Tuesday, October 16, 2012

When I become showrunner

I think I finally know what I want to be when I grow up. It may have taken a quarter of a century, but I think I've figured it out. Obviously my end game is to be able to write in some capacity, and sure, lots of the glory is in features. Most aspiring writers don't dream of being television hacks, but where there is a lot of glory is that of a tv show runner. This is basically the guy that comes up with the idea for the show, sells it to the network, writes the pilot and then maintains all creative control of the series moving forward. Think of Dan Harmon at Community (before he got axed) Kurt Sutter at Sons of Anarchy, Matthew Weiner at Mad Men, Terrence Winter at Boardwalk Empire. All of these guys are major badasses.

Unfortunately in order to get into the machine you have to start at the bottom where I am now. I have no complaints about my job, I view it as a very necessary evil. I will not get food orders forever, it is a stepping stone to eventual happiness. It's very much akin to being a pledge before you are allowed to join the frat. You are kind of part of the whole scene but not really. Most people don't go out of their way to be a dickhead to you but some will, that and many of my duties are things that I learned to do as a pledge and haven't really done since, such as cleaning up after myself, and others. I'm a fairly cocky, arrogant guy. I am physically superior to almost everyone, well...I'm taller than most people. I'm loud, imposing and I have a lot of fun.

I remember when I was a pledge my general demeanor really rubbed some people the wrong way, it was like "Why aren't you more miserable? You are supposed to fucking hate this." But I didn't really because when I left the frat after cleaning up or getting barfed on, I would shower, get drunk and go have sex with a random chick. My life wasn't that bad. I feel like the hierarchy of tv is very much the same. I am a pledge. The producers are the Seniors. Everyone else on the staff is somewhere between neophyte and Junior. Most of the people are super cool and really don't give a shit what the pledges (PAs) are up to because they have a show to make. (I equate this to frat guys having girls to fuck.) Note that the cool guys in the frat never gave a shit about the pledges, they were too busy finding good houses to party with, going on epic road trips, and generally drinking beer and gunning chicks. Outside the occasional fuck up that directly influenced them (losing a key to the booze fridge) they generally didn't think twice about you at all.

This directly correlates with tv. 99% of the staff is all smiles with me until I fuck up something that either gets them in trouble with their boss or directly impacts their job, making them work longer or harder. But once in a while you encounter that guy that lives in the valley (in a shitty upstairs single) that still remembers getting picked on when he was a pledge (PA) and he doesn't like your fucking arrogance. Wipe that smile off your face underling, go get me a bottled water (beer.) He can't stand the fact that you are going to go out in Venice (Briscoe) tonight and bang some chick (bang some chick) while he wonders why he is still just an assistant editor (Sophomore with no people skills) I'm going to haze the fucking shit out of you because I'm still miserable.

Our assistant editor is the shit actually and so are 99% of the people I work with, it is just something I have picked up on in life. The losers can never let their hardships go. I had to work 14 hour days (14 hour line-ups) so you are going to. People yelled at me, so I'm going to yell at you. Meanwhile the cool guys are just social climbing until they get to work on an HBO show (this is like the equivalent of living in Shingles or super frat)

But now that I'm done with my extended metaphor, what changes would I make to the world of Production? Funny you ask, I have a few thoughts.

First of all, life in production is pretty intense, and I am not cut out for it. The natural route for someone in my position is to become production secretary, assistant production coordinator, production coordinator and then if you're lucky you're a unit production manager getting a lowly co-producer credit by the time you're 50. On my side of the office it is printing scripts, re-printing scripts on different colored paper, collecting release forms, dealing with insurance, budgeting camera rental equipment...fuck that. I need to take a hard right to the end of the hall where the creative staff hangs out. Writers meetings, nerf guns, writer's block beers, that's the shit I'm talking about. I don't even know if any of that stuff exists, but I fantasize what the week would look like if I were the show runner. I imagine there would be considerably more youth and exuberance and fewer vegan options on the lunch menu. In fact you would think that television shows that are trying so depserately for that 18-49 demo would skew young. In fact they do not. I don't know if my show has a single writer in their 20's, even the writers assistants appear to be in their 30s.

Maybe it's been tried before and it became a production nightmare. If the writers are just casually drinking all day and the tv show adopts a laissez faire attitude it must be a nightmare to get things done. But maybe that fun atmosphere on a television show transcends the television waves? Well hopefully we'll find out, because if the Glowfest show gets the greenlight and I'm a writing producer I can't imagine that I'll spend more than 5 hours and 3 four lokos on an episode outline before I say "fuck it, let's shoot it and see what happens." Television needs more of that.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

When I think about you I touch myself

If you would have told me that at age 25, I would have a tv show in development at Red Bull, work on the Fox lot and have a BYOB Chinese restaurant and a beach less than a mile from my house I would probably have been quite thrilled with that outcome.

Yes look at me kids, a true American success story, proof that you can do whatever the fuck you want in life and if you're awesome enough you will get away with it.

OK so I'm a PA on a Friday night tv show, my tv series may or may not air on the web. And there is a 15% chance of getting stabbed on my particular beach if I go there after dark. That said, there is no knock on Mao's Kitchen, it is simply the best and if you pay your non-English speaking waitress 5 dollars she will turn the other way when you try to take shots (they are licensed for beer and wine only)

So tomorrow I take the next step in my journey to the top. Full of 6 am call times, petty cash and hopefully lots of meal penalties (you get extra money if you aren't fed in the first 6 hours of your shift, heyooo) the flip side of this is the blog will suffer. As people that have been reading me for a while you can probably make a direct correlation with how often I am writing and how little I give a shit about what I'm up to professionally. Now that I am actually a real boy in the entertainment industry the days of blogging about banging fat chicks and doing bathroom key bumps might be coming to an end (not to say I'm going to stop, but I likely won't have time to actually carry on my double life AND tell you about it)

But that's good, it used to be that when I needed to find a creative outlet I would vent about everything different in the world that I didn't understand. I couldn't fathom the idea of getting married or staying in. When Indy got lame, I jumped to Chicago, when I lost all my friends in Chicago to relationships and maturity I jumped to LA, fortunately there are 40 year olds here who behave the same way that I do, so I might get to stay a while. In fact, when I think of many of the people that swept me under the rug as they settled for a life of middle management and this I realize that my constant bitching about it will never change the way other people react.

Believe it or not, mediocrity is enough for some people. Some people don't have the desire to go for it.

Whatever it is I guess. I guess dreaming big for some people is "having 4 kids." Some people want to make a lot of money. I for one, want to make something that will be here forever. Even if I write the shittiest movie ever made, or am a low level producer on a really bad reality tv show. It will exist because of me, and there will never be anything anyone can do to take it away. Even if our society reverts to that of high morals and everything that I ever wrote is deemed obscene. Somewhere on a hard drive or a web address it will always exist. That is my motivation for doing what I do.

Again, the blog will never make me famous, so I've been scaling back my activity on here and diverting it to actual screenplays, television specs and basic pitches for things that I find interesting. As much fun it is to bitch and moan and create this megalomaniac of a character on this blog and try to once and a while show you a hint of humanity and intelligence that I as a person really have, it was generally created as an exercise for me to find my voice.

And I've found it. I hope lots of you continue to follow my writing career, and I will still check in here from time to time, it's just hard to work a 60 hour week, write a 100 page screenplay and still find the time to come on here and ask what the fuck those vuvuzella things are that hang on a Jewish person's door.

To any aspiring writers or people that just thought maybe it would be fun to give a shot once, lots of people will give you advice along the way. Fuck it. Fuck all of it. Do your thing, don't read any books, just start writing and see what happens. Even if you don't achieve a desired result, you'll know that you did things your way and that's got to be better than being a fucking hack.

So that's that. Not the end of a book, but the beginning of a new chapter for me. All you peeps better set your dvr's to Fox on Friday nights this January, not to tune in would be to intentionally destroy my master plan. (Season 3 writer's PA, Season 4 Writer's assistant, Season 5 promoted to staff writer. Show gets cancelled after season 5 but I have a WGA card and an agent and at the age of 28 my coming of age indie film wins Sundance and I get to go on a date with Jennifer Lawrence.)

Didn't someone say that if you write down your goals they are ten times more likely to come true?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Short term memory loss

I haven't found the time to blog this week because I've been working the early shift at Fox. I've been waking up at 5 am every day, coming home and falling asleep. Usually I come home at 5 am and fall asleep, so this has been a bit backward for me. By the way, I had an epiphany the other day while driving. The new last call song has to be "Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles, except instead of some weird Eastern influenced metaphor about what George Harrison was going through at the time of Abbey Road, it's like, "oh fuck, the sun is rising, better take this slam home before I can see what she actually looks like."

But seriously, I haven't woken up at 5am since I think Little 5 my senior year, and that was to drink. I've been drinking these K cups called rocket fuel (which would be a great name for a street drug) they are like the double IPAs of coffee. I literally take two hits (sips) and I want to ride an elephant into battle.

I did want to take 30 seconds though today and discuss society's short term memory loss. 3 things happened in the last 48 hours that I found interesting.

1. Romney won the debate last night. I am not very political, nor is this blog, but just a week after he complained about not being Mexican and how poor people won't vote for him, every apathetic, upper middle class, candyflipping white kid is supporting him on Facebook now. (Or they are making a point to tell everyone how little they care) It just goes to show how little stock we put in things that happened yesterday. It's all about the now.

2. American hero Miguel Cabrera has a long history of getting thoroughly housed. As a fellow degenerate I completely support this behavior. However, unlike me, instead of playing house music and lowering his sexual standards a full 2 standard deviations from the mean, when Miguel gets drunk he beats women and drives around. Not to say I haven't driven sauced once or twice, but the only bruises I give women are to their inner thighs. (*Single handed snap*) But Miguel Cabrera won a triple crown for the first time since 1967. So...fuck it, he rocks!

3. The St. Louis Cardinals clinched a playoff spot. (This is in no way related to my overall thesis, it is just something that I find interesting because I am a fan)

To recap, you can be a major fuck up in this country, but if the last thing you did was positive, society has about as good a memory as I do after 5 flatlines...and that's good, because so far I've done a lot of bad, but some day I plan on turning it around. Everyone loves a comeback story.