Sunday, December 23, 2012

Forward.

Still here.

So,  I made my mind up. I'm done.

Done with PA-ing on cable reality shows, that is.

Looking back on 2012, I worked on no less than 15 different reality shows. And I'm over it now.

I'm sick of navigating 15 pass vans through the traffic of downtown San Francisco, I'm sick of driving 30 miles to the nearest big box retailer, I'm sick of picking up quadruple soy white chocolate lattes for the talent.

My last gig of 2012 was the final straw for me. It was supposed to be three solid weeks of work, a great way to end the year (paycheck-wise), my longest duration job since spring. Thought it was going pretty well, the line producer and I geeked out over Star Wars, I rented some stingers and a light stand to the production, the host was easygoing and friendly.

Just me and one other PA were the only local hires, so when I got the text that they were going down to just one PA after the first week and chose the other guy, I was disappointed but also confused. It was logistically impossible to run that show with one PA. I shrugged it off...until I found out TWO other PAs were brought on board for the final 2 weeks.

So, there's no other way to spin it. I was the problem. I don't know what I said or did. They got mad at me once while I was on a coffee run, but I can only go as fast as traffic lights will allow.

Whatever. I'm through trying to impress these out-of-town crews. I can only do my best, and if that's not good enough...well...fuck.

Oddly enough, this happened on my first job of the year as well.

I just wish instead of the "it's not you, it's me" spiel, that they actually told me what the fuck I did wrong, so, I could, I dunno, make sure I didn't do it next time. I don't have some fragile ego or need to be let down gently. On the contrary, I need blunt, frank, explicit criticism. Otherwise I can't grow.

But that's it for me, I'm done with these corner-cutting, egotistical dickheads that reality tv production teams seem to be made up of. Had some good experiences, had some terrible experiences, but the bottom line is, it's not what I set out to do.

Sure it was work, but now it's a whole year done, and I haven't made any inroads into the bigger productions - I got in this game to land those features, those commercials, those ridiculously well-paid industrials.

So I'm done with reality.

Well, unless it's one of those sprawling, Bruckheimer-produced shows.  I'd do one of those again. Always amazing catering...

Hm, I think what I'm realizing is, the bigger the crew, the better I work. I'm better as a small cog in the giant machine. There's just too much pressure when I'm one of just two PAs - or indeed, the only PA. A small fuck-up on my part in that situation will be far more pronounced. That sounds bad though, doesn't it? Like I can't take too much responsibility. Not what I meant. It's just difficult when you're at the bottom and everybody else is your boss.

***

These reality crews fly in, get their shots, and hightail it to the next location. They're not looking to make new connections. And I can't move up if I keep surrounding myself with these types of productions.

And that's the root of the problem - it's like the old saying - surround yourself with people who are going to lift you higher, surround yourself with people you can learn from - or the inverse - quoted from a local Steadicam op. - "keep surrounding yourself with schlubs, and best case scenario is you'll be the best schlub."

(But it's a tricky distinction to be made - I have friends in production who don't share my level of ambition - or are happy where they are - and are they the so-called schlubs I shouldn't surround myself with? Hell no. I tried explaining these thoughts to a PA colleague and quickly realized how much of an entitled prick it made me sound like if I didn't word it carefully)

Basically, my goal is to work on major shoots. With legit street blockages, and not covert guerilla-style shooting from illegally parked minivans. I want to spend an entire day helping get a 1.2 second shot just right, and not a full day helping get B-roll at 10 different locations. When I watch the behind-the-scenes videos of those big blockbusters, with 40 trucks and trailers, miles of cable, armies of extras, meticulously crafted and painted sets - I just flip out over it, how fucking cool would it be just to work on that for even just a day? It's creatively fulfilling, ya dig? 30 years from now I don't want to my "war stories" to be about particularly arduous coffee runs.

***

As much as I want to move up, I plan on giving back - I love filmmaking, period. If I have a free weekend, I'll even come and help out pro bono on a student thesis film or indie short - cause it's fun. And there's nothing else I'd rather be doing. Just gotta offset the freebies with a few paid gigs the rest of the time.