Monday, July 27, 2015

Maybe I Need to Cut My Bangs?

In my twenty-five-ish years of working in Hollywood (mostly behind the scenes, but occasionally blissfully in front of my multi-camera Sit-Coms), I consider myself TRULY blessed that I can count on one hand the amount of people in The Industry with whom I’ve personally clashed.  (Seriously, I’m a delight, and I’m brilliant at my job!)
Yes, egos are to be anticipated in my business from various Actors, Actresses and Directors; but with gentle hands and kind comments, a vast group of them are actually rather manageable. (I often envision a herd of fragile lambs/goats that just need to be carefully wrangled by a friendly sheepdog.)  But seriously, sometimes a simple “you look so gorgeous!” comment will get one of the Cast members out of their mental space and back into the show.
I’ve also found that occasionally offering “do you need to run lines?” is an excellent kicker that either makes them slightly annoyed/motivated as Professionals who insist that they artfully know their craft, and/or are extraordinarily grateful for the personal attention depending upon their individual psychopathy.  (I told you, I’m brilliant at my job.)

Of course, sure, you’re going to get your fair share of the occasional Divas who demand that no one looks Her Majesty in the eye (I won’t type her name here, but I “worked with” one lady who put me through a special kind of Hell back in the nineties), or the Nazi-esque Director who makes it his douche-bag macho priority to try to make every single crew member weep and feel incompetent...  (There’s literally one Director in Tinsel Town whom I’ve “worked with”, and to this day, upon simply hearing his name, I immediately develop a Pavlovian rash on my arm.  No joke.  And yes, he berated me and a MALE friend on-camera and made us BOTH cry...)   
Yet as I’m actively searching for a fall TV show, I’m grateful for any leads to assist me in acquiring a new job, and I find myself daily busy at following up on any info.

But learning that one of the other five people that I seriously clashed with has a multi-cam show coming up, I needed to take some personal inventory...
Yes, obviously I need to work again, if only to keep my health insurance and continue to accrue my future pension...  And yes, we “mostly” parted on “civil” terms, but I still think he’s contemptuous, ridiculously tyrannical and completely incompetent; a control freak who believes in the “straight eight” hours of work with no overtime, whether or not we were needed.  (Can somebody loan me a sheepdog?  Or maybe a Pit Bull Viper?)

Perhaps I’m speaking out of turn in my lowly position as a Stand-In, but does it take an Einstein to rationalize that you ought to allow your veteran Crew bathroom breaks (at least ONCE), during six hours of camera-blocking before lunch?  Hello?  Our Cameramen were all in their sixties!  Could he not possibly schedule five minutes for their bladders?  Do you really want to “piss off” a Prostate Militia?
Additionally, I found out later (after he had been let go quietly and I received a hand-written “Thank You” check from my Actress), that this man illegally screwed me out of money for legitimate work performed.  Granted, it was only around $125.00, but still, really???  It’s not like I could afford an Attorney to recoup my losses, but hey, that still would’ve paid a few bills!  (Welcome to the dark underbelly of Hollywood.)

Regardless, hearing that this idiotic tool has a show, I contemplated sending an email to let him know that I’m available...  But the more I thought about it all, the less my desire to make contact.  I saved his @ss every single day running interference between him and our extremely high-maintenance lead Actress (which made him seem brilliant at handling her to the Producers), but you know what?  He doesn’t deserve my unique talents!  Maybe it’s the menopause, but I sweat enough for one person – I’m too old now, to sweat it for two!

Learning that my favorite UPM is producing a show later this fall (it’s generally not acceptable for someone in my position to contact a UPM – Stand-Ins are kind of like vampires:  we have to be invited in), I contemplated sending that email too. 
But as he and I sort of ‘grew up’ in the business together, of course I could reach out to him.  Unfortunately, with info from a separate insider, the show will be shot single camera – a format with which I’m painfully unfamiliar.  (Sooo, after twenty-five years, I’d be the rookie?  Old dog, new tricks?  I guess anything is possible!)

Meanwhile, keeping my sheepdog eyes open to everything in the realm of the possible and dealing with some computer snafus, I contacted the Geek Squad, who sits ever at the ready to assist me as my online Tech Support.

But notified that my plan is about to expire in a few days, I logged on to chat with an Agent as to billing questions, updates and all manner of hoopla that I really don’t understand.  What’s “Webroot?  Why can’t I just renew Tech Support?  If I already have Norton Anti-Virus, why do I need your security plan?”  (Geez, how many condoms does the World Wide Web need to put on its ‘laptop dance’ for a computer that I don’t even use every day?)  And almost as if to prove me right in my sheepdog awareness, I found myself linked to the dumbest Geek Squad member whatever lived...
“I can’t help you with your billing questions, but feel free to call this toll-free number listed below, 24/7.”

Umm, hello?   
Yeah, there’s no “hello” unless you’re phoning the great state of Kentucky between 8am and 7:30pm CST.

Meanwhile, I’m still choosing to remain optimistic for a fall show!

Granted, my faith in The Universe (and the human race) has been a bit shaky of late, but receiving an extremely apologetic email the next day from “Agent Philip F, Covert Quality Assurance Agent/Geek Squad Covert Operations Online Support/ PC In-Home Support”, (does all of that title even fit on his business card?) who explained everything to my satisfaction in simple terms, I’ve agreed to renew my membership with them.  Technically (HA!), I can’t afford it, but since too much of my work info is haphazardly strewn about the Internet, I can’t afford NOT to keep Tech Support on the poot.
And just like that, credit card in hand, I found myself as the fragile lamb/goat (it's all ovine to me) that needed to be herded by a friendly sheepdog.  (I didn’t see that coming!)

Additionally, as I took a much needed walk in my neighborhood to soak up some sunshine after a few nights of actual thunder storms (Yikes! The weather blew out my landline for a couple of hours!), I stopped at my local 7/Eleven for a container of heart-healthy mixed fruit and a big ole’ honkin’ fudge brownie.   (Some days, even when you’re unemployed, you can scrounge up the money for, and really just REQUIRE, a big ole’ honkin’ fudge brownie!)
But best of all for the day, collecting my snail mail as I came home, I noticed an envelope from the SAG/AFTRA Department of Residuals...

Yes, kind readers, by someone’s internet rental, I received my very first residual check for smashing my teen idol’s dreamboat face on-camera with a chocolate cream pie!!! 
Hold your breath...

Twelve dollars and ONE RED CENT!  (Well..., before taxes.)
Living the dream!



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Michael Taylor said...

Hope you get a gig soon, Red. Single camera is no fun, though -- 12 hour + days for the crew, and stand-ins too, I imagine. Then again, overtime… Oh it's a cruel world we live in, full of hard choices...

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I imagine. Then again, overtime… Oh it's a cruel world we live in, full of hard choices..

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