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Not a front for a secret organization.
Written by Rob Schultz (human).

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Some weeks I'm busy.

Jobs and opportunities in LA are fleeting. Here one minute, gone the next. Sometimes they move on without you, sometimes they simply cease to exist. It's a lesson you (meaning me) can learn over and over, as much as you want.

So when I tell my dad about a project, it means one of three things:

  1. I've been working there for two days.
  2. I'm trying sound less like a failure.
  3. I have gone and made a classic error of optimism.

You work on a pilot that gets picked up, and the series doesn't hire any of the staff from the pilot? So it goes.

Offered a cool job on a studio movie, and it actually goes to the star's nephew, who has no experience in your job? That's just the nature of the business, it seems. Or the town. It's okay. In some ways, it's better, because at least you didn't lose on merit.

The contract for $20,000 worth of work dries up after $200? That sucks, but it'd be worse if you told everyone you had a big windfall coming your way.

I get repeat business from some producers, which is terrific. But when they haven't got anything for me, it's time to go out and sell. A day like today, I've emailed 3 feature films that are looking for an editor. On many of them I'll never hear anything at all, but in a given week I'll probably talk over between 1 and 5 possible new gigs with possible new clients or collaborators.

I'm not going to tell my dad about most of them. It's like sending out 'Save The Date' cards featuring a woman you saw, but didn't actually meet, on the bus. It's going to raise a lot of uncomfortable questions about her health and whereabouts.

I'm not sure that any project that has put me 'on hold' has ever come through. I don't think it's because I told my dad about them. NDAs were not involved. But when I call him up and tell him about an upcoming movie that says I've got the job and I'll be staying in a hotel in another state for two months, and then later it turns out the company that was going to pay for all that went bankrupt and didn't make any movies at all, well, those are the more memorable examples.

Put another way, I have no objection to trying and failing, but usually, I prefer to do so in private. I tried an experiment sometime last year where I applied for every job on every want-ad type site that I could possibly do (related to media production, that is), regardless of budget. By the end of the week I had met in person with producers and agreed to edit a complete feature film for free, color correct an 8 episode web series, also for free, and co-host a daily podcast about video games from an office in Santa Monica, whilst living in Burbank. Hands were shook, tentative dates were booked, and nothing was produced. And nobody had to hear anything about it.

It happens all the time. Like actors auditioning or surgeons blending horses and monkeys. It just got me again. A decisive factor in moving to my current apartment was convenience and proximity to a job that probably doesn't exist. But, y'know, I'm an optimist. Sure, the rent on such a place would be a lot more affordable with the job than without, but that's just motivation to keep looking for new gigs.

This isn't a "woe is me" kind of story. I mean, I manage to keep kinda busy. Some weeks, I'm so busy I only spend a couple of days thinking about which of a thousand tiny mistakes spelled my doom as the potential second full-time employee at Sandwich Video. Not this week, of course, but sometimes.

Machine of Death Flashfiction

The lovely people at Machine of Death put out a call a few weeks ago for 55-word Machine of Death-related short stories. I wrote one immediately, and then forgot all about it.  It goes like this:

"We meet again, old friend," announced the Duke, as he stripped off his gloves.

A few minutes later, the slip shot out of the machine.  An aide retrieved it.

"Just like all the others," said the Duke. "Where's the next one?"

The aide scratched off an item on his clipboard and got in the limousine.

I just coincidentally happened to submit it before the deadline, but because I already wrote a blog entry that day, you won't see this for another couple of days, by when it will be TOO LATE to submit your own!

HOWEVER, since MoD was on my mind whilst grocery shopping, this following true tale of terror on the high seas came to mind:

"Since when do you drink your father's Diet Coke?" Brad's mother demanded.

"I don't," said Brad.

"Then why was this can in your trash?" his mother asked.

"He was just upstairs when he threw it away, I guess."

"Don't you lie to me!"

Brad looked at the frame on the wall. OLD AGE. He sighed.

UPDATE:  You can read the MoD staff's favorites on their website.  If you're like me, and bad at reading the initial prompt, you'll notice how they're all to do with existing pop culturey things.  You'll say 'well that's kind of boring.  What gives?'  And finally you'll realize that was the assignment, and feel just slightly sillier about your own non-fanfic flashfic.  But at least you didn't write fanfic.


Youngstown, Ohio is a standing set of a city.  Built for 200,000 and home to 60,000, it would remind you of the cliche facade towns of the old westerns, if it weren't so desolate as to be distracting. I've spent a couple of weeks there shooting movies - specifically My Soul To Take (a religious horror) and My Soul To Take 2 (a buffy-esque martial arts actioner).  Neither is the Wes Craven version, and neither has seen the light of day, as far as I know.

The films shot nights, meaning the crew woke up around 5pm and went to work as the sun was setting, and by the time the sun was rising again, those of us who weren't headed over to a third-shifters' bar for a few hours were headed back to the hotel for the free hot breakfast.  Ordinarily, you've got a handful of guests and patrons wandering downstairs over the course of a couple hours, stumbling towards coffee and perhaps sustaining some powdered eggs as a kind of collateral damage, but for a few weeks five years ago, one Holiday Inn (or something) was beset by two dozen filmmakers cleaning out the breakfast buffet as fast as the staff could refill it.

Today, I'm on set in a real Hollywood soundstage, and there's no make-your-own-waffle station.  What gives?

Two memories, no charge

In second grade, in reading groups, at St. Pascal Baylon, the teacher for our group made fun of me for not grasping the concept of blindness.  She described it as being 'just like having your eyes closed all the time.'  But, if my eyes are closed, I can still distinguish when a light is turned on in a dark room, for instance.  We went around on this point a couple of times.

A couple years ago, I worked for someone who would, perhaps once a week or so, tell me "You look just like Mike Myers." and if one of his friends or family members was near by, he'd bring them over to weigh in on my similarities to Mike.  He needed confirmation so much that I would get asked my opinion on the matter too.  "That depends," I'd say, "serial killer Mike Myers [from Halloween], or comedian Mike Myers [from SNL]?"  Neither, it turns out.  Just a guy they knew.

I'm not sure why the above never got posted back in May, but I hope you all had yet another SpoooOooOOOOOoky ThaaaAAaaankgiiiIIiving!

What's neighborly?

Ceteris Paribus. Which is to say, all else being equal, if you're some economist or guy who likes to make arguments based on inconvenient terminology (like an economist).  All else being equal, I prefered "can only sleep with the TV set to maximum volume" guy to "vomiting out a window or perhaps off a balcony" guy, as neighbors go.  

Or so I thought.  VOAW(OPOAB)-guy has been going for about 12 hours now, which has taken on comic proportions, even if the scream while vomiting and a second later, the splash of said vomit isn't any less horrible than it was last night. 

And on that note, please allow me to introduce you to a short post written on Oct 12, 2008, that never got past the draft button:

This might be a difference of living in the city vs. the suburbs, but when I was growing up, if the kids down the street were screaming their heads off, it was part of whatever game they were playing, and you ignored it.

Not the case at a friend's house a few months ago, in a fairly suburban corner of LA, when the neighbor kid started screaming his head off.  Our host dropped everything to go to the back yard and yell 'are you okay?' for a little while, and then went around to go knock at the neighbor's door and see how things were going. Seemed strange, but only to a few of us.  To the rest, we seemed monstrous for being inclined to ignore it.

But what happens when max-volume-TV-neighbor can go to bed and leave some horror movie on, with a woman in distress screaming "HELP ME! HELP ME PLEASE! SOMEBODY! SOMEBODY HELP!" at 2 am?  What's neighborly then?

Maybe the thing to do is to just let one of the other neighbors take care of it.  Relying on 'someone else' to call the cops, or to put out that fire, or to cure cancer is typically a recipe for disaster, but we can rest assured that one nearby neighbor is on the case.  Angry-yelling-out-the-window-guy moved in somewhere around here lately, and I like him.

The family with the new baby does a pretty good job, and the baby doesn't cry very often, but when it does, angry-window-yelling-guy is on top of it.  Someone's gotta tell that baby to shut up, after all, or it'll never stop crying!  He makes me feel like I live in a movie about New York in the 1970s.  There're two girls fighting about something right now, about 1:30am, and angry-guy set 'em straight: "You're both assholes," proclaims he, "now shut up!"