Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How to Stop Worrying and Love your Job

The irony is that when I actually have something worth writing about, I don't have the time to write it.

After not getting into the CFC, I had to re-evaluate my year, as I'd essentially pinned all my hopes and plans on it. I immediately decided that I had to quit my day job, as it wasn't in film or TV and was hurting my soul. Most of all, it wasn't giving me time or energy to write, so I was going nowhere by working there.

So I quit with no immediate prospects, and started looking. Some months beforehand I had made cold calls to the productions listed on the OMDC In Production list, and had spoken to a few people and sent out some resumes, but nothing had come of it. There was one person that I'd ended up chatting with more than the others, as they were also an RTA grad, and I sent him an email to say I was looking again. Well my timing was perfect, because he soon replied to say that he was working on a TV movie and they needed assistants. I went for an interview and was hired! So I'm currently the Assistant to the Executive Producer of an American TV movie. This job would never have appeared to me without having made an effort to network, or by following up later with my new contacts.

My boss is an LA producer, who does a lot of stuff for HBO and Showtime (though this specific project is a Sony/Lifetime production). I've been doing the basic admin stuff assistants are expected to do, but she's really taken an effort to make this a learning experience for me. She knows that I want to write and produce, and I've been watching all the script revisions (and how the writing affects and is affected by the production team), the casting process, the entire pre-production process, and the politics between all levels of production. She now has me doing development for her as well (for projects she wants to do after this), and I'm learning how to write coverage. Maybe I can convince her to carry me back to LA in her suitcase...

I had been the assistant to an Executive Producer once before (at a reality TV company) and from that experience I was convinced that I just simply wasn't cut out to be an assistant, all because that particular EP was basically just a cruel and unhappy person. I am glad I took this new position, because I LOVE this job. And while that's partly because I actually want to work in scripted TV, it's mostly because my new boss is awesome, and is kind and a pleasure to work with. And because I'm enjoying myself, doing a good job. Who knew that liking your job was the key to being successful at it?

At the same time, I can see that my boss is unusual in this industry, and even in my office. There is another EP, a Producer and a Director in the office, each with assistants, and mine is definitely the nicest. The other assistants all complain about how unreasonable or sadistic their bosses are. What I can see is that, if you are a boss and have an assistant, you'll get more out of being nice to them, than if you are cruel. Either way, all they want to do is impress you, and they will do whatever you want, as fast as they can. But, if you're mean to them, they'll do this out of fear and hold resentment towards you, and dread coming into work. If you're nice and show appreciation, they will work harder and longer without complaining, and they will feel a strong sense of loyalty to you. I am going to try my damnedest to remember what kind of boss I want to be, when I get there.

As a point of interest, I was partially hired because of my technical skills, with computers, programs, technology in general, ect, and I've kind of become the production's resident tech/IT guy. It never occurred to me how important that might be on a production, but I was chosen over another person because of it. I'll be sure to emphasize it more on my resume from now on. For those of you not particularly technically inclined, try to think of what skills you have that can set you aside from all the other people with exactly the same education and years of experience as you.

So, the CFC would have been a great experience, but if I'd gotten in this year I would never have been able to take this gig, and this experience and contacts I've been generating are invaluable. Hooray for failure!