The new year seemed off to a miraculous start. It was like the floodgates holding back all the potential jobs for the entire month of December finally opened. I had finally discovered realitystaff.com, which seems to be the go-to site for traveling reality/documentary productions looking to hire locally. So with this new jobstream opened I entered the new year with a very positive outlook.
I scored a PA gig the first week of January - another paranormal/ghost hunting show for cable TV. I was thrilled to be given the responsibility of renting the cargo van, picking up grip gear from the rental house (which was being like a kid in a candy store - and I got to meet one of our esteemed local gaffers in the process), picking up the crew from the airport, and shopping around for expendables. I worked with the crew for the first 2 days of production, everything was fine as far as I can tell...and then I got a text from the coordinator. I wouldn't be need on this day anymore. Then another text. They didn't need me the day after that. Then another text. They didn't need me at all for the rest of the shoot.
My dreams of refilling my much-depleted coffers evaporated in an instant. I ended up only working 3 days of the initial 6 days.
I know the industry is a hectic and chaotic environment where things change in an instant, and maybe they genuinely didn't need the full crew for those final days...
But I can't help but think to myself: Why me??
Did I do something to offend them? Did I wear an offensive item of clothing? Did I not smile enough? Did I not have enough pieces of flair?
Because I know I worked my ass off...
Their explanation is that they didn't need me on the remaining location day because the location only would allow so many people and they needed to bring 2 additional talent. The other two days were small interviews at people's houses and offices and such, and a full crew would be superfluous.
Still, I found these claims suspicious. And if they had to drop a PA, what made them choose me over the other 2 local hires?** It must be something about me, right?
I get it though. Here's my interpretation: These traveling productions are made up of 7-20 people who travel the country together from location to location. They become a clique. And if a local hire can't "gel" with their group after so many days, I guess they write them off and boot them out?
Maybe that was it? I couldn't click with the clique? This is all purely speculation of course.
It's true, it takes me longer than most people to become comfortable in social situations. I have a laundry list of little idiosyncrasies and habits. Sometimes I think I must read like a textbook case of Aspergers, but I don't have it. I spent most of middle and high school as the withdrawn, nerdy weirdo who sat in the back corner of all his classes, face buried in science fiction novels... The result is me, now, as a socially stunted adult, trying to make up for all those years of middle and high school I could have been sharpening my social skills.
Suffice it to say that the whole social aspect to, well, everything has just recently dawned on me...and it's like a foreign language I'm struggling to learn.
And most of the time it's forgiven...when I'm on a homegrown indie with a local crew, we get along fine. But it's these damn reality/docu gigs I keep getting that have clique-ish crews, who are from a completely different city, who are tired and tightly wound from being on the road, who are only in town for a few days, and who are, for the most part, completely under the age of 35. Not sure if the last part is relevant but the rest of it spells disaster when someone like me jumps in the mix.
I mean, I've interacted with people enough to know that I can initially come off as sort of...off. The people who get past it and accept me are my closest friends. But I guess just being just slightly ...off... can be disconcerting for someone who is from out of town, knows nothing and nobody, AND is trying to get a show produced.
But looking around the veritable sea of different positions one can hold in the Industry, I find myself wondering, surely some of these people must have been the class weirdo in their time. This industry must be chock full of social misfits. Surely there are people who are socially awkward like me, but do their jobs well enough that their coworkers can look past their lack of "people skills." Surely I can find someone to relate to...
In the meantime, I'm really sick of this reality/docu stuff. Also I'm being increasingly turned off the notion of moving down south...
* It's a reference.
** Speaking of PA's, how come the female PA's seem to be held to much lower standards? I get it, sets are total sausage fests, so we need to beef up the ranks with some womenfolk. But seriously, every time there's a lady PA she always seems to get assigned duties like calling in lunch orders and going shopping for any last minute expendables. What's the deal with that?