Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What's in the store?

I attended the assistant directors' caucus meeting at Guild headquarters last week and had beers with the top ADs working in the city right now. A former mentor of mine said a few of them expressed interest in working with me, nudging me to touch base (which I did). In fact, David Cronenberg's go-to AD since his Videodrome days even offered to edit any screenplays I plan on writing. One of the clearest things I came away with from that get-together was the disparity of their backgrounds. The aforementioned AD had been an electrician of some sort, employed at a factory. Another got his psychology degree and divides his time as a mystic guru (think: leather pants, flowing beard, and tie-dyed tee). My former mentor was manager in the restaurant business for over a decade. And the trainee who worked with me on Being Erica has an interest in oil painting on the side.

While a handful of them expressed frustration with the business, it was clear that they all shared a passion for filmmaking. They even gave advice to the junior members on how to cope during the down season.

So apparently, 2011 is supposed to be a good year for Toronto's film and television industry: Six major features and an increase in hour-long TV series. We were told by the staff that as long as the dollar is on par or lower than its American counterpart and new mayor Rob Ford treats the Guild like a business, we're golden.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Second Round of Interviews

"So the producer's assistant position was filled," the woman on the line called to say, "but we'd like to have you back to meet the director and the executive producer."

I was expecting this after last week's interview with the ABC producer when his parting words rang loud and clear: "This meeting was definitely fruitful. Now I know who to bring back if I don't end up picking you."

Why, thank you?

No sooner had I hung up, someone else calls to offer me work on a movie set on the same day.

I spoke to a former classmate of mine at the Directors Guild while I was waiting to hear back from the production coordinator about allowing me to leave for the job interview mid-day. (It was approved.) Peter said if I had to choose between the two things, I'd have to decide what I wanted to do in the industry first.

Something "above the line," I replied, knowing that much. Ideally, I'd have a hand in facilitating communication between the studio bosses and the crew. This way, I'd be paid well, still be close to the action, and achieve a semblance of stability in a notoriously fickle field.

Above all, I'd be able to support Paul as he labours away as a budding cinematographer. He knows so much about his craft that I would hate to see him have to compromise his passion to make a life with me.

Okay, enough with the sentimentalism. I'm going to edit Peter's film script (which he plans to shoot some time around Christmas) and print out more business cards. 'Tis the life of a runt!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

What I'd pay for a life plan

I met with an ABC network producer today for a job interview. In addition to himself, he was also scouting assistants for the executive producer, director, and a former A-list, now B-list, television star back with a new leading role.

We talked for nearly 2-hours, but the likelihood of a callback appears slim considering he had met with five other candidates only yesterday and told me there was more to come. It requires no explanation: the competition is, uh, sorta, kinda, stiff. (Also, if I were to get the job, I'll have to sign a confidentiality agreement, which means no blog entries divulging anyone's diva demands.)

There might be another TAD gig in my future though. An assistant director with whom I worked on two projects flew back from Germany looking to crew up a show and asked for my availabilities. I am (*drumroll*) free indefinitely! Pick me, pick me, pick me!

Not that I'm desperate or anything. I applied for E.I. last week to prevent that stuff from oozing out of my every pore. (Fooled you! I'm aware I sound pretty desperate.) But you know what I resent? That I continue to apply for writing/editing gigs whenever the film industry experiences a slowdown even though writing for other people sucks balls. What's more aggravating is that there's still a part of me that thinks writing is a realistic back-up plan. I mean, it's comparable to trading in a car with no wheels for one with no windshield. Hmm, decisions, decisions ...

The cycle of regular unemployment does get tiresome sometimes. Other times, it's a friggin' relief: Forget decades, I can't imagine doing the same work with the same people year after year. I spoke to my career counsellor the other day about my ambivalence and she said to embrace these cycles for what they are: An acceptance of an unorthodox lifestyle. She said rather than get anxious about not knowing where my next paycheque will be coming from, I should have confidence that it will come due to the nature of the business combined with my "unique" chutzpah.

That means I need to get a pair of Lindsay Lohan's knee-pad leggings, right?

*Note: Can you believe I've only been in this industry since last year and I've made more head room than I ever had in journalism, which I'd been doing since I was 17 and was the main focus of my university education? That's some crazy Harrison-Ford-was-a-carpenter-type shit.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Me worry?

Paul and I were at a Hallowe'en party this weekend hosted by a pair of newlywed eccentrics who announced they would conclude the night with a screening of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), which was cue for us to leave. As we were layering coats and scarves, a friend of his tip-toed her way over to wave us off at the door. She was tipsily reciting niceties when she was reminded of another party she had attended with him where the guests were memorably mean.

"One of them had a crush on him," she said. "Paul's coworkers from ..." she trailed off.

The name she mentioned was not foreign to me as I'd met the woman on quite a few occasions. I remember distinctly enjoying her company and sharing a lot of laughs. In the past, I've shared my thoughts about Paul's numerous female friends and I've taken part in surveys defending cross-gender friendships. And to be perfectly honest, Paul's a wonderful boyfriend, so it would be absurd if I'd been proven to be the only one to have ever spotted his potential as an awesome mate.

Here's what bothers me though: some of these women act like he's a surrogate boyfriend.

For instance: Paul welcomed his friend H from Saskatchewan at the airport and drove her, her luggage, her colleague, and her colleague's daughter to wherever they needed to go. The next time we saw H, she had decided to move to Toronto for school and expected Paul to pick her up from the airport, show her city attractions, and do errands with her without really considering whether Paul had other responsibilities to which to tend or the funds to accompany her.

Another one, M, required Paul's assistance to book train tickets (which I ended up doing) and failed to make any living arrangements in Toronto, assuming Paul would have a place for her to stay. Due to her poor planning upon a second return, she ended up wandering the streets for six hours before knocking on his door at 7 a.m. for a place to sleep.

Then there are the women who are just a smidge too affectionate in their written communications, voicing how they "love" him, "miss" him, and "can't wait to see him" again. These are, albeit, strictly platonic friends, but I'm getting a little weary.

In my defense, not once have I ever harboured any jealousy; Paul is utterly devoted and smitten (and vice versa). It's the collective neediness that annoys me (as some of these women already have boyfriends and others came out of the woodwork).

Granted, Paul is the sensitive sort who also says what's on his mind so clearly, that's a great combo. But c'mon! Text messages at all hours of the night asking for help about this and his opinion about that? I mean, yeesh! We're trying to sleep here! He now habitually puts his phone on airplane mode to prevent the dings! from waking us.

What's perplexing is that we receive plenty of comments, some from these very same women, describing us as being well-matched, compatible, and effortlessly happy together. Funny thing is, Paul, in turn, suggests to them that if they have any romantic enquiries, they should talk to me as I have casually counselled countless women on the matter.

Maybe Paul is more like a surrogate brother to them? I know I've morphed into a little kid when I've visited my older cousin in the past. But mid-twenties? That's a little much.

Sisterly Failings

My parents purchased a townhouse a few months ago for me and my younger sister so she can be close to the university campus and I can be close to town.

Now mind you, when I first moved away from home, I had to learn to take care of my apartment as well. Dishes were, admittedly, forgotten in the sink for days and the contents of my closet would be carelessly strewn across the floor.

My sister, though, is on a whole 'nother level of "Hygiene? What's that?" Her slob tendencies were apparent long before I found a melted popsicle wobbling in its package on her desk. From junior high onward, her crap would wiggle its way to every nook, corner, and buttcrack. The living room couch was her makeshift bed when her belongings overflowed into adjacent bedrooms. It took her an excruciating amount of time to get ready for school because she'd put something on, check the mirror, then decide to change. But instead of putting away her initial outfit, she'd just undo her pants and shirts and release them like bird droppings. I'd frequently see her stuff hanging off the banister, on the kitchen table, and on top of the toilet.

Markers, books, painting supplies, baking supplies, curling iron, laptop, shoes: nothing was sacred. Akin to Midas's cursed hand, everything she touched turned to dirt.

Generally, I'm with Paul for four days and return home for the other three. Last week, my sister promised she'd sweep the first-level floor and, silly me, I believed her. I came home and the kitchen, not very big to begin with, was covered in a layer of flour. She was making pizza (or something vaguely resembling one) and I flipped out.

Her half-hearted attempt at cleaning was completely overshadowed by the mess she created afterward. It's like she thinks onion skins help tiles keep their sparkle and dried fruit juice is beneficial to wood. Then I find dirty plates on the sofa cushion:

"What the hell is this?! I told you not to eat on the couch!"

"When did you say that?"

"There's a goddamned table less than a foot away, why couldn't you eat there? Now there's sauce on the cover!"

"So I'll wash it!"

I looked at her skeptically.

"When have you washed anything?" I shot back.

It went on like this, back and forth, until I grabbed my cell phone and dialled home. Or at least tried to, because in my rage, I had completely forgotten the number and yelled into the receiver at complete strangers who hung up on me repeatedly. I eventually had to call Paul to get me the right number to give my mother an earful.

She told me she was old and probably ill and to stop bothering her with trivial matters.

And that's the real crux of the story, isn't it? It's about my embarrassing habit of reverting to a child in my sister's presence. Our sibling rivalry is so deeply entrenched in my psyche that I not only lose control of my emotions, but my ability to reason and treat another with respect. My mom says whatever mistakes she made in raising us, she did the best she could and I should try to let it go. But it's difficult and, frankly, I retain my resentment to punish her belatedly and protect myself from past hurts.

Paul thinks I need to see a psychiatrist about this (his dad happens to be one) because he hears me talking to my sister like she's sub-human. Once, after one of our legendary confrontations, he listened as I called her "revolting," "disgusting," and "stupid". Worse still is that I nearly meant it.

Believe me, I know my behaviour is barbaric and infantile. And yet, and yet, and yet ...

I wonder if perhaps my ability to endear myself to other people's parents is a reaction to avoiding my own? These surrogates, whether out of propriety or genuine affection, seem to have more faith in me. And while they have no vested interest in my well-being, the deception inoculates against the strain (pain?).

I do tell myself that time will heal all as long as I distance myself from my family, but as weeks turn into months, it becomes easier to escape their existence and, in turn, forget that there are problems at all.

I am, however, taking steps to relax and take more precautions in regards to disciplining my toxic tongue. I had a premonition that revealed to me a likely scenario if I continued on this way: a wedding attended by only half the guests, the other half kept out by the internal murmurs of the bride's pride and ignorance.

I don't want to be that person anymore. And yet,

and yet,

and yet.