Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Ugly, the Bad, and the Good

Chock full ‘o Links

In my ceaseless quest to share the wealth and pass on items of interest, I offer another Wednesday compendium of bits and pieces.

First, the Ugly – at least for those of us who live and work here in California. You in the Great Beyond, blessed with fat taxpayer-funded subsidies luring Hollywood productions to your fair states, should take some comfort in the California's bumbling inability to stanch the flow as our once-thriving film and television industry bleeds away to the north and east.

Feel free to point and laugh.

In a democracy, it’s been said, we all get the government we deserve, so I guess we in the Not-So-Golden-State brought this on ourselves. That doesn’t mean I have to like it, but there we are – and here you go.

Although the article describes a few feeble efforts to encourage local production, the overall message -- bolstered by statistics on just how much work we've lost in the past few years -- is grim and grimmer.

Next, the Bad -- two recent articles from the LA Times detailing the ongoing contractions in the film industry. Given that Hollywood’s corporate overlords know quite a bit about selling the widgets that made them rich, but very little about making movies not based on comic books (or board games, believe it or not), it comes as no surprise that the studio’s reaction to the current economic downturn is one of raw panic. Indeed, it seems these studio samurai are pulling up the drawbridges and hiding under their beds.

Oh, and they're firing people. Lots of people.

Something tells me the bloodletting has only just begun...

Finally, the Good -- if you’re into baseball (hey, it’s October, with the playoffs in full swing!), you’ll enjoy reading the web diary of a minor league pitcher in the San Francisco Giant’s farm system. Garrett Broshuis has been through good times and bad in his quest to make the big leagues, but at 27, is now taking a hard look at his future. For him, this is Very Big Deal – it’s his life, after all – but for the readers, his blog is a real treat. Garrett writes with a depth and sensitivity that might surprise you, painting a vivid picture of chasing a dream through the minor leagues.

The story is not simply about baseball, but a young man's struggle to balance his love for the game (and the harsh realities of minor league life) against the primal desire to build a viable future together with his wife: in a way, it's America's Pastime vs. the American Dream. Unlike so many sports-insider chronicles, this one doesn't resort to cliche or retreat behind a wall of stoic platitudes. In his posts, Garrett is refreshingly candid about the pressures of his dilemma.

You can find his blog here, and when you do, be sure to read this, this, and this – then follow the link to the ”Suitcase Chronicles” he writes for “Baseball America.”

Right now, Garrett Broshuis stands at the crossroads, looking both ways and testing the wind. I'm sure he'll make a good decision in the end, but whether he decides to stay in baseball or chart a new course for his family, we should all hope he keeps on writing.

He's good, and will only get better. Check it out.


anton said...

Whew! For a second there, I thought you were going to mention the Dodgers in the post-season. Go Giants!

I'll check out the blog

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with firing overpaid corporate pencil dicks? Maybe they will have some cash to spread out to the below the line people.

Michael Taylor said...

Anton --

Never fear, I'm with the orange and black all the way, high or low, good times and bad...

Anonymous --

I didn't say there was anything wrong with a slaughter in the executive suites, but if you think the Corporate Capos will spread any of the resulting wealth below the line, I'm afraid you're dreaming.

A nice dream to be sure, and one I dearly wish would come true, but still just a dream...

Sis Cesspool said...

Your blog should be required reading for recent film school grads. I had the unfortunate experience of working with juniors from my alma mater. I won't name the school, but it's often confused with a Transcendentalist in Boston. At any rate, these kids were beyond ridiculous in their expectations. (I had one kid scream (yes scream) at me that he worked on a $40K project, so he believed it entitled him to a position. Since when does a school project cost $40K, let alone screaming?) Without ever having set foot in Los Angeles,(where I have been for 14 years) they told me what I did wrong and what I should have done in order to have succeeded in "The Business." Who said I failed? Needless to say, I had a hearty laugh, and look forward to following their careers, if they should ever get one.

BoskoLives said...

Well, if ya can't beat 'em, get on a plane and join 'em.

That being said, I'm on a flight tomorrow to work on a feature length film (my first job lasting more than a week in the past year) in the North Central of the three main "New Hollywoods", AKA Detroit.

The other two are Albuquerque and New Orleans in the event any of those film students you mentioned are listening in and wondering where there future is going to be taking them.

No palm trees in MoTown, but they're paying a decent rate and (so far) treating me very nicely.