Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Unconventional Reel Life

Whoever thinks that the movie and television world is all about the glitz and the glam has never done work as a gaffer or a grip; has never known the troubles of make-up artistry or wardrobe supervisors; and has never known the feeling of cold days or humid afternoons on one’s feet for 12-18 hours at a time—followed by sleepless night and more cold and humid days. No, the world of film and TV is not always glamorous. It takes lots of work for low pay and lots of patience…That being said…in the end, when an episode of a show or a feature film, documentary, short, or indie is all done…it is safe to say it was all completely worth it. And that may be the only reason that I can explain my currently continued reel life as a commuting production assistant for the television series Forensic Files.

Most people do what makes sense, but I have always been a fan of the unconventional: play a sport for thirteen years—and go to college for the one that was played for seven; pick a college—but barely spend any time at that college; go to the bar, and never order a drink. See? Unconventional. So when I put money down on an apartment in Queens, New York, it was clear that the next few months of my life would be anything like the life of a normal college graduate living in the greatest city on this side of the Atlantic. You see, most people get a house or an apartment and commute into the city…well, I get an apartment and two days later choose a job where I will have to commute out of the city (Hey, it works out okay for one of my college professors). Shake your head in disbelief—but then hear me out.

Two months ago, I applied for an associate producer job with Forensic Files. After going through the interview process and a writing test, I wasn’t selected for the job. That’s when I decided to roll the dice, find a new apartment for the summer in Astoria—a part of Queens—and test my luck on finding an opportunity in the city. I thought, ‘Hey—there’s millions of opportunities here, why not?’

In the meantime, since I needed a job, and I was becoming a bit desperate, I took a job offer for August in which I will tour field hockey teams around Bermuda. There, they will play hockey, visit the sites, and have team bonding.

I didn’t give up after committing to this. I had several more interviews in New York, but my commitment in August really hindered many of these opportunities. Now you may shake your head in disbelief again, but you have to understand that when I make a commitment, I follow through with that commitment no matter what. The only time that I have broken a commitment in the last six months for a job, is when I learned of a family friend passing away moments before an event I was supposed to work began (If interested I wrote about that earlier in this blog). Commitment is one of my greatest values.

So while you ask yourselves, still, how I could pass up career opportunities, I encourage you to list more: In less than a week, I will be 22, and I have tentatively 75% of my life left, and I have the opportunity to travel outside the immediate U.S. for an entire month…That is a LIFE opportunity, and that, to me, is completely worth it. Ask yourself what you would choose—and if you think I am crazy—well then so be it, but at least I am committed.

So going back to things that are “worth it,” let’s dive into my backwards commute. Two days after I handed a check to my new roommates, I received an offer to be a production assistant for Forensic Files. It was not the AP job—in fact it was an offer to do things completely different from the AP job. As an AP I would have been researching crimes that took interesting forensics to solve, putting that into a pitch format and then passing it on to the next producers in line to approve before it was written by the next guy in line. As a PA, I would be running for wardrobe, putting together sets, helping out with props, and assisting on shoots—the gritty, unglamourous, far from glitz life. The PA job, may not be the writing and research that I had looked forward to, but it offers me flexibility for my August commitment and gives me an unconditional amount of experience in the career field that I hope to keep pursing. Does this make sense?

Maybe—Maybe not. But for me it does, and while it isn’t glitz and glam of Hollywood, it’s an experience that everyone who wants to purse a career in television or film should try to have, because it really puts you in the spotlight of how things are truly done.

After two weeks of long days on my feet, running around, and a backwards commute, I can say the unconventional reel life, at least for me, is starting to feel a bit conventional.


  1. A philosophy of life I entirely support! (the sailor, no doubt).

    I am curious, how long is your commute? Do you do it every day during the week? You drive, right?

    A blog convention: when you reference a previous post, instead of saying: "if you're interested, please dig through my archives and try to find it" - instead, when you're writing the post, highlight the relevant text, (such as, "I learned of a family friend passing away moments before an event I was supposed to work began"), and link it directly to that post. (Use the link button).

    I think you might find the posts you reference, are probably some of your strongest, just because they are about things you continue to think about. (certainly the case with this specific post).

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  3. I think that your commitment to commitment is an amazing character trait and although it might have held you back ever so slightly in this specific instance, it is a tool in your arsenal that will propel you to success in you career and your future.

    Good Luck!


  4. Quite the story! Love that you're taking a "risk" and going for it. I agree that having the opportunity to travel for a month is a great one, and cheers to you for not passing it up. There's plenty of time to figure things out!

    - AJ