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Sunday, July 28, 2013
Out of the Frying Pan, into the Fire
This isn't an actual post -- at least, not the sort of post I'm used to writing and you've become accustomed to reading here at BS&T -- because we're still in the month of July, and the July hiatus remains in effect. I'll probably have something new up next week... but maybe not. I got my ass kicked on a show all last week, and am still feeling (and hearing) the reverberations.
Not to mention the fatigue. God damn it, I hate that. This getting old thing really sucks, kids. Those of you in your 20's and early 30's have no idea what's coming, nor will you for another twenty to thirty years. But that'll be then and this is now, so don't waste a minute worrying about it. All will be revealed with the relentless passage of time -- and when that day arrives, you'll know.
Just be sure to enjoy and make the most of your youth while you still have it, because once it's gone, it's gone for good. At that point, the page will have turned to a much darker chapter of life.
Enough whining. This post is meant to draw your attention to a much more interesting offering by young Ben Puleo at his blog Delusions of Fresh Meat. Fresh out of school, Ben made the great leap of faith in taking the plunge here in Hollywood, moving to this City of Broken Dreams to begin beating his tender head against the hard brick wall that is Hollywood.
Breaking into the industry sounds easy when some old fart like me prattles on about how things were back in MY day... but it wasn't easy then and it's not easy now -- and this is a very different Hollywood than I encountered as a greener-than-green wannabe back in 1977. With no Internet, no Industry blog-o-sphere, only a few film schools in the country, and a strong, thriving Hollywood that was still the center of the cinematic universe, the competition for entry level jobs was not nearly so fierce. I worked for free on one job -- an extremely low budget feature -- and from that point on, managed to get paid for my ignorant, fumbling, uneducated labor as I learned on the job. *
I didn't earn much, mind you, but I did get paid.
Things are different in Hollywood these days, where kids with no Industry connections find themselves at the bottom of a very steep and rocky hill. This town is flooded with young, starry-eyed wannabes here to make their mark on the Industry -- and a few of them will do just that. The rest will have to go back home or find a way to settle for something less than their Hollywood Dreams.
That's life in the big city.
In an effort to gain a leg up on the newbie competition, Ben recently attended a weekend workshop at PA Bootcamp, which he writes about in his most recent post. In the not-too-distant past, The Anonymous Production Assistant got into a kerfuffle with the people at PA Bootcamp -- TAPA contending that their workshops were not worth the money, because what PABC teaches can be learned on the job by any sentient, motivated young person in a couple of days.
I won't argue the point with TAPA (who I happen to like), but before the Hollywood newbie can learn on the job, he-or-she has to get that first job... and that's where the PA Bootcamp experience just might prove useful. If you come from outside Hollywood lacking any connections, and thus don't know a damned thing about the realities of the Industry, anything that can help you learn some of the basics and thus be better prepared for that first day on set is worth considering, including PA Bootcamp. I don't know anybody involved with that organization, but until someone can demonstrate to me that they're running a scam on vulnerable young wannabes, their PA workshops are at least worthy of consideration.
Everybody has to learn the ropes somewhere, so I don't really see much difference between working for no money at all (as I did for my first three weeks) and paying a nominal sum to learn a few on-set basics.
Maybe it's because I'm closing in on the end of my own Industry career, but I feel a certain resonance in the struggles of kids like Ben as they tilt at the windmills of Hollywood. I remember well the blend of hope, determination, and fear -- the fear of failure -- that accompanied me to this town so long ago. A lot has changed since then, and in most of the ways that matter, Hollywood is a completely different place now, but that part of the equation remains the same. Overcoming one's fear in managing to find yourself -- and your place in the Industry -- is still what this journey is all about.
* I've done my share of freebies since then, of course, but those were a different sort of transaction. Once you've acquired a certain level of skills and knowledge, the opportunity to work a day or two for free will occasionally arise as others in your peer group seek to climb the ladder. So when someone you've known for a while is trying to make a spec. commercial to build their reel or is struggling to get their no-budget first feature off the ground, you help out whenever possible.