Here there be monsters (socratic) wrote,
Here there be monsters

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And I'm back

Well my first "day" at work is done. How was it? Interesting. To say that the guy I'm working for is an asshole would be...totally inaccurate. He was really nice and extremely helpful. I got there early, hung around outside the office reading for a bit because I know that he set aside specific time in his schedule to help orient me and I didn't want to interrupt the stuff he had to do before then, and popped in about 5 minutes before we'd agreed on. Coming slightly early is generally the optimal way to arrive for work, because it gives the impression of excellent punctuality without making you seem overeager or impositional. He spent about half an hour running down some of the things he wants me to do, it's a decent mix of the shit work one expects at the bottom and some more interesting/exciting stuff like helping him retrieve trimmed film bits from the editor and delivering finished prints to various film festivals. He did not give me $20 million and ask me to produce a masterful celluloid meditation on the nature of life and youth and love, but that's understandable the first day. I'll give him a couple of weeks.

It seems like he's either not used to having an assistant or he's had crappy ones in the past from the excessively kind treatment he offered when I arrived. For example, he's giving me my own office (at least temporarily) but there were paper scraps and little flecks of dust on the ground. He said to give him 10 minutes to sweep it up and I gently pointed out that sweeping up is generally the sort of thing an assistant does. Likewise when he wanted to have keys made for me (which was nice since I'm really temping at this point) he was going to go to the hardware store himself. Now I don't know, maybe these are things he actually enjoys doing, but when I offered to do them myself he seemed to think that eminently reasonable. I think he was actually pleased when I grabbed the broom and said I'd sweep up myself. His IMDB bio says that he started out sweeping up crumbs for commercial shoots (something I keep reminding myself to make sure that I don't forget that he's PAID his dues already) and perhaps there's some sort of poetic justice in his new assistant starting out by doing some sweeping. During the course of the day I also did faxing, filing, a bit of proofing on some mailing labels, looking up information on the Internet on how to dispose of some old paint cans and a few other things, and started a project trying to follow up on a few pieces of litigation he's involved in (nothing too major or shady, just suing a subcontractor who didn't do satisfactory work and haggling with the phone company over a mistake they made involving his Las Angeles office). None of the work was particularly intellectually challenging but the variety of it meant that I never got bored in the 3.5 hours I was there (approximately a half day for a 9-5 job with a 1 hour lunch break.)

I was tired from staying up all night fretting up today so I was a little out of it today. It took me longer than it should have to look up a check on Quickbooks, and the chemistry wasn't quite there between us because I wasn't clever or quite as attentive as I might have been (Chemistry is important in a business relationship like this, especially since I'm competing with a lot of beautiful women for this kind of position. Many people can fetch stuff from hardware stores and be put on hold by an Indian woman until her computer system crashes, to stand out you have to be good at those things AND a pleasant person to be around. I don't have big breasts to lean over and show (well I do, but I don't think they'd be particularly enticing) so providing a few much-needed laughs over the course of the day seems to be my best bet.) There were a few minor issues. He's something of a neatness freak (which is totally fine by me in a professional environment) and didn't like how I put a label on a folder. Fortunately he's the kind of boss who doesn't bitch you out when you make a minor mistake, nor does he ignore it and grow resentful. He tells you what he wants done clearly and moves on. No apologies no grudges. That's how bosses should be. I also failed to put someone on hold when he was in the room, thinking I could just cover the receiver with my hand and inform him of who it was. He didn't want it done that way. That makes sense, the office I worked at last was a bit less formal and we did that all the time but he wants the person actually put on hold until he decides whether to take the call. Totally reasonable. I'll be answering the phone whenever I'm there, probably because it's a bit of a status thing not to answer your own phone and in this business that kind of thing actually matters. So two mistakes, and not exactly major ones. I will try not to loathe myself over those things all night. Perhaps more serious was the fact that I'm a stander. What I mean by that is that I don't love to sit. Oh I do it, and for hours at a time, of course, but when given the chance I tend to stand up and stretch my legs. I'm a high energy person, getting higher energy as I drop weight, and sitting down can drive me crazy. Then there's the fact that the chair he gave me is not built to support my bulk. I didn't want to point this out since it's a bit of a tricky issue, but I will in a couple of days. I'm sure he doesn't realize how much I weigh, most people estimate about 40-70 lbs lower than what it actually is because I'm built big anyway and the way my clothes hang on my frame it is fairly well disguised. The problem is, I'm a big guy and when I stand I tend to loom. This made him a bit uncomfortable, which is once again quite reasonable. Nobody likes a 6'1" (I think I may be taller than I thought judging from recent comparisons to others and the fact that I haven't measured in like 5 years) guy built something like a linebacker (Or even an O-lineman according to some) looming over them. I sat in the chair the best I could, shifting my weight on to my feet and via my arms on to the desk, which protects the chair but strains my muscles. When I was alone in the office I was standing while I worked, which may have indicated to him that it's just something I do and not meant to be threatening or disrespectful, since he seemed more comfortable with it later on.

As for my assessment of the job, I was right, it's in between the poles. It doesn't look like there'll be many opportunities for creative input in the near future, he's shopping a project around not producing one at present, which is a shame. If something crops up I'll try to show what I can do but I can't exactly just walk in and say "I'm a really smart guy, you should let me write something for you." I would work on punching up some of the promotional materials but until I've seen the film I can't do so and be sure of accuracy. On the business side there's a good deal to learn. Already I've been looking through receipts and accounting, getting an idea of the costs of various things for a film production company. That will be very useful if I decide to self-produce. He showed me a binder with detailed notes on the changes that were made on set to the dialogue and action on each day of the film, I'd really love to get a chance to look through that. I'm seeing some of the festival submission forms and he's talked some about the technical aspects of getting a film printed up. He seems like a guy who's genuinely interested in doing at least a bit of teaching and looking to gage whether I'm there to work AND learn or just to pick up a paycheck. That's good. He'll soon find out, but I don't want to press the issue. If all he wants to do is hand me paperwork to do then I can learn plenty there too. It's all about taking advantage of the opportunities available to me. On day one I learned that when you shoot on multiple film-stocks sometimes the editor can't splice them together into a single negative and he has to process both of them to produce a single print, raising costs. He can create a duplicate negative from them on one stock, but it degrades the quality. This is worth it, though, because then prints are cheaper to produce, which is important when you're not a big budget operation. I wouldn't know that if I'd taken a job doing data entry for a law firm.

Over all I'm quite satisfied. Sure I would have liked to have worked more and of course I would love a chance to show my creative abilities, but this was one day and I earned a few bucks and learned a few things. What more can I expect from my first position? It was also great just to get out of the house and have somewhere to go. The building is located at the intersection of Chinatown and Little Italy, which is a really interesting neighborhood. Just being out there will undoubtably provide some great stimulation for my mind and my artistic endeavors. Solid stuff. Tomorrow I go in around 10:30 and get to wrestle with the Indian woman and the faulty computer once more. Wheee. I will definitely get some sleep tonight. On the way home he had me drop off a print of the film at a festival office on 29th and on my way home I passed Madison Square Garden and saw a lot of people with Bull shit and other neat T-shirts walking by the Republican convention.


There, I think that's a decently detailed description of 3.5 hours of work. Any questions?

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