Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Birthday is coming up

My birthday is coming up in a week and a half.

On one hand it's bringing back memories of last year when my Roommate and his girlfriend totally blew me off and seemed to think nothing of it. Since I still haven't gotten an actual apology, or even acknowledgment that anything happened, it's bringing some bitter and pissed feelings up.

But that's only part of the birthday stuff. On a better note, Writress decided to throw me a beer tasting party with some friends at my place, and I'm really looking forward to it. The facebook invite went out last night, and so far the people coming are me and seven girls. It's an odd grouping for a beer tasting party, but a lot of people haven't responded yet, so I'm sure the ratio will correct itself a bit. Either way I seem to be slowly turning into Paul Rudd in "I Love You Man" in that I have way more female friends as time goes on. We'll see what happens. At least I can say it won't be a sausage fest.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Starting to feel like summer

Summer starts early in LA. As in , about now-ish. It's March, but feels like what Late May is in Boston, i.e. sunny warm/hot days, pleasantly warm/balmy nights, and enough tree pollen in the air to turn your car green and make me throw back Claritin every morning, even if it stops working after a few days of doing that.

I'm also starting to make summer plans. I found out last week that I will be unable to go back to Boston for my little sister's college graduation. It isn't THAT big a deal, as it's just a ceremony, and she wasn't particularly enamored with her school, but it's still a milestone and a time when I think I SHOULD be there.

What this does mean though, is that I'm no longer saving up my vacation time for that trip. Instead, I can use it whenever I want this summer. What I think I want to do is find a week right after Writress wraps on the show she's working on, and hopefully before she starts whatever her next job is. Likely this will be in mid-June. Then I want to take the full week off, and take her back to visit Cape Cod with me. This way I get so see my family/the cape, don't have to spend a week when I want to relax girlfriend-less, and the rest of my family will be able to meet her.

This will especially be good to do since this past weekend which was spent with Writress's sister and her sister's boyfriend. I've officially met her entire immediate family, plus her two best friends from college, her cousin, as well as her cousin's kids. Her parents and best friends I've seen on multiple occasions now. By contrast, Writress has met my best friend from back east and my sister. That's it. Granted, her best friends are engaged and have family in LA, her parents have had to come here a few times for business, and her cousins live an hour and a half away in San Diego. She really wants to meet my family, and they'd like to meet her, so in a way it'll almost be nicer to have a week when I can show her around. I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Early influences

My favorite movie has always been Back to the Future. My favorite comic growing up, that I still read re-runs of daily, was Calvin & Hobbes.

I realized today that the perfect way to describe my dad is to say he's a cross between George McFly and Calvin's dad (who even had the SAME JOB as my dad). It's no wonder that I aspired to be Marty McFly when I was six years old, and felt a kinship with Calvin when I was a kid. This explains so much.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Suddenly I'm in demand (even if I'm not getting paid)

I already had too many irons in the fire, between my new spec script, revisions on my web series, the pilot I'm writing with Writress, and the pilot I'm finishing with my roommate.

Then this past week happened.

First one of my brother's friends from college who's about 8 years older than me but does comedy out in LA contacted me. We'd hung out a bit a couple years ago when my brother was last in town, and he liked my writing, so the two of us are now working on a comedy pilot together. He's pretty driven and motivated to get stuff done, which will be nice for me. Normally in writing partnerships I'm the one who needs to push for getting work done.

Then an old coworker of mine asked me to meet him for a drink because he wanted to talk about making a short film together. We talked a bit, then got a couple ideas together that he'd like to develop, so I'll be writing that mostly on my own with his input.

Then today I got a call out of the blue. A few weeks ago I'd responded to a post on my college alumni in entertainment board about young writers who can work on rewrites for a series pitch. I'd totally forgotten about it, until the producer, an alum who mostly works in reality tv, called me up. She has an idea for a show conceived of and written by teenagers, which is innovative and fresh, but she realized that even the most talented teenagers just don't know how to write, so she would like me to take a look at what she has and punch it up/give notes.

So my plate is very full at the moment. On the bright side I do have more quiet hours to myself after work now that Writress is working so late, so I can get writing done then. I may not be able to get through some shows I'm watching or get a chance to play Mass Effect 2 until the summer, but considering I moved out here to be a writer this is probably a good use of my time.

Who knows, this may be a situation in which having so much to do makes me more productive. When I was in high school about 90% of my time was taken up by various activities and projects, and I got a lot done. When college started I had way more free time, and I got even less done. I know myself, and once I start slacking off for a day I really slack off. I get a fantastic slouch going and will plow through an entire season of a tv show in one sitting no problem. When circumstances dictate that I'm always kept busy with something I enjoy doing, I tend to get more done.

Tonight I'm going to go home from work, throw some laundry in, and either punch up my webseries script or continue breaking my Castle spec story (which is taking much more effort than other beat sheets I've done, but I think it's just because there's a more rigid structure to follow).

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hollywood Asst: P.I.

When you first start to work in Hollywood, people tell you that you'll be doing things like, "fetching coffee" all the time, or getting your boss's dry cleaning, or answering the phones...etc. That's not entirely accurate.

I've worked several jobs. I've never picked up dry cleaning, walked a dog, and have only made a run for coffee a couple times (and usually got something for myself while I was at it). What working in this town is really about is getting access to people.

When your boss is a really big and important person, you have everyone's number, and if you don't it takes two seconds to get it. You call someone, they call you back right away. Most people don't have a boss who's that big a deal, and if you did, that boss is likely a nightmare in some other way.

For most of us, it's about getting someone on the phone with someone who can help them in some way to pursue their agenda. Big time agent is calling the big studio head. Producers are calling the big time agent to get a script to their clients. Everyone is getting called by some random person from somewhere out in the world because they have a "great idea for a screenplay".

Since everyone wants something, there's a disincentive to putting your information out in the world where people can find it. Some businesses can't help it, and so their stuff is out there for people who know how to look. But a lot of others don't.

I'd say a fairly large part of my job is trying to find contact information for people we need to talk to, but for some reason don't have their info on file. With the technological advance of cell phones, a lot of these people don't need to have an office number, they just use their cell. But their cell is a personal line. An assistant who gives out personal information gets fired.

So you have to become like a bounty hunter tracking people down. Maybe this is why there are so many cop shows, lots of writers worked assistant jobs and therefore know how to find someone who doesn't want to be found.

Assistants develop resources to find the normally difficult-to-find. They form networks and pool their resources. They spend their meager earnings taking each other out for drinks so that when the time comes that they need a number, they can get it with a wink and a nudge and a "you didn't hear this from me but..."

A lot of the time you come up against someone who just straight up does not want to give anything, and won't even be civil about it. Those people are like talking to a brick wall. You either need to find a way around them, or in some cases, blatantly mislead someone. Once when I said a boss's name the PA on the other end of the line mistakenly thought it was someone who worked at the studio, and so the call was put through. All I had to do was not correct him.

I remain fairly honest for the most part, but there are those of us who do not. And the thing is, we get rewarded for it. We come up with some kind of brilliant/shady way of getting what we want, and it's one of the few times our bosses might say we did a good job.

Really we're just conditioning a town full of idealistic entertainment-lovers to become immoral, backstabbing, selfish pricks. And people wonder why Hollywood gets such a bad reputation sometimes.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Obligatory post-oscars blog entry

I got 14 right in the Oscar pool on my shared ballot with Writress, which is exactly the same as I did last year. The girl who was hosting the party had a weighted ballot system however, which I thought worked well, so we ended up coming in second place, which meant we got our money back.

It wasn't the best Oscar ceremony ever, but it wasn't terrible. I didn't mind how long it ran, but then again I was drinking beers and being a wiseass. It'll be interesting to see how things go next year.

Just found out that a good friend of mine who lives in San Francisco will be coming down to LA coincidentally on my birthday next month. With this and the fact that I'll have Writress around turning 26 is already way better than my 25th birthday was last year.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Just got a raise

I got called into my boss's office at the end of the day today, and both of them were in there. It felt like a performance review or something was coming up, so I got kinda nervous all of a sudden. Then they started asking me about who I thought would win the oscars this weekend, so I thought it might only be a fun office oscar contest kind of thing.

But then they went into a "you're doing a good job, we like you, but you're not perfect" spiel. That had me worried, until they got to their point and let me know that I'll be making a little bit more per week from now on.

Whew...and SCORE!

This is the first real raise I've gotten from any job out here. Even my old job, where I worked for over a year, never offered me one even though I earned it. So I still fall into the "broke assistant" category, but hopefully this will help a lot toward paying down the credit card debt I got when I was unemployed and breathing a little easier when it comes time to pay rent every month.

So hooray for working for actual professionals rather than bullshit wannabe producers who think I should be happy to work for them for free.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

One Year Ago

One year ago I was in my last month at my old job, though I didn't know it at the time. It was also the month that I posted the most on this blog, by far.

A lot of it was bitching and moaning about that job, and how miserable I was there and ready to go. It came from the fact that I was being used as nothing but a peon, and I wasn't learning anything. It was a dead end job, and I knew it, so it became nigh impossible to motivate myself. So I blogged a lot.

Compared to last year, I'm much happier right now. While I'm still a broke assistant, I have a better job. I'm not doing what I want to do long term yet, but I'm learning good stuff, and making contacts that will help me with what I want to do eventually. I have more, better writing samples, and I've been recognized as a talented writer. The asshole that was living in my apartment and treating me like an intruder in my own home is gone now, and especially since we got the dog and started having Sunday dinners we're back to feeling like a surrogate family.

Most importantly, I'm happier because I'm with Writress, and not dealing with the insanity that was MissCrazy. It's been tough the last couple weeks having Writress working such long hours, but we still see each other every day, and we still really enjoy each other's company when we're together. She came over after a late night at work and remarked that one good thing about her job was that she was learning about things we could do if we ever run a show together one day. A year ago I would have gone into a panic if a girl had suggested that kind of long term planning with me. With her, it felt nice. We're going to try and carve out some weekend morning time to set aside for working on our sci-fi pilot idea together, and I'm really looking forward to it.

So to sum up, my life isn't perfect yet. But I feel like I'm on the right track, and I'm certainly not miserable like I was this time last year. My 26th birthday is coming up in just over a month. Hopefully I'll keep making good progress and by the time I'm coming up on 27 I'll feel like I've accomplished something to be proud of out here on my crazy Hollywood adventure.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Projects I'm working on at the moment

During a moment of downtime at work today I stopped to list the various projects I'm working on at the moment.

The Web Series:

I was working on this with my actor friend, but she had to bail. Right now, I'm finishing up the script for the first 5 episodes with my writing group, but this one is pretty much done.

Roommate Supernatural Pilot:

I've been working on a project with my roommate for about a year and a half now. It's hard to find time to work on it, but we have a first draft and we're in the process of tweaking it and getting it ready to go out to people.

Writress Pilot:

Writress and I came up with an idea and broke story for it months ago. Since then we haven't really done too much with it as I was focusing on web series stuff and she was working on a pilot with her own writer's group. We've talked about it, and I think we're going to try to find time to move along to the next step with it when we have a free moment (especially tough with her new job) because it's a kickass idea and I really want to work on something with her. When we first had the idea we had only been going out for a couple months, but we're pretty solid now, and I could even see us as that showrunner couple down the line, so I'm ready to get cracking on it.

Castle Spec:

I had an idea for this a couple weeks ago, and since then I've written my basic thoughts down. I've also started re-watching the first season and reading a few scripts that were already produced to get a better sense of their format and the show's voice. The last time I wrote a spec it was for Heroes, so this will be a very different process (i.e. the continuity changes/80 characters won't make me want to stab my eyes out).

As a bonus, a guy who works on the show has offered to take me on a tour of the set and introduce me to some people, so I'm especially psyched for that.

What this all means:

Things are in good shape, but I need to find some time to work on stuff. Writress's new job might help with that. Before, she was almost never working when I was free, so we spent a lot of time just relaxing with each other, or watching stuff on hulu. Now I have nights when she's still at work after I get home, so I think I'm going to make the most of it and carve out some of that for solo writing time. First I'll finish my webseries (and maybe figure out what I'm doing with it sans actress), then I'll devote my solo energies to the Castle spec.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sister's in town

My sister is in LA. We had a really fun weekend, and I got to take her to some of my favorite places in LA. She got to meet Writress finally, and the two of them seemed to get along really well, which makes me happy. I wasn't really worried that they wouldn't get along necessarily, but in the unlikely event that happened it would have been a shame. Writress is someone I'm pretty serious about, so I'm really glad that I get along with her family and (so far at least) she gets along with mine.

My sister wants to move here, so it's been good for her to be here rather than back east at her college full of spoiled jocky kids. Nobody out there gets what this is all about, so I think it will be very good for her when she's finally free of all that bullshit and able to enjoy herself out here.

She lets herself get stressed really easily, and I've always been one of the people who helps her de-stress and have fun, so I think moving away from home and coming out here with me could be great for her.

Last night my writer's group had a special one night comedy workshop with a couple established comedy writers and some actors to read selections of some of our scripts. I was able to make good contributions and suggestions that even the established guys liked. It was a nice reminder that I'm ready for a big time writer's room. All I need now is to get my stuff ready so that when I find an opportunity I'm prepared to take it.