Saturday, June 28, 2008

Our Way To Fall - Yo La Tengo


You're looking at my future retirement home once I finish with my "lucrative" television career.

Recently someone on Facebook randomly found my profile and would not let up until I dished out brutally honest career advice. And when I saw this sad plea for career advice on Gawker , I couldn't help but to think of my own occupational path and the choices I've made to get there. First of all, silly kid, don't ask Gawker for advice. Those commenters sole existence is to eat you alive (while making me laugh so hard I snort tea through my nose). But as far as television goes. . . it's a tough nut to crack. And so this is my advice to anyone looking to make it in the world of production. This is honest and heart felt, with absolutely no snark. And I have a feeling it translates to most creative occupations.

1. Be prepared to work really hard. We're talking 14 hour days with no over time.

2. Be prepared to sometimes not get paid. Every now and then, that paycheck just doesn't come. (Certain companies are notorious).

3. Be prepared to work on your off hours. For example, yesterday at 9:00am my phone started ringing off the hook for a producing job I have next week. Nothing says "good morning, sunshine", like a conference call with total strangers, who are already caffeinated, jittery and talking over each other. This was not even a billable day.

4. If you do not have a tough skin, this is not the business for you. Plain and simple. I have been called every name under the sun. I hate it, but it's totally desensitized me. Now, I don't care what you call me. Just do your job so we can all go home.

5. Yes, nepotism exists. My Dad works in television as well, we work together about twice a year but if I botch things up, he really can't save my tail. So, if your father/mother/friend isn't at the top of the food chain and you slack off, people will talk. You will not only make yourself look bad but you will drag down the person who brought you on board. And they probably won't hire you again.

Meanwhile, if your father/mother/friend happens to be at the top of the food chain (meaning: executive, owner, director, etc.) and you slack off, your coworkers will hate you, shit talk you behind your back and never invite you to social gatherings. This is true. Being connected helps`, but if you're not working as hard or harder than the rest, you'll get weeded out fast or have a bunch of enemies. . . neither of which is fun.

6. Be nice to everyone you meet. Or at least try.

7. Don't ever think you're above coffee fetching. You. Are. Not. Until you're an executive producer, you're still a glorified coffee fetcher to somebody. . .

8. Write "thank you" cards. It works. Sending presents works too. Someone I know, definitely remembers those who send a nice bottle of champagne around Christmas time. Guess who's at the top of the list to be called for next year's shows?

9. Work can be slow. For myself, as a freelancer, work is generally feast or famine. Meaning I work a lot and then sometimes not at all. It can be depressing. But it will pick back up again. I suggest getting some hobbies, maybe even a part time job and keeping an eye on your spending.

10. TV is a volatile environment. At some point, you'll probably get fired. Or "not called again". Deal with it gracefully. There's other jobs out there and do you really want to work under an asshat?

3 comments:

K.Line said...

Illuminating, E! It sounds like you're great at navigating a challenging field...

love first, and live incidentally said...

I love your honesty. Its best to be that way with your friends about some of these jobs in the arts. Its hard sometimes though, cause from time to time when I don't sugar coat the photo/arts industry, some ppl. look at me like I'm some jaded bitch.

Maria said...

Thats such an amazing picture! - i want to stay in a caravan park like that!! X