Thursday, July 27, 2006

The P.A. BBQ Incident

“You are a total fucking cunt.”

I don’t use that word often. Cunt, that is. I have mastered the use of fuck and it’s forms.. It isn’t that I find cunt to be offensive, it’s that I figure it’s one of the ‘nasty’ words in our language that still has some power – mostly because there are a significant number of people who DO find it offensive. Using it only on occasion reserves it’s power.

Friday was blisteringly hot. Our office gets sun for about 85% of the day, and is really hard to get a draft through. By evening on hot days it gets pretty unbearable. Friday evening I had a pair of friends who were hosting a barbecue.

It’s approaching the level of mantra right now that I have no social-life. That isn’t entirely true. I do get to points where I simply can’t work any longer – all work and no play. Most days see at least 18 hours of work. There are also occasional things that would be more damaging to not do than to do – in those cases I usually just make a token appearance. But I rarely commit to anything these days. This BBQ was one of those things. But as the afternoon wore on, the office got stupidly hot and sapped my will to keep working, so I ran to the store and bought some salmon and veggies and wrapped it all up in foil and headed for the barbecue for a few hours until the office cooled and I was socially refreshed.

For the most part it was a good time. Except for the incident. But before the incident and after it, all was well.

So, I’m hanging out, having the first segment of ‘good time’ when across the yard I meet eyes with a woman I once worked on a show with. The show itself had been an artistic success, but a bit of a soul-crushing sap upon me at the time. It seriously damaged a friendship that has yet to truly repair; and it was about as much fun as a crocodile blow-job to have to share the stage with the guy who my ex-fiancee was fucking. (At least our characters were supposed to hate each other, so that part was easy.)

Back to this woman - - she was one of the people involved with the show who I really enjoyed working with… although we didn’t really work that much together. I thought she was cool. Feel free to add sarcastic emphasis to ‘thought.’ “Thought…

The last time I saw her was a few months back at a screening which included my first short film “Godot.” (I am going to go on record as saying that “Godot” is not for everyone. Although the it has been picked up for use in the curriculum of the Atheism program at Cornell University in New York, so it has some appeal – even if primarily philosophical. (As a parenthetical to my parenthetical I should add that I haven’t got a clue how this particular film is relevant to a degree in Atheism.))

Across the yard she says “So, what are you working on these days, Kennedy?”

There is of course only one answer to this question these days. In fact just about any small talk question leads to the same topic – it’s that ubiquitous for me these days.

“What are you doing these days?” = “Working on a movie.”
“How are you doing?” = “Good, but I do practically nothing but work on my movie.”
“What’s new?” = “My movie.”
“How’s that movie going?” = “Great. I’m working on a movie… oh, you know that.”
“How’s your love life?” = “I love my movie. No one else. It’s very intimate and she understands me better than any person ever has.”
“Have you seen [Insert blockbuster]?” = “No. I only have eyes for my movie.”
“What do you say to dinner?” = “Can you drop it off at the office? I’m up to my armpits in this movie.”
“Want to do something tonight?” = “Sure. I think it will be fun if you come over to the office and help do a location schedule for my movie.”
“Feel like some NSA hip-smacking?” = “So long as I can do script revisions on my movie while you do the work.”

You get the idea.

So, we chat about what’s going on with the movie for a bit.

What it’s about, where we’re shooting, who is directing. How ambitious the project is for an indie, but that we’ve been lucky with the talent support and the outrageous media coverage – blah dee blah.

Although it’s not immediately perceptible, things start to go bad from the moment she announces “I’m working at Anagram.”

“Hey, that’s cool.”
“I’m an office P.A.”

I meant it. I really did.

A brief disclaimer: Office P.A.s of the world, if you continue reading you are going to read a number of apparently belittling comments about your job. Do not take this personally – unless you are the woman of whom I am speaking. (If by any chance you are the woman I am speaking of, you know who you are – or at least you damned well should by the end of this. Heck if you haven’t figured it out by now, you’re a total mental midget… which, to your credit, I am fairly confident you are not. Cunt, yes. Mental midget, no.) Office P.A.s in general are important people. Our company has no Office P.A.s – we’re too small to have Office P.A.s in pre-production. But damn do I wish we did. We’d be SO much more productive if we had even one Office P.A. I love Office P.A.s. I don’t love THIS Office P.A.

We talk about how Anagram’s latest film, Fido just got named as the opening film for the TIFF. I think that this is awesome. Fido was filmed in Kelowna. We are shooting in Kelowna. The TIFF will wrap up just as we start shooting. It doesn’t actually amount to much, but it’s kind of cool. She talks about how she’s spent the entire week trying to book additional hotel rooms in Toronto for the festival, but that the whole city is booked. This is a pretty good example of the expectations of Office P.A.s it’s a crappy fucking job… though I expect it beats Assistant Crack-whore. Having done neither job I can’t really speak directly to either.

Conversation drifts back around to the film –
She asks how we’re funded. I tell her that it’s entirely private investment, and that we’ve been really fortunate to have so much donated to us in gift in kind. I talk about the post-audio donation – though I neglect to mention that it’s not like “Joe is doing it in his basement” and that technicians at one of the biggest sound production houses in the city have donated their time… Geminii Winning sound technicians. I willfully avoid boasting about that. (Not now. Then) I comment on how choosing to make a film about a small town and it’s local legends and actually shooting said film in said town has proven to be an accidental masterstroke; how the City (not town, actually) of Kelowna has been SO supportive. I mention that our picture boat has been donated…

“Why do first-timers always think they can do tough stuff like shoot on a boat?”
“……………Excuse me?”
“Why would you do something like that? It’s just stupid.”
“Okay… Umm… You know, we’re not exactly ‘first-timers.’ We’ve got an experienced and well recommended Producer who believes in the project, our DP is a total pro. We’ve all been on sets before, large and small. We are well aware that shooting on a boat is an issue in it’s own right. Yeah, Spielberg took 155 days to shoot Jaws. We don’t have a mechanical shark – or Ogopogo for that matter. Our boat is also our camera platform for all but establishing shots, so we’re not as worried about drift of the boat(s) when we set up the shots. And, frankly, we’re not making a blockbuster, we’ll live with a bit of dis-continuity in the placement of the sun if we have to. As for the inevitable audio issues of shooting on a boat that is motoring… our post-team knows that we’re going to be ADRing those scenes. We KNOW that it’s an issue. We’ve already done a LOT of work towards thinking ahead of those issues. We wouldn’t be making a film of this ilk if we didn’t feel confident of out ability to make it.”
“You haven’t made it yet.”

At this point the conversation had to end. Simple as that. I could not have this conversation any longer. And to be honest I hadn’t even really realized yet that I was pissed off. But I’ll come back to this after the next two parts of the incident.

Now, to be honest I had no idea that she had any experience in film. I definitely know that she has no experience in diplomacy. But I continued to give her the benefit of the doubt. I like to believe the best of people. It can be a fault in it’s own right though.

The day before the incident our 1st A.D., Manjit, had to step down due to financial necessity. Unfortunate, but that’s the way it goes and to be honest we expected that we’d lose someone to that reason before we were done. The search for a replacement had already begun. Next time I was at the condiment table, who happens along…? You guessed it, Miss Nay-Sayer. I figured I’d loft one at her – networking never hurts, even when you have your doubts about someone, you never know who is going to someday rise to heights you never imagined they could. (In our auditions this week I had that lesson grandly demonstrated to me – but that’ll be another entry.)

“So, I don’t suppose you know any First A.D.s…?”
For free?
Let’s just say that that conversation was over.

Minutes later I was talking to someone else – because basking in the glow of her obvious contempt was about as much fun as a magma enema. I don’t even recall what prompted me to say so, but something caused me to declare one of my artistic mantras “I only ever try to amuse myself. The rest of you are merely a bonus.”

Guess who was walking past as I said that?

“Yeah, I can tell.” She said, “I saw your movie.”
“You are a total fucking cunt. You know that don’t you?”

She left shortly thereafter and I went back to enjoying myself at the BBQ.

So, let’s do a bit of 'analysis…'

Hey! Cunt!
You are a fucking Office P.A. That’s ‘glorified secretary’ – although ‘glory’ in that sense is rather misleading as it’s one of the lamest fucking jobs in the entire film-industry. Fuck I’d hate to be an Office P.A. Now, let’s see, are YOU making a feature film? No? Then shut the fuck up. Oh, wait a second. I’m doing exactly what you did in the first place. I made the assumption that you aren’t making a feature film… and no, calling for hotel rooms for FIDO doesn’t equate to making a feature film. Hell it only barely qualifies as being involved in a feature film. You made the assumption that I’m a total fucking idiot and that having a really small budget also means that we have none of the issues taken care of. I’ve got news for you. Superman Returns could have been made for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING if everything had been donated. If you were to add up the real-world costs of our in-kind donations, we’d have a pretty significant budget. It seems that when you are a big-hearted, positive, giving person people are really willing to do and give stuff for you for free.
So why would you say something like “You haven’t made it yet” in such a withering manner? How about “Gee. That’s a big challenge.” Or “Have you thought about…[fill in some technical bogeyman that we haven’t considered yet.]” and actually be constructive? I mean really, Cunt, let’s face it there are only two ways this can go. A) We succeed and make this film and next time I see you I get to say “Hey Cunt, enjoy my fucking film?” B) We fail and apart from the small circle of people who are involved or know us personally – NO ONE EVER KNOWS THAT YOU WERE RIGHT. Jeez that’s a big victory for you, congratulations. Fuck you very much.

As to the second bit – “For Free?
Guess what? We’re all doing this for free. Why? Because we all believe in this project. Because there is more to gain from work than money.
Oh and… we got a new 1st A.D.

And in the third matter…
It actually hardly even bears getting into, but seeing as I’m on a roll…
Let’s take a look at what I said. “I only ever try to amuse myself. The rest of you are merely a bonus.” In other words – WHO GIVES A FUCK WHAT YOU THINK?

Christ. Ya’know just because you were born with a cunt, doesn’t oblige you to act like one. As a matter of fact, in my experience most people born with cunts can’t be bothered to act like one. So what is your problem?
Is it that no-one wants to give you a decent film-industry job?
That you don't have the (non-biological) cajones (and not because of the biological cunt) to go and do it youself, so you're left being an assistant crack-whore... I mean Office P.A.?
Is it that all your own dreams and ambitions have been pounded into dust by your own negative attitude?

I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that when it comes time to hire an Office P.A. I won’t be hiring you. I think I’ll hire someone with a positive outlook and the ability to field criticism in a constructive manner.

At Provost Pictures we don’t hire cunts. Even for free.