Friday, June 21, 2013

Another Dose of Reality

So it seems I've been neglecting this blog again. Remember that 7 week gig? Well 2 weeks after that ended I hopped on another long term job.

An MTV reality show.

As a PA.

So, yeah, 5 months after I vowed I was done with Reality, I relapsed (again) I guess.

Oh well. But I had nothing else going on and it was a month and a half of work. I've got more saved up in my bank account now than I've had in the last 7 years. Can't complain.

Or can I?

It's weird. Being a PA is a comparatively easy job. I spend 90% of the day sitting in a van. But the longer the job goes on, the antsier I get. I find myself counting the hours until the end of my shift.

You know what it feels exactly like? High school a week before summer break.

"Only 3 more hours until it's only 4 more days..."

And once I start this kind of thinking on the job, that's a bad sign. It's a slippery slope of unproductiveness, poor judgement, and rookie mistakes after that. So I'm finishing out the week, then I'm done.

And even though I KNOW this is the easiest job in the world - I literally just drive crew, keep them hydrated and fed, and buy groceries - the problem is it feels like...WORK.

The horror.

The job I was on before this - the first long-term job - was a scripted series. That didn't feel like work, and there I was running around with 125lbs worth of sandbags at a time, drenched in sweat. Somehow that was a blast.

So I guess that's conclusive proof to myself that Reality TV is no good for me, and Scripted is where it's at. It's nice to be able to put my finger on the reason. Yep, it came down to good ol' creative fulfillment. And by that I mean, I need to be able to see the fruits of my labor. On the scripted set, watching a whole world come into being before the cameras, and knowing I had a part in it - even if it was something as simple as bagging a C-stand - was enough to keep me going. And that's all I need really, the knowledge that my efforts have in some way contributed to the whole. In Reality, I sit in idling minivans all day outside of whatever location we're shooting at. Not to mention the whole Reality world is a cesspool of exploitative schlock you couldn't pay me to watch.

I had an interesting discussion with the director of this reality show during lunch the other day. He started in movies, and somehow found sitting on film sets - spending hours to get a 10 second long shot right while actors repeated the same lines of dialogue over and over and over - boring, and - for him- creatively unfulfilling. In his words, the faster pace of reality TV suited him better - at first behind the camera, now behind a monitor in an air conditioned Sprinter - where he can watch real people interact and develop in real time.

He told me if I wanted to do scripted stuff that's all I should pursue - the worlds don't mix, and in LA submitting a resume to PA on a film with nothing but Reality credits will get you laughed out the door. The only thing Reality was good for was the money, to keep the cash flow, um, flowing, during the slow periods.

He didn't act like the show was something incredibly unique and special that I should feel blessed to be working on. It was Reality TV. He knew it was shit. But it floated his boat. Yet he didn't assume it did the same for me. He knew I probably had dreams and ambitions beyond this. It felt good to spoken to with such candidness.

Only 2 more days to go...

1 comment:

  1. Moving up is hard, usually requiring a sustained effort over a long period of time -- and every time you drop back down to your previous gig, it just reinforces the notion that you're really just a PA. But hey, you've got to keep money flowing in, and an environment where jobs aren't that plentiful, you do what you've gotta do to get by. Keep moving forward, keep learning, and you will make progress, however incremental it may seem in the moment.

    The problem with attempting to land a PA gig on a big feature in LA is that we don't make too many movies down here these days. The rest of the 40-something tax-subsidy states are eating our cinematic lunch while hollowing out Hollywood. Even episodic television is beginning to migrate elsewhere, and that's a very bad sign for the future.

    So if you want to work on features, you might be better off heading to New Mexico or deep into the southeast, where taxpayer-supported bribes are siphoning off so much production. I'd tell you to try New York -- which offers some of the biggest production subsidies around -- but they'd just tell you to go fuck yourself.

    Still, it's rare to experience such candid truth-telling as that Reality director offered. Consider yourself blessed.