Sure there are things you do for love…but there are also things you do for work or to get a job…
Are you familiar with the website Letters of Note? Well, if you’re like me, you don’t quite think of it until you’re wondering what you could do to sidetrack yourself from doing what you should really be doing. And then you spend a good chunk of time reading these letters and calling it a valid use of time because part of writing is reading. Neither cleaning nor organizing is reading, but if you can rationalize (fool yourself into thinking) you’re researching or gleaning things from others’ written words, well then…you’ve achieved something with which you can look back on your day and be like, oh! I did something!
Which brings me to the letter of Robert Pirosh, who came to Hollywood and sent the following letter to a number of directors, producers, and studio execs.
I like words. I like fat buttery words, such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular, creaky words, such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pecunious, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demi-monde. I like suave “V” words, such as Svengali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling words, such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. I like Oh-Heavens, my-gracious, land’s-sake words, such as tricksy, tucker, genteel, horrid. I like elegant, flowery words, such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like wormy, squirmy, mealy words, such as crawl, blubber, squeal, drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words, such as cowlick, gurgle, bubble and burp.
I like the word screenwriter better than copywriter, so I decided to quit my job in a New York advertising agency and try my luck in Hollywood, but before taking the plunge I went to Europe for a year of study, contemplation and horsing around.
I have just returned and I still like words.
May I have a few with you?
385 Madison Avenue
Spoiler alert. It worked. He scored three interviews, was hired at MGM, and wrote for the Marx brothers. (Side note: Perhaps one of my favoritest LoN is this one.)
I’m constantly reminded of how long it’s been since I worked a steady job. And as I’ve been more serious about my job search, I find it was easier when I wasn’t serious about it. It was easier when I didn’t apply to four jobs a day only to hear nothing. When I wasn’t passed along contact info from a friend for someone who didn’t email me back (there have been too many times to count). Or when I didn’t finally land an interview that went well, but apparently not well ENOUGH. When I didn’t worry about not getting the call that says they liked you best and can’t imagine their environment without you. (I guess looking for a job is a lot like looking for love.)
It was easier when I didn’t care and I didn’t let the rejection bug me.
It was also easier when I used to know EXACTLY what I wanted to do.
Way back when I was choosing where to go to college, I applied to two. (Yes, that’s it.) I would either go to Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida and study marine science (ie swim with dolphins), or I would go to Franklin College of Indiana and study journalism. I was accepted into Franklin, and my future path (even tho I wouldn’t actually attend more than six days at Franklin) was set.
Once I was on my journalism trail, I knew what I wanted. And at that time it was Jules Asner’s life. She cohosted E! News AND Wild On! Celebrities AND exotic travel?!? Sign me up. There was the little thing about not wanting to be on camera, but I (rightfully) figured I could get around that.
But how to get into E!? Even then, I knew applying online through a website meant your resume didn’t even get into anyone’s trash can, much less their hands. I was living in San Diego and working in local news at the time, and I’m still not sure where I came up with the idea: I sent the E! News director a gift bag (with a star on the front!) full of things that started with the letter E. The only things I remember off the top of my head were E.L. Fudge cookies and Evian water. After a few phone calls and a week-long trial, I won her over.
(That being said, I sent a kid-sized beach bucket full of things that begin with the letter M to MTV and never heard anything. Things work out how they’re supposed to work out.)
The only other time I’ve done something similarly creative and that in-depth for a job was when Lionsgate took over TV Guide Channel. It was right around the time Reelzchannel laid us all off. I emailed the head of the company (can you say cojones?):
As you embark on your new found adventure at TV Guide Channel, I’m sure you will consider the need for a show about movie news. As you may have heard, ReelzChannel here in LA is closing their doors and letting go of their employees. I think this is a great opportunity for you and your TV Guide endeavour. The show I worked on was called Dailies. We were a half hour show during the week and an hour on weekends. If something happened in the movie world, we knew about it. We didn’t get caught up in the gossip (there are other more successful shows (ie Hollywood 411) that do that job well), we delivered the information movie fans were looking for.The move to New Mexico and mass layoffs here in LA have left an entire staff of people available. An entire staff of people (line/segment producers, researchers, bookers, field/studio crews) that have been living and breathing movies for the last two and a half years. Who better to employ for a similar type show? I assure you that under the right management, we are a group that will flourish and aid in your success. We’re familiar with Lionsgate movies, having done several segments on the Saw franchise. A couple of our employees have worked on Deliver Us From Evil, an Oscar-nominated Lionsgate film. We love movies. We know movies.I realize it’s unusual to send a cover letter on behalf of so many people, but I really think this is a unique opportunity for all involved.
One of the EPs from TV Guide called me the next day and brought me in for an interview. Because he was told to. By the head of Lionsgate, his new parent company. But they didn’t have any positions, and would eventually do their own layoffs, and because the world is weird that EP would eventually end up at Reelz in New Mexico.
All of this to say, I know I’m capable of getting people to notice me. I think it comes down to figuring out what my next step is, and putting positive energy into it. I’ve applied for jobs both inside and outside the industry. (Received a rejection letter just this morning from TOMS…Good thing I’m totally in a Bensimon phase right now!) I’m currently writing a spec script in order to apply to a major studio’s writer’s workshop (with friends to hold me accountable and everything!).
[Sorry I got caught up in the live feed of a low speed tow truck pursuit. I am still a sucker for breaking news. Especially car chases.]
I sat down last week in an effort to think of things I could be really jazzed about doing. I came up with:
1. Being a musician. I love everything about their lifestyle and their talent. Unfortunately, I don’t really possess any of the latter. So this one is kind of out for me. But good thought process.
2. Move to an islandy/beachy place and get a job doing whatever. Think Cocktail. Think this or this Kenny Chesney song. “Chasin’ somethin’ or running for somethin'”…yep…Kenny KNOWS. It’s so tempting. Even if only for the summer. I mean, if things aren’t happening here…the chances of a resort or somewhere needing – at the very least – a babysitter or other staff member – are pretty good. But again that means podding up my stuff and getting rid of my apartment…Risky moves…but I’m paying a lot to sit here and not work…so…
And yes I realize neither of these things are serious life solutions. But I live in the present, not the future. And for now, since I’m only affecting me, I think that’s ok. I know that sitting in a cubicle somewhere is not for me. (Also, if the last few months have taught me anything it’s that trying to leave my industry doesn’t make it any easier to find a job.) I know that I need to be with people, and able to socialize. I don’t feel like I’m “done” with LA or “done” with TV, but I’m open to moving on from either if neither will have me. (If that makes sense.)
So for now, I continue writing. And continue doing fun things as they come along…although I’m getting a tighter hold of the purse strings these days. But today I didn’t have any plans other than a visit to the library, and I got to witness a tow truck police chase criss-crossing through my neighborhood! You really never know what a day will bring!!
I’m working to stay positive, and I’d be lying if I said it was easy. I do think I’m getting there tho. I just don’t know where “there” is yet.
PS I didn’t realize until I hit “publish” how apropos it was that the car chase happened while I was in the middle of writing a blog entry called “Things We Do to Get Noticed.”