Thursday, August 30, 2007

Yay for pictures.

It seems I may have jinxed myself by talking about the office PA gig on here and Facebook. I thought for sure I would be working there today and tomorrow, but I haven't heard from them. Ah well...I don't feel that down about it because I set up another interview, at a production company. This came about through a friend of my sister's who has kept up with my job search via the Facebook news feed...see what I mean about the strange connections?

Last night I saw some bands at a showcase at King King in Hollywood because my friend is a music coordinator at Bunim-Murray. His job basically entails going to free concerts every night. Not bad, huh? The venue was great - it had this zen warehouse-chic thing going on. I really liked the second band, The Transit War. I told the lead singer they were the best and he gave me a free CD under the condition that I had to burn it for three friends...but I think talking about it on here kinda counts. Their sound is like...halfway between The Format and Fall Out Boy. Something like that...a little rough but definitely full of passion and potential. Check 'em out. After the show we stopped at the Green Frog, a VERY dive-y dive bar on Woodman & Moorpark in Sherman Oaks. It smelled kinda like Moonshadows, which made me equally nostalgic and nauseated.

Also...did you know that Season One of Friday Night Lights is out on DVD and only $19.99 at Target and Amazon.com? Of course I had to buy it. For research. For my career. You know. For those of you who haven't seen this amazing drama, NBC is also offering a money-back guarantee if you don't like it! But you won't need it, trust me.


On a girlier note, I also had to buy these adorable $12.99 Steve Madden knockoff flats...the real ones weren't THAT expensive, but I didn't want to shell out the $69.95 and by the time they went on sale, my size and preferred color weren't available. I had sadly given up until I walked into Target and saw nearly the same shoe! Seriously, look at the pictures and tell me if you can tell which ones were $69.95 and which ones were $12.99:

Okay, maybe you can a little. But not $54 worth of differences!

I also bought another one of Almay's Truly Last Color lipsticks. I used to accept as a fact of life that lipstick does not stay on your lips if you eat anything...or even just exist for more than a few hours after you put it on. This is untrue! This lipstick clung to my lips so fervently that I washed my face, went to bed, woke up the next morning, took a shower and looked in the mirror to find it still on. Nuts. I mean, it could be a pain if you really wanted to take it off...but it says that some makeup remover will easily do the trick. I'm not super thrilled about the color selection, but it's still pretty cool...and has a clear coat to make it nice and shiny. It's $8.54 at Target, which isn't super cheap but worth it for how seldom you'll have to reapply.


I swear, I only intended to buy FNL and sink mats. I need to stop going to Target.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I have a job. Well, not really. I mean, sort of.

On Monday & Tuesday I worked as an Office PA for a reality show production office hub. The job entails long hours, low pay and menial tasks, but the people are all very friendly, and since it's a day-to-day thing (they call me if they could use me) it seems like a good way to make some money while I keep looking for something else. I also get to gawk at slutty reality show hopefuls as they walk by the desk...yesterday this one girl was wearing a dress that probably could have doubled as a headband and as she passed us, chest and thighs on display, the two casting assistants and I all made the same appalled face. "I'm really glad we all just shared that moment," the one assistant said. I found out later it was only her second day also...as new shows start up (which is all the time), there are always new people...and a lot of them are around my age, so that's cool.

Meanwhile, today I interviewed to be a second assistant to a manager who split from ICM ten years ago and works on his own. He exclusively represents TV writers (good ones, too) so I think it would be a great opportunity. The interview was with the first assistant, and he and I had a great conversation about TV shows, intern experiences, etc. He said he is going to pass my resume along to the boss with a good recommendation, and that the boss will start interviewing next week. I have a really good feeling about it...I hope it works out.

My friend Jason emailed me with the news that he's moving out here in a few weeks, but he is apprehensive since my blog has painted a not-so-rosy picture of the job search. Here's what I told him:

1. The competition is intense. Sure, you're brilliant, you're competent, and you're a former intern of really impressive companies. So is everybody else.

2. Connections only go so far. Yes, who you know helps. It's how I got the reality gig...but it's not everything. Connections can only help you IF THEY KNOW ABOUT OPENINGS. I contacted everybody I know out here (and I know quite a few), but they all basically said "sure, I'll let you know if I hear of anything." Most of them haven't told me about anything since.

3. Non-IC connections can pay off too. I'm now getting emailed jobs from one of my sister's friends from high school, and another one of her friends from college. My sister works in finance...so I didn't expect this. But it works.

4. Knowing people is best, but online sites like http://www.entertainmentcareers.net/, http://www.mandy.com/, http://jobs.defamer.com/ and the UTA list can work sometimes. It's how I got an interview in New York, and two interviews out here (including the one today). Just put together a cover letter template so you don't waste too much time. For every 10-12 jobs you apply for online, you'll probably get called once.

5. Temp agencies can be good, or scary. I hated my experience at one, as you read on the blog, but one of my friends got a cool temp gig at Paramount through Star Staffing.

That's all for now...I'll keep ya posted.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Everyone thinks I'm crazy.

The Giant Agency rescheduled my interview WHILE I WAS SITTING IN THE LOBBY. Grr. The valets looked at me like I was crazy when I returned to get my car eight minutes later. I'm going back on Tuesday. Also on the agency front, Katie's boyfriend sent my resume into another agency and I am supposed to hear from them soon.

I never made it to the other interview, because I got a slightly late start after spending over two hours at the DMV. I actually would have been fine if my directions had told me to make a left onto Santa Monica rather than a right...I got to Beverly Hills before I realized I wasn't going to find Fairfax, and by the time I turned around and made it to Starbucks I was about 12 minutes late and the guys I was supposed to meet had left. I waited for a while because I couldn't get a hold of the assistant back in the office, and the baristas looked at me like I was crazy. I'm starting to sense a theme here.

Basically I'm back at square one, though I did get in touch with a friend of my sister's from high school who produces the AFI Film Festival and has promised to send me PA-ish jobs he hears about. I think I'm going to go sign up at Central Casting on Monday so I can get a little work before I plunge further into credit card debt. If I'm not too fat to be an extra, that is. And that is certainly a possibility.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What Not to Wear: the Staffing Agency

First off, thanks to everyone for the comments and encouragement!

This morning I went to a staffing agency that works exclusively in entertainment. Yay for rush hour...somehow, it took me longer to go 1.4 miles down Sunset than 8 miles over the canyon. Oh, silly LA. Once at the agency, I had to fill out a ton of paperwork and then take Word, Excel and typing tests. I got 97% on Word (I think I missed one question about mail merges or something), 80% on Excel (who knew you could put NUMBERS in those spreadsheets!) and 64.8 words per minute. Personally, I think I can type faster than that...I got 80 the last time I took one at a temp agency in Buffalo...but whatever. Then I met with an agent...she was overall pretty nice, until my physical appearance came into the conversation. She asked, "Do you always wear your hair like that?" and made me turn around twice so she could inspect it. She thinks it needs to be more "professional," since agencies are going to be hiring people who "could be on magazine covers." She then proceeded to instruct me on how to put my hair into a low ponytail at the nape and twist it under. No, I'm not kidding...and it gets better. Then she said, "Do you ever wear ANY color on your face? Do you know how pale you look?" (For the record, I was wearing foundation, bronzer, eyeliner and two kinds of eyeshadow.) Then she BUSTED OUT A MIRROR, held it up to my face and said, "Look how pale you are!"

I don't think there's any film school that prepares you for this kind of thing.


Luckily, she found my new suit from Banana to be acceptable (that's it over on the left). And it was on sale! Thank God, 'cause suits are damned expensive! Regardless of the unorthodox visual judgements (and the weird trough on her filing cabinet in the corner that was oozing steam), she did fax over my resume to another Giant Agency for a floater position, and to a small boutique management company in Sherman Oaks. So we'll see. Later I went to ICLA and saw Holly and my favorite professor/advisor Steve Ginsberg, who nearly choked on his Caesar salad when he saw me again. He assured me that the staffing agent's critique was insane. "Play the game if you want to, but know that that's ridiculous," he said, shaking his head. "It's 2007 and people are still saying that kind of thing."

Meanwhile, I set up another interview on Thursday at a development company through an email train of Ithaca grads. I'm slightly concerned because I can't seem to find any record of what they've done or are doing, and my meeting is going to take place in Starbucks. But they're offering good money and benefits (benefits!), the job description involved script reading/notes, and it might be a cool opportunity to help launch a new company, if that's indeed what it is. Besides, who doesn't love a mid-afternoon green tea frappucino?

Monday, August 20, 2007

job hunting, etc.

Today began at the DMV, where I accomplished nothing (not exactly a shock). It turns out that you need to have a passport or birth certificate to register your car. I found out later my passport actually was in my car, stuck in a random compartment during the cross-country move. It didn't really matter since I also needed a smog check and a "verification" that required waiting outside in a long line of cars. While I was waiting I got a call from a coordinator (and Ithaca grad) at a reality production office asking me to come in for an interview today, so I decided to try the DMV again when I have all the required materials. The interview went pretty well, I think...the interviewer was just a year older than I am, and had only conducted one other interview in his time as coordinator, so it was definitely more of a conversation. It turns out we had both worked briefly at Hollywood Video in Ithaca...crazy, huh? Anyway, the job would be an Office PA - helping set up new people with computer systems, taking lunch orders, organizing boxes of files, you name it. The environment seems friendly and casual, and the office isn't too far from my apt...but it would be 9 am - 9:30 pm every day, which is a bit crazy, especially since reality isn't ideally where I want to be. I mean, it's very common for people in Hollywood to work until 8 pm...or later if you're shooting. But at the office til 9:30 every day? Yeesh. Anyway, who knows if I'll even be offered the position...and the coordinator also isn't sure when he'll need someone, or for how long. Probably Monday. But maybe not. So there's a bit of uncertainty.

Meanwhile, I'm waiting to hear back from the Page Program, which asked me for references soon after I applied. I'm also interviewing with someone at staffing agency tomorrow morning, and a recruiter at the Giant Agency on Wednesday. Is it wrong that I'm most excited about getting cable on Friday?

Friday, August 17, 2007

tales from the valley

I think I am starting to accept my unemployment. Perhaps even embrace it. I have been to Target three times since Monday and already have a list for my next trip. I have assembled my dresser, desk chair and nightstand. (Desk is in the process...but I need some superglue from Target before I continue.)

Last night I had dinner with Justin at Mel's Drive In (no celeb sightings this time) and we discussed the whole job thing. Everyone always says, it's connections, it's who you know. The thing is, I know a ton of people. I can name DOZENS of shows, production companies and agencies that people I know work for or have worked for. And I've contacted them...they just don't know of any openings right now. There are two good signs, though; one of my old internship bosses sent my resume onto the TV Lit dept at a Giant Agency (guess I'll need to buy a suit), and I got contacted back about a freelance part time script reader position. The latter would be pretty awesome for extra cash, but it might be really occasional and might not start up for a while. But like I said, I'm accepting my unemployment. I discovered our apartment complex's laundry room and trash dumpster today. I'm definitely not in Ithaca anymore - it seems as though I am going to have to seek out a recycling center to get rid of the giant cardboard boxes that my furniture came in if I don't want to throw it out.

Meanwhile, I don't want to totally forget about TV writing, the basic reason why I started this blog in the first place. Before I left Ithaca, I started working on a pilot about my experience with college radio. The problem: I couldn't think of any good plots...lots of fun characters using cool radio jargon with not much else happening. I thought about my favorite pilot, from The O.C. It's a great example because the main storyline (Ryan getting arrested and brought into Sandy's life) affects EVERY character and therefore spins a lot of other plots and conflicts into motion. So I did a kind of exercise and came up with a list of basic situations that could start up an interesting plot...you'll find that most of them are also conflicts. Coincedence? I think not.

1. a character misunderstands another and then acts or makes a decision based on the misunderstanding (major comedy plot)

2. two characters struggle to say how they really feel, and possibly even make each other think the opposite of what is true (aka basically every Grey's Anatomy episode)

3. a character won't give another what s/he wants

4. two characters attempt to achieve goals that are in direct conflict with one another (Blood Diamond is a fantastic example of this)

5. the audience knows something a character doesn't (dramatic irony/suspense/horror movies)

6. a character works to prevent something from happening (remember pre-Friday Night Lights Kyle Chandler on Early Edition?)

7. one issue affects every character in thir own way; one decision or action affects other characters and their decisions or actions (The O.C. pilot)

8. a character pretends to be someone they're not (either figuratively or physically) or does something against their intuition and then is compelled to come clean (physically = Shakespeare)
9. a character has a secret

10. the outcome of a decision is the opposite of what was expected

11. a character gets what s/he wants and realizes s/he wants something else

12. a character tricks or lies to another character

Okay, that's plenty for now. Target calls.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Welcome to LA

I have been here for just over 48 hours. I have already gotten a parking ticket, been hit on by a guy while in my car waiting at a light, gotten stuck in an hourlong traffic jam after 10 pm, spotted a celebrity at Mel's Drive In and heard a radio ad for discount "breast augs." Welcome to LA.

As for the road trip: Milwaukee involved a nice visit with my cousin Joe and his wife Jamie. They are both only a couple years older than I am, so that is always strange, but it was good to see them. Josh and I also briefly went downtown and admired the lakefront and interesting architecture (no time for art) at the art museum. Madison is a cool little hippie/college town with lots of restaurants and fun shops. Like Ithaca, but better. Hmm...Madison, Boulder, Northampton...all hippie/college towns that are a lot cooler than Ithaca. It was nice to see Kate in Minneapolis, though I found the city - and especially the Mall of America - to be underwhelming. You have to understand, it was always my childhood dream to visit the Mall of America...it was a GIANT MALL WITH A SNOOPY-THEMED AMUSEMENT PARK IN THE MIDDLE! Unfortunately, the shops are extremely mediocre - nothing I hadn't been to, and the amusement park is now PEPSI-themed. That's right, PEPSI instead of Snoopy. A little piece of my soul just died. Iowa is exactly the corn-filled state you imagined. Sadly, no Kevin Costner. Missouri was fricking hot as hell and I remember really disliking my time in the car there. There is a bar in Norman, Oklahoma (another college town cooler than Ithaca!) that has ladies' night on Thursdays with no cover and absolutely free, unlimited beer for all those carrying two X chromosomes. Amazing. Visiting Erin and eating Sonic (Josh has been waiting to eat Sonic pretty much his whole life) was also fabulous. My beloved Honda Civic nearly died in Barstow, CA. We stopped to get gas and suddenly the engine started racing and the car would not shift out of park. Bad times. We tried a few more times, to no avail, then called AAA and waited for a tow truck. When the tow guy got there, the car worked again. He and the mechanic theorized that perhaps the transmission just got a little too hot. I felt kind of like a jackass, but a jackass who didn't have to pay for a new transmission - so I was totally fine with it.

And there you have it. My third cross-country trek. I think I've visited 40 states now. I'll be okay with never driving cross-country again. (And so will the Honda, which now has over 97,000 miles on it.

As for LA...the apartment (by the way, it's not the one I posted below...I am a dirty liar) is in a GREAT location in Sherman Oaks. I can walk to the Cheesecake Factory...and walking at all in LA is so rare that it makes me feel a little better about eating cheesecake. The apt is also very spacious and cute, and I promise to post pictures when I get a new digital camera or steal someone else's. It is still pretty empty, but I did buy a mattress, boxspring and bedframe (and got them delivered!) for $224 from a guy off craigslist yesterday. Sure, the fact that he kept brand new mattresses in his garage in Reseda is a little sketchy, but who am I to judge? I also bought a dresser, nightstand, desk and chair for under $500 from a great little store a couple blocks down on Ventura called Cost Plus World Market. The next plan is definitely getting a fridge at Sears or Best Buy (both have full-sized ones for $399.99) since I have been spending my days rather hungrily.

I also am trying to find a job. I had an interview today for a paid internship in talent management. Not my ideal field, but company is also a production company and does a ton of stuff, from TV to film to commercials, so there are a lot of opportunities within the company. The posting on the UTA list interested me because it said it was great training for your first assistant job - not getting coffee, but not throwing you onto a tough desk with no help. There is also great opportunity for advancement, as 5 of the 7 interns they've had are now working as assistants in various departments there. The job is mine if I want it, but the downside is that the company uses the term "paid" very loosely: It's $150 a week. That won't even pay my rent. Now, they promise that people move up quickly - sometimes in a matter of weeks, or just a month or two. So being an intern there for a month and then moving up might actually be more lucrative than sitting around job hunting and not making ANY money for a month. I am going to keep hunting and see what is out there, but they want a decision very soon so I'm kind of conflicted. I had a long talk with Katie about her agency experience, and she has mixed feelings. Yes, she recommends it for the training and learning experience. But does it suck hard core? Yup. It seems like working at an agency can be a fast-track to moving up, but is giving up your life and happiness worth it? I don't know. And what if I am so overworked that I never have time to write? It's possible that working fewer hours at a less-powerful production company might actually help me reach my career goals more quickly. Every writer has a different story of how they got to be where they are...one of my teachers got an MBA. Another wrote movie reviews for Variety and then was a publicist. So I know there really isn't a path I MUST take to succeed. I just need to find some kind of path.
P.S. The aformentioned celebrity sighting was Andrea Bowen, the 17 year-old who plays Teri Hatcher's daughter on Desperate Housewives. She was eating at Mel's Drive In on Ventura with her friend and both their moms. How refreshingly normal. She is quite pretty, but wears a lot of makeup.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Central Time

Day 3 of the road trip is underway. I am currently in Minneapolis, MN, where my friend Kate lives and works as an Americorps VISTA. After spending a night in Milwaukee with my cousins (and their adorable husky puppy, Nala), Josh and I went to Madison (a cute, hippie-ish collegetown much more lively than Ithaca) for lunch and then came to MN. Today we're taking a day off from driving since tomorrow will be a 12 hour trip to Oklahoma, so we're going to live one of my childhood dreams and explore the Mall of America. We also may grab lunch with Matt Q, another Ithaca friend who lives in Minneapolis and works crazy hours as a design intern for the Star-Tribune. There are actually 4 IC alum from my scholarship program in Minneapolis, which is pretty crazy.


This is the inside of the mall. Ridiculous, right? I'm sure it will amuse us for hours.

In other exciting starting-the-rest-of-my-life news, I GOT AN APARTMENT!!! On Sunday when I arrive in LA I will officially be a resident of Sherman Oaks. After walking away from a possible deal with a sketchy landlord whose too-expensive place was still massively under construction, Katie and I opted for a smaller but cute and move-in-ready place on Murietta Ave. Check it outtt:



yes, it has a pool!



Cute, right? I'm excited. I'm not going to have anything to sleep on when I get there on Sunday but at least I won't have to live out of my car.

As for jobs...I applied for a couple, and did hear back about two paid internships, both at film production companies. One is probably going to be filled by the time I get there but I was told to call and check for sure, and the other wants me to come in for an interview so I'm just waiting to find out when. A paid internship wouldn't be ideal since it wouldn't include benefits, but if it would turn into an assistant position after a couple months it could definitely be worth it. Also, I sent in my Friday Night Lights spec into the Warner Brothers writing program. I should hear about that in October.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

In ten days I will be in LA.

I made it back to Buffalo, despite the fact that the people at Jiffy Lube forgot to put the cap back on my oil container and it splashed all over my engine and oozed out the hood. Luckily no damage was done and my car has passed inspection, making it ready for the cross-country trek. I leave Monday, and will get to LA the following Sunday. I may or may not have somewhere to live by then...Katie and I applied for a townhouse in North Hollywood and since Katie was the first to see it, we have first dibs if our apps are good enough (I'm hoping the fact that I'm jobless won't be a huge obstacle in getting an apartment). Anywho, here's the itinerary:

Mon 8/6 = drive to Milwaukee and stay with my cousins
Tues 8/7 = drive to Minneapolis and stay with Kate Levinson
(I will be rerouted around I-35 due to the collapsed bridge...did you see the photos? it was like an action movie, I couldn't believe it.)
Weds 8/8 = three words: MALL OF AMERICA.
Thurs 8/9 = drive to Oklahoma City and stay with former London roommate Erin Abshere
Fri = 8/10 more where the winds come sweeping down the plain (Erin hates that song, especially when you get stranded in the Dublin airport for hours and then an entire drunken Irish Rugby team sings it to you when you finally get on the plane)
Sat 8/11 = drive halfway from OK to LA (somewhere near Albuquerque, NM)
Sun 8/12 = drive to LA!!!

I am excited.

Job search: I've started it up again, figuring it might be possible to set up some interviews ahead of time. I'm just writing right in the cover letters when I will get there so that nobody wastes any time. Once I get to LA, I'm going to send "I'm here!" emails to all my former teachers, internship bosses, fellow alum, etc. I've seen a couple postings for paid internships...I wonder if I should apply. It might be a good way to work myself up into an assistant position (and already be comfortable in the work environment). I'll just have to buy that emergency-only healthcare for $51 a month.

What else? I haven't seen any new shows or heard any news I feel inclined to share. Whoopi's on The View. La de da. I feel like that show makes so many headlines despite the fact that nobody I've ever met watches it.