonic level. He can do whatever the fuck he wants because he’s a producer. He’s the boss. I can’t say shit to him that will ever make him do what I’d like him to. Nah he’ll ignore me on principle like any good boss would!

Homeboy can’t actually be like “yep you’re right lets meet for coffee. We would get along and talk about lots of cool things. We’d have amazing smoke out sessions and jam for many hours.” What? What?! No you can’t do that, that’s no fun. It’s gotta be like three months to nine years from now when I’m on boss level two and I’ll get a text like “hey” and I’ll be like “is this my Seamless order” and he’ll be like “no this is LE BEEP.” I can’t actually tell you who he is.

Anyways that’ll probably only happen at like boss level six. Think haunted forest in Super Mario World- at least! And no cutting through the ghost house secret warp thingy.

Erm, right Paris. Yea he can do whatever he wants. But let’s face it, he wouldn’t play this game if he didn’t like it. I wouldn’t play if I didn’t like it either. But I need to get a lot more power ups, I’m like Link from Zelda with three starter hearts and he’s beaten the game three times and wrote the definitive strategy guide before going live and beating it all in ten minutes. But really, this game at this point is like a greatest hit- we should make an app. I mean, you should make an app because I don’t know how to. If I did, I’d make a lot more money.

Anyways, thanks for reading. If this is Paris, please leave a message after the tone. Oh wait, nobody uses voicemail any more. Call me bro! Or don’t, because I haven’t earned it. :-3 (what is this face). I’m not high, really. This is my stream of conscious and you can’t buy my brain in a weed shop.

 

Sides of the Line

Centuries ago, most of the world was controlled by dynasties and a few families. Within each respective kingdom or nation a noble class held higher status than all those who worked their lands, tended their gardens and homes, raised their livestock and fought in their wars. The noble class didn’t associate with plebeians nor did plebeians associate with nobles. There was a strict social caste. Today we’ve come far from the revolutions that overthrew this form of governance and its social strata. However its roots can still be felt in our politics and the inequality of opportunity. Its social structure can also be felt in certain industries, nowhere more so than the entertainment industry.

This post isn’t so much a complaint as an observation as to how this industry functions from an insider perspective. Unlike the Middle Ages, people are capable of elevating their social standing through hard work and talent. Yet prior to success, all will essentially be treated the same: as expendable cogs of a giant machine.

I liked to think that because a producer paid me attention it somehow allowed me to passively encourage him to meet me in a general meeting. The audacity of that is astounding. Here is a man worth millions of dollars, divides his time between residences in two lavish cities (LA and Paris) and was once married to a highly respected and beautiful European actress with whom he has a child with.

I’m lucky one would even have me listed on twitter. He probably lives in a neighbor comparable to the Hollywood Hills if not the Hills themselves He is also probably dating a model-attractive woman who other men would lust after. He most likely still earns residuals from successful films despite not working recently and leads a financially well-off lifestyle. Do I know this for certain? Of course not. But it paints a picture of someone who would never go out of their way to socialize with me: a lowly assistant- albeit a studio employee on a writers track w/ talent & potential noticed by more than just him.

Circling back to the point of this: I am one of thousands of kids he could pay attention to.

Every day I go to work, I see the showrunner of the show I’m employed by. I am polite and say hello but that’s it. It’s not reasonable to expect him to interact with me. I don’t expect it. While things are different with that producer (I’ve interacted with him more) it’s equally unreasonable to expect him to interact with me on my terms. He is still a Hollywood producer, no matter the attention paid to me on occasion. He is so out of my league it’d take a rocket ship to reach him. He is a multimillionaire who has a child with a Bond girl and divides his time between luxurious parts of the world. I am a peasant in this world; whether he sees me as such or not.

If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering why this is. Why after centuries of rejecting this classism do we still accept it in various instances. Quite simply: access. The idea of making something or someone a scarcity increases their importance. Working in the entertainment industry is a bit like sitting at the popular table. The closer you are to the center the cooler you are. I am at the very edges of that table with thousands of others. To expect to just sit nearer the middle with him is not reasonable because I did nothing to earn access to it.

Similar to military structure, the film industry is hierarchical and relies on this structure for not only organization but promotion. Generals don’t associate with infantryman at will. There is a code of respect and distance between these ranks and only once earned is it ok to interact. It takes years and years of promotions to ever hope to do so – many won’t make it. Most won’t. So this access and hierarchy is sort of something to aspire to but also a system which keeps order.

You might still be wondering why this class system is necessary. Quite simply, that producer and those like him can act the way they want. He can act the way he does because he earned it. I literally have no right to expect anything from him. He still earned those millions through years of promotion, hard work and sacrifice. I am absolutely nothing, nothing but one of thousands of kids with potential who’d love to meet someone like him for coffee.

Even if my wildest dreams came true and he offered me a position, I’m still just an assistant. I don’t automatically elevate my own status. I don’t becomes his colleague, friend or lover. Such status is reserved for those above the line like him such as his musician friends or actors and other producers he may aspire to work with. On the relationship end, such status is reserved for the sorts of women cars slow down to look at as they shop for $10,000 hand bags on Rodeo Drive before getting into their leased Tesla or BMW. I’m perfectly content to just be his assistant, and I’m certainly not trying to be his lover- though I wouldn’t mind being his friend or professional creative partner. The point is I cannot talk to him as if I were his friend or something more. I can’t because I’m not at his level.

Finally I don’t like this rule. I respect and understand why it exists I just happen to think it’s dated. It’s the very sort of thing our founding fathers fought against in revolution. As a progressive I also find the way the industry treats class to be rather regressive. I believe I am just of deserving of his friendship as any actor or musician. I am highly intelligent, talented and strongly believe I will succeed regardless. I’d be a strong representative of him as a professional and assistant and a loyal friend as well. Simply because I have not accomplished enough yet I am not afforded that opportunity. That is because the film industry is still stuck in the Middle Ages.

Day One of Many

Today I started what feels like an actual career. While I’ve gotten a lot of work experience in the entertainment industry – most were temporary gigs, assistant roles with no advancement opportunity or just sordid dead end jobs. Granted all of those jobs helped to get where I am today, but none of them ever made me feel comfortable enough to say ‘I work in entertainment.’ Recently I wrote a post called day job blues, and that’s exactly where I was: working whatever dead end job I could in order to make ends meet while I pursued my passions on the side. Today I literally said good bye to day jobs. Today I started work on an established cable television show where my employer is one of the major television studios. I am a full time studio employee, not a gig-based hire or day player. So finally I feel comfortable to say ‘I work in entertainment’ – not only that but ‘I work in Hollywood.’

I know I have many more years before I begin to establish a career ‘above the line.’ However, everyone who works today as a writer, director or producer can recall their first show or studio project. Everyone remembers the ‘career job’ which enabled them to develop more opportunities and to become who they are today. That’s this job for me and I am over the moon.

Most importantly it’s also with a terrific crew who I can talk to with ease– a big step up from my last job where everyone was very shallow and called me ‘quiet and weird’ because I didn’t know how to talk to them. Here I am able to showcase my best qualities – including my quick wit and sense of humor. I feel super comfortable and that allows me to be my best self. When I am my best self I know I will also be most productive and therefore happy and confident in my work. All critical things since this tight knit group promotes from within. The last person in my job is now on a writers track. Some writers also started in my position, including all of the writers  assistants.

I very nearly gave up hope. I was studying for the GRE, looking at grad schools. While I told myself I wasn’t settling, deep inside I knew I was. The day job I was in robbed me of confidence and also made me borderline depressed. As a result I fell back into the old ways of courting my former mentor through his passive interaction. I found myself desperately trying to have him reach out and hope that he’d be my savior. It was very desperate and of course he never did. The reality was that my interest was not just professional, it was personal. I adore him, and would be grateful just for his friendship. However, that’s a friendship I can’t have. Nobody writes the way I did as a professional, they write that way as someone who is infatuated. I may have pushed him away.

But I don’t need him to be my savior any more. I did it, I embarked on a career without him. However, I’ll always credit his early mentorship as a critical first step in pursuing this field seriously when everyone else told me it was a pipe dream. While I don’t need him, it’s no question that I’d love to work for him one day. If the phone call never comes, I can’t say I’d be as hurt as if I were stuck in some shitty uncreative day job. I wish him well, and will always root for him to succeed.

Here’s to Day One and many more. Here’s the start to something wonderful. Here’s to the reminder that for every soaring high in this industry there will be plenty of lows. Here’s to knowing that it will takes years of hard work before serious pay off. Here’s to absolutely without question knowing that the move to LA was the best decision I’ve made in years and hopefully will remain so in the years to come.