I’m having one of these days – feels like every day is like that at the moment. And it is wonderful. Things are happening so fast with One More Day. I feel blessed and energized. What have I done with Jean? Am I on drugs? Who knows, and no.
Archive for the ‘Office spaces’ Category
I’ve waited a long time to write this blog, because, well, because I’ve always known I was too angry to write it safely in the past. Now, I feel I’m ready because I’ve recently risen above what would have been some of my old-school knee-jerk responses to the bitches in question. The Bitches? But aren’t I a feminist? Sure I am. That’s exactly why I make a special case for certain girls: a special case for casting them out of my professional circle of trust, forever.
There’s a certain type of woman I’ve had the misfortune to work with a few times. They remind me of this world traveler type, a mutual friend of my Mom and my Dad’s, who stayed in our house once when we were away. We came back from holiday, exhausted after hitch hiking for two days, to find our home a complete mess. My mother took it up with her. I was in the room as they shouted at each other, each giving as good as they got. Both crazy women, screaming. Nasty stuff. Then… my dad walked in. This woman instantly turned on the waterworks, acting like my Mom had attacked her cruelly. Next thing? My dad was comforting the bitch – even though he was just as angry with her when we first arrived. My mother stood there, flabbergasted, staring.
I’ve had numerous colleagues like this. They generally sucked up to the male boss to get the job, then sucked up to him to keep it. They tended to ignore the women in meetings and flirt like mad with the guys. Call them on it? I tried a few times. They cried a few times. Guess who got burned? These are intelligent women. I got burned. I got burned, bad.
Lately I’ve had to deal with it at film school with one person, who only works cooperatively with male directors, and who flirts with the professors. She sat next to one professor all semester (a particularly insecure and egotistical little overgrown boy of a man) and actually played with his hair, during classes. I bet she got an A. She boasted to me about how she was a another professor’s “favorite” to me in an almost threatening manner after causing huge trouble for me on both occasions we worked together. Who knows what effect that had. Another person she worked with, who used to be friendly, doesn’t smile at me anymore. And you should hear what she told me about what he said about other people on his crew. It’s not like he should be trusting her!
I thought perhaps I was angrily imagining just what I wanted to see. Then She came into a class recently and told the professor “You are my favourite professor. You are the best ever.” You should have seen him smile. They still exchange little flirty comments in every class. She expresses her cute, helpless confusion every now and then, earning a loving chuckle from him. She’s pretty. She’s clever. She’s talented.
And she’s lazy.
Don’t get me wrong, the men who play this game are just as pathetic and just as much to blame – not less so because with no exceptions, they’re the source of the problem. These girls are all, in my experience, wealthy daughters of powerful fathers who were busy a lot of the time, earning money. Instead of being real fathers, they just gave their daughters whatever they asked for. You can tell these girls grew up with servants, with pocket money, and with the knowledge that they’d never want for cash. They are either designer hippies or brand whores. They waltz right in and buy the exact car they want, brand new. When you tell them they can’t have what they want right now, they give you a look that says “If you tried that where I’m from… my Daddy would kill you.” And he would. Every time the little darling cried, she got just what she wanted. And every time she cries, she still does.
The less cute girls, or the girls with morals, or the girls who pay their own way? Well, we don’t have to rely on the sympathy of men to get our work done. Of course, our success doesn’t flatter these insecure men, because they didn’t give it to us. They are so insecure that they like the ass-lickers more. And so they ask us to befriend the backstabbing chicks. And they accuse us of “jealousy” if we don’t girl it up with them. Jealous? Seriously, I fail to see what we should be envying here. These girls are are pathetic. Their actions degrade our professional ethics. They’re playing the stereotype we are longing to escape. They turn our stomachs. They roll our eyes. They insult us to the core.
We shouldn’t have to put up with and hire the kind of insufferable little brown-nosers who make a joke of feminism, of hard work, and of pride. We shouldn’t have to respect the men whose egos perpetuate this bullshit. But sadly, we do have to. Because the men who buy their crap are still our bosses.
…and I’m done for now.
I fought with a very close friend after a film shoot recently. He did a whole bunch of crazily unprofessional things on set that led me to be somewhat annoyed with him on the day – things that I would consider commonsense no-nos in any professional situation. I started off explaining, hit a brick wall, and wound up pretty pissed off, and momentarily distracted from my work. The atmosphere was briefly soured by his actions and my reaction to him. As he was someone who claimed to have film-school experience, I was counting on him more than most to be a useful crew member. Instead… well I won’t go into details.
Anyway, the whole stupid, depressing, miserable, heart-breaking thing got me thinking about the mistakes most people new to a film set (and this includes me) have made while learning the ropes. I wish I’d had this list when I started crewing on student things a couple of years back. I wish everybody who worked while I was A.D. or director had a list like this.
So my top # DON’Ts of an indie film set are DON’T…
SHOW UP LATE / NOT SHOW UP
Films are made at weird times of the day – when the light is diffused, or pretty, or when the story calls for it, or when the wind isn’t blowing. This may not suit your sleep cycle, but that’s why God invented alarm clocks. I had someone show up three hours after the shoot started and waste everybody’s time by being confused about what to do. Being late means missing the crew meeting (see below) and will be seen by the rest of the crew as an insult to everybody. They were there on time. What makes you special?
If you’re late… Play catch-up. Be very polite. Introduce yourself and offer to help. Fetch people water. Whatever… you owe them.
MISS THE CREW MEETING (aka safety meeting)
At the crew meeting (it kicks off the day), everybody gets to meet each other (duh) and, sometimes, roles are even clarified. It depends whether you’ve been able to meet before the first shoot day, or not. We hadn’t been able to. At the meeting, the Assistant Director will also give important legal, safety and other information. It’s where you find out what to do and where to do it, and who is in charge of what. If you’re not there for the meeting, you will piss people off all day long by fucking up continually.
If you miss it… be patient, and find things to do. Don’t expect people to know your name until after lunch. They’re busy working.
MAKE SNIDE COMMENTS
Everybody on an indie film set is indispensable. This of course doesn’t mean you’re busy all the time (more on that later) but it does mean that everybody deserves respect. Comments like “just a grip”, or “a grip is just basically a pack mule”, specially from some idiot who is trying to pretend s/he knows more than s/he does, when they probably don’t even know how to assemble a dolly properly, will not go down well.
If you slip just stop as soon as you can. Don’t explain. Just shut up for a bit.
Think of a film set like a 12-step meeting. People are doing something very hard – baring their souls (actors). To allow them to do that, there needs to be a focused, respectful atmosphere on set. Commenting on proceedings might get you a laugh, or pass those long hours spent standing around waiting to work, but it’s a sign of insecurity and a need to be the center of attention. It’s not only distracting for everybody on set, and unhelpful to the process of getting things done as quickly as they must be, it also means not one, but two people are out of the loop – gossips usually need someone to talk to, as well as about. I have been guilty of talking about other films / future projects on set (I was gripping, and thought I had nothing better to do at the time). This is one of the worst forms of gossip as it takes everybody out of the moment, and also makes them wonder what you’ll say about them once this is over. I was told off once – and not politely.
If you start, say “sorry” and stop immediately.
BREAK THE SET RULES
The A.D. will go through these in the meeting but sometimes, a few get forgotten. For instance, the A.D. may assume that nobody in their right mind would smoke while on duty, or leave the set without informing someone. But if you do find yourself being told something is against the rules, you should assume there’s a good reason for it. For instance, film sets are full of flammables, such as cloths in metal frames that you might need to pick up and hold. Or you’re shooting in a nature reserve / a non-smoker’s house and could lose your permit just like that. This isn’t high school. Being a rebel isn’t cool. It’s just annoying.
If you mess up just do as you’re told – don’t make people act like your mother.
EQUATE “PROFESSIONAL” WITH “PAID”
Of course we all want to be paid to do what we love. But the chances are the director of an indie film is paying for everything themselves – and they can’t pay you too because the food for the tiny little crew and the equipment they had to hire is costing at least $400 a day. So you’re easily replaced if you just say no in advance, because there are plenty of people who want to make films and want the free training they’ll get on set. Yes you are there as a favour to the person making the film. And of course they’re grateful. But you’re also presumably there because you want to be, and to learn something, and to make contacts, and to have fun working. If you think that doing a favour means you can show up late, do sloppy work, refuse to take orders, or expect people to remember your name on the first day, you should never have said yes to the gig in the first place. Film sets are hard work.
If you realise you hate making films… work your sentence. And say no next time.
GET INJURED / KILLED
A grip on one of my shoots saved a poly by hanging on to it as he flew 3 metres through the air… he could have died trying to save a piece of equipment that’s only worth a few hundred dollars. Of course, he had all the best intentions. But had he been seriously hurt, I would never have forgiven myself. The shoot would have been shut down. A few of us could never have worked again. And oh, he could have been dead. Not worth it. Tied to this is the logic behind everybody being focussed at all time, not chatting, or messing around. It’s not cause the A.D. is a bitch. It’s so nobody gets hurt. Without blaming anybody, there’s no way he should have been holding that poly alone in the first place.
If you’re hurt… admit it. It’s only a movie. Nobody should die for it.
BREAK STUFF AND NOT TELL
Stuff gets broken sometimes. It’s not great, it costs money, but it happens. The funders will pay the cost, not you. What’s important is that you own up, so that the crew can make a contingency plan to replace the equipment or do things a new way, and the director can replace anything that might belong to, for example, the person who lives at the location you’re using. I’ve never had this happen to me – I’ve been so lucky that way. But I know of many sets on which someone messes up and is too scared to talk.
If you see something’s broken… tell someone asap. You don’t have to tell on anyone. Just get the info out there.
BE SCARED TO ASK FOR HELP
Particularly when you’re new on a set and working for free, you have a right to learn. That is your payment, really. So if someone tells you to “go and fetch a half apple” and you don’t know what that is, ASK. Someone on a set once literally went and fetched an apple, cut it in half, and rushed it over to the shoot. We’re all glad they did, cause it was hilarious. But what they were really looking for is a six sided wooden box that comes in a “family” of apples, and, if a “full” apple, can be used New York, Chicago, or LA.
If you don’t know… right. Also there’s always google.
TAKE IT PERSONALLY WHEN YOU’RE TOLD OFF
This is the hardest thing of all. BY FAR. Film sets are stressful environments. There’s a lot at stake! Money, time, your reputations… This is what’s fun and exciting about them. It’s also what makes you feel so bonded as a crew when the film is finished. It’s also what makes the place a hotbed of emotion. If someone messes up my shoot because they can’t let their ego go, I will probably not work with them again, ever. So it’s tempting to explain why you’re right when you’re told off, or to lose your temper when someone makes an honest mistake. I know how hard this is. When I second A.C.d on a shoot once, I clashed with the first A.C. A lot. Not for any real reason. I wound up in tears. There is footage of me slating while bawling. So embarrassing. But I stayed on that set. And I’m stronger for it now. I’ve learned that losing your temper is not worth it in the end. Your ego, and dignity, are not the same thing. Even if the person who pissed you off is wrong / to big for their boots, the film is what’s important.
We all screw up – be forgiving and remember what matters.
AND THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO… THE VERY WORST?
Jump ship. You do that, you’ll never get back on set, ever. Maybe that’s what you want! But don’t think anyone will ever be okay with it. The day of the shoot (or the day before) is way too late to find new crew. Once you say you’re in, you’re there for the whole thing. And if you do jump ship, there’s no reason that justifies it. For safety reasons, you should also always tell the A.D. if you leave the set – they are responsible for marshaling people as well as making sure nobody gets lost or injured on set.
Done it already? An honest apology free of accusations might save your relationship with the key creatives.
A lot of this is commonsense. As in, don’t make people wonder why your mother didn’t teach you any manners. I’m sure I forgot a bunch of things. There are so many ways to embarrass yourself on set, without even becoming an actor. But as with most situations in life and work, you can make mistakes and nobody will hate you for it, so long as you learn from them and move on. Caring about the important stuff counts more than being perfect – at least in my book.
Cameron Diaz pees in the shower. That’s what I heard, shortly before I left, in any case, on the radio – from an SABC station.
Seems since they got this news, the authorities in charge of amenities at South Africa’s national broadcaster have taken pre-emptive action, just in case she were to say, show up in the men’s bathroom after a surf at Sun City.
Look out, sloppy chick. That kind of low class planet-saving hippy crap won’t be tolerated in OUR environment.
Reminds me of this amazing guy I saw in Ottery CT – a suburb that is only known for the MACRO, and looks like it was vomited out onto the flattened sand dunes – walking around in a T-Shirt that loudly proclaimed I’M IN MIAMI, BITCH. Sure you are, dude. Sure you are.
This ridiculous piece of fake old fake art doesn’t belong on this building – let alone in this century.
It‘s possible for me to walk past weird things without noticing them, sometimes for weeks. In the most recent case, for six and a half months.
I know where I’ve seen crazy shit like this before – in Rome, a city so bursting with religious pornography disguised as “art” that I left Italy convinced, once and for all, that Jesus was, indeed and for sure, coming. And while I’m making fun of it, I can excuse the Italians of the time on the basis that they didn’t know it was wrong to have sex with children, and that they genuinely believed it was fine to treat women like property, and that enslaving entire populations was, well, just normal, then …Right?
Well, no, actually, I don’t really think that these things are ever normal. Some nastiness, like sexism, or homophobia, or racism, or ageism, or pedophilia are just wrong. That’s why they disappear (only to reappear among people who have forgotten how it feels to be the one under someone else’s thumb.) But I can bring myself to forgive people who’ve been dead a few centuries. Even I am not one to hold a grudge that long.
However this is 2011, and this “carving” can’t be more than 40 years old. And I find it impossible to understand why a 21st Century Bank in the U.S.A. would include a nonsense of this kind in its wall. I guess some people must buy into it, or it wouldn’t be there?
Alternatively, like me, most people just haven’t noticed yet.
One friend says it’s the lunar something. Another friend says it’s hormones. Another friend doesn’t want to be friends. And me? Well who knows what I want – and who (more importantly) even cares. In any case, there’s a weird vibe on the semi-deserted campus right now – something to do with something about the way some unknown force affects men of a certain age – and I just had to get out before the emotional undertow sucked me into its murky, self-destructive depths forever.
Orange may look like a nice enough place. But you’d be surprised what a combination of bad judgment and cheap booze can achieve.
And the alternatives to the undertow are just… getting boring. I didn’t come all the way to the amazing USA to sit in my one-bedroomed apartment with the blinds closed, surfing the web, watching stuff on Netflix, talking to people on farkbook chat. I can write anywhere, right?
So I filled her up and put her in drive, turned Gomez up full blast and typed “Golden Gate Bridge” into my GPS: Come on / Come on over / When we collide, we’ll see what gets left over. You said it Ben, you said it.
A good long distance drive is like making your own movie on an endless dolly. Beats any ride at Disneyland. You need supply is a soundtrack, snacks and caffeine. And USA’s roads are tailor-made for my romance with the all-American obsession with burning gasoline. Miles and miles of unexplored terrain. Generally good drivers. Cheap gas. And the opportunity to eat the kind of junk food that only tastes good when you’re going 70mph – chili cheetos and starbucks energy-coffee combo. Brown mountains and misty farmlands peeling back in full 3D while the music tears a wisdom-sized hole in your eardrum. I’d do well to keep these words in mind: When all’s said and done / The things that were given were the things that you won.
I stopped near Bakersfield for a curry at The Taste of India – mostly because of their massive billboards, advertising for about 5 miles before and dominating the little stop that consists of three motels with Jacuzzi suits, a McDonalds etc. etc., a truck mechanic and a gas station. They specialise in Vegan food.
It may not be the best curry I’ve ever eaten. In fact, it isn’t really curry, if curries are spicy by definition. But it’s definitely the most expensive curry I’ve ever had… not counting the $20 in gas it took to get here in my ‘stang. God I love that car. Not because it’s practical. It’s not. It’s rear wheel drive and I’m rear-ending the planet every time I put foot. It just SCREAMS “I couldn’t afford a corvette”. My suitcase doesn’t fit in the boot.
But I feel like a racing driver every time I accelerate.
Four hours remain, according to Maggie Magellan; my constant companion, my first American friend. To make fun of myself, I searched Google for motels in San Fran with lunar-themed names. So the Luna Inn – yes really. That’s where I’m headed.
Cause sometimes surrendering to my inner crazy-person beats actually beats making another bad decision.
Or, so my study of the Dodge College women’s bathrooms seems to indicate. And sprinkling the seat is only the beginning of the horrors to be endured.
Despite the lack of privacy provided by the average public toilet in the USA, women sure do get up to some weird shit.
Anyone who knows me relatively well knows that I will instantly refuse to date someone I really like if they pee on my toilet floor or seat and fail to wipe it up. There’s nothing less sexy than jumping out of a post-lovemaking snuggle to go to the bathroom and standing in bare feet in the chilly wetness of a guy’s urine. All attraction instantly fades as you wipe your feet with toilet paper. Time to figure out how to kick him out so you can have a hot shower, and wish this never happened. With any luck, most men make the mistake before you make the mistake of ending up in bed with him, but I haven’t always been that lucky or I’d probably still be a virgin.
As you can imagine, my intolerance for standing in urine significantly limits my dating “pool”. Or “Puddle”, really. Men are known to be filthy beasts. Some even consider it part of their appeal. And the unmade bed, the collection of socks hidden underneath it minutes before guests arrive, and the general lack of anal-ness can be reassuring signs of heterosexuality for many. For me, they’re like a low-level pot dependency: a sign of potential for worst.
And of course I am on shaky ground here. I have my own bad habits. I get the toothpaste out of the tube with my mouth. I drink from the milk carton – and refuse to stop, no matter how much my partner may hate it. I have no sleep pattern.
But recently I’ve learned that a lot of other women are much, much more disgusting than I am, when they find themselves alone in a public toilet in any case. Some of their favourite habits amaze me, like…
NESTING Americans are terrified of germs. It’s like mass-O.C.D. This doesn’t mean they get sick any less than anyone else, just that they’re paranoid. So all toilet seats come with paper covers, which can be placed over the seat and flushed away. Although germs can penetrate 30 layers of paper, America happily destroys rainforests to protect their buts from germs. I don’t get it… if I were a germ, I’d personally want to be protected from your but. But that’s just me. Then to make this all worse, they don’t flush them away. So when you come to use the toilet, you have to pick up their peed on paper and get rid of it first. Then go wash your hands, then go back in.
SMEARING: I’ve seen this all over the world. But it remains an endless source of fascination to me that a woman can somehow manage to smear blood and much worse things all over the toilet seat. It seems like a real physical feat, unless, possibly, there are women out there with vaginas and asses in the weirdest places. If there are, send me the link? But what’s weirder is how they then fail to notice and clean it up afterwards. I am beginning to wonder if it’s some kind of weird O.C.D. toilet fetish. I mean, it makes no sense. Even if common human decency doesn’t spur these chicks to clean up their mess, surely the fear of getting caught should do the trick? But no…
SPRINKLING: Looks like a guy’s been in there. What the hell happened? When women and learned to pee sitting down, the world became a better place. Considerate guys know how to do it too. This just feels like backsliding. And in any case, if you really want to pee standing up, chicks, please, learn to do a better job than the average piss-drunk undergrad.
Yes, I have too much work to do to be blogging about my fellow-students’ toilet habits, but after spending 6 hours in the video lab last night, and using the toilet 3 times in that shift, I had to get this off my chest.
Before I threw myself off that big career cliff and went to film school, when I was still Editor at News24’s entertainment site, my friend and Movies section editor (and one of the best style subs and writers I’ve ever worked with), Shaheema Barodien suddenly developed this habit of going “Meow!” at random moments. It was totally bizarre, and I was worried that something was wrong. So after I managed to get her to stop listening to indie rock and talk to me, I asked her about it. Turns out she was doing the Muslim equivalent of lent. Catching up on missed days during the fast, and behaving better. EquivaLent? Anyhow. It was in March or April or something. And she was going Meow! instead of swearing, every time she was tempted.
Which in our office, was really, really often. It was like a freekin’ barnyard next to my desk.
We screenwriters do table reads – basically reading out loud in which we get to cast other writers in the parts – to figure out what’s working and what’s not. There’s a girl in the class who says Fudge instead of Fuck, and Gosh instead of God when she reads. It’s like me when I have to say God, I just swallow the word. Or I say Fuck instead. It doesn’t change the meaning. But the meow! did. That stuck with me. That was funny. That was fucking funny.
9976 miles or 16051.38 kilometers and I can stand for five minutes staring at a sign, smiling. I didn’t know, at the time that I heard that meow! that I’d ever be here. And yet now somehow, it all seems so inevitable.
That cliche that “life’s a funny thing” is right there with all the other true cliches. I try not to have helpful encouraging fridge magnets (but I do). I try not to borrow my wisdom from signboards in coffee shops. But I do today.
See I went to an event at the Directors Guild of America on Sunset Blvd, which is something I would never have predicted I’d be doing about, oh, say three years back, when I was actually fully convinced I should just cut my losses, walk into the sea and keep going. I don’t think I would be very good as a psychic, reading crystal balls and so on. Nothing has ever worked out the way I expected, specially as I’m pretty much exactly the person Paul Simon described in “Something so Right.”
I’m not a director (unless that school play counts) but Randal Kleiser said I should attend this event, so I did. I mean who’s going to turn down the chance to see people like Gary Fleder (Things to do in Denver When You’re Dead), Aaron Schneider (Get Low) and Penelope Spheeris (The Decline of Western Civilization I, II, and III) talk about how they got to somewhere near the top of the game?
After hearing them all speak, I was left with one main thought: I have no time to lose. No time at all. Schneider spoke of how after his short film Two Soldiers won an Oscar he got 20 meetings, but not one job… and how it took him five years to make Get Low, despite having Bill Murray ready to shoot. Spheeris, who started out doing music videos in the 70s (in her words, 1912), only got her break because she broke a new path, at a time when the music companies realised that instead of sending their bands around to tour a new album, they could just “…send a film instead.” They all came up at a time when digital filmmaking was new or stupid, so just making a film at all was hard. Now it’s not like that. I’ve made films, and I’m just a screenwriter. But by the same token, Spheeris points out that instead of Sundance getting 800 submissions, they now get 8-10 000. And to stand out, Schneider says, you need to be able to make someone some money. And then handle having it without crashing and burning. Spheeris plays up her “Orange County Trailerpark” roots, wearing leopard print jeggings that probably cost more than my car (which, admittedly, isn’t saying much.) A former UCLA student, she’s also the only girl in the USC Boy’s Club. And there are a LOT of boys at this thing, mostly wearing dark jackets with jeans. If you were casting for the part of student director, they could provide their own wardrobe. No Problem.
After the event I ran into a fellow student Donte (D. Murry), a Director who was on his way to pitch a pretty cool script at the Screenwriting Expo (I know it’s cool, cause I gave him some feedback on it). He had a couple of spares for a time he couldn’t make. He offered one to me… and I said no. And watching him work the room, I lost my nerve when it came to networking too, and headed for the lifts. I always feel like an idiot at these things, like they’re going to think I want something from them, but I don’t. I wish I knew what to ask for at all! And then in the lift I ran into Penelope Spheeris, and we had some random conversation about how they always have to find one woman for these panels… so they get invited a lot. Either a woman or a black gay guy. Which isn’t really fair on herself. She’s there because she’s got more experience and is a hell of a lot funnier than anyone else there… and when I realised that, I turned around, and went back upstairs. And I spoke to people. And I went back to Donte and asked him if I could have that pitch ticket, after all.
Now my heart is banging on my ribcage like it’s going to break it. Who needs adventure theme parks if you’re living my life? But I’m thinking of it this way – and I should get a T-Shirt with this on it actually – What’s the worst that can happen? They can tell me no chance, get out! And I’m already out right now. This is how I’ve been running my life for about six months, and so far the rollercoaster’s centrifugal force is with me.
On the networking front, I’ve met more people in the film industry at The Coffee Bean (opposite the DGA on Sunset) than I did after lunch with my mouth full of turkey. So now, I’m off to get some decent food, watch me a bit of steam punk, and steel myself up for tomorrow. And read some online articles about “how to pitch”, I guess… let’s hope my days as a journalist selling stories stand me in good stead.