Moving to Los Angeles was one of the biggest decisions I've made in my entire life. I was a kid fresh out of college with big dreams and a decent chunk of ambition. I always wanted to be a writer, producer, and even perform what I created. Looking back, I never thought I'd end up in the reality where I currently reside.
I'd been working as a freelance production assistant in TV, films, and commercials since I moved almost two years ago. Quickly, I was growing tired of the disrespect, illegal hours, lack of drug use I'd been warned about, and lack of personal satisfaction this was getting me. A thorough love of unemployment crept up, but other than that I preferred commercial work over anything else. The reason? Less time, more money. My life was coming together so nicely.
I was working a commercial for a brand of cheese awhile ago. (Yes, cheese. Didn't you read the title?) I was standing on set, in the baking heat of the south bay, when the shot they were setting up was ready. Bored, I looked around at all my coworkers faces that were genuinely interested, actually serious about what was happening.
I always understood yet never empathized with the brotherhood, gang mentality of people in this industry. Although other professionals have a hard time understanding what we do and go through, I never formed that "I'm better than you, do you know what I do? I work in the movies, bitch!" mentality. Because who gives a shit? I'm not a doctor, I don't save lives. I'm not the president, I can't change laws to better people's well-being. I'm not Pamela Anderson, I can't make the world smile with the flash of just one boob. Those are things to brag about. Just as I thought that, the director yelled "action!"
I would like to preface this by saying I never read scripts of anything I work on before hand. I don't care what it's about because with what I personally do, it kind of doesn't matter. (A blessing and a curse.) The director prompted the scene. As I watched on, in horror, four grown men lifted pieces of huge, fake cheese in front of their faces and started dancing around, jumping up and down. And then it hit me - my life has no meaning. This is what I must partake in to pay my bills. By my choice (I use the that term loosely), I put myself in the presence of people who would rather critique the jumping and wiggling of said grown men than to laugh at the absurdity of the situation or the fact that someone was paying good money to have these men do this. No bragging rights belong to me, sirs and madams.
It made me think back about all the ridiculous material that has been shot in my presence. Let alone the ridiculous things I've had to do for it behind the scenes. I've had to follow around/ document an orangutan's every action (including pooping on a conveyer belt), help collect a DP's dirty underwear to be cleaned because he didn't feel like it, have a stand off with a bobcat (a real, unplanned bobcat) while being a stand in, track down the correct concealer for a male television host, and drive a 15 pass van in circles for twelve hours straight. I love coming home at Christmas, fresh off a commercial about a new milkshake (who was treated with more respect that I) and have people bubble about how "glamorous" my life must be. I realize people don't know, but it makes you feel like a shit head for wanting to shake them and let them know that their jobs are a slice of George Clooney's ass next to yours. So I tell them my stories about when I see famous people (like a drunk Kate Walsh, Tiger Woods making fun of me, or that one time my friends assaulted Lance Bass from N*Sync) because that's all they really want to know about anyway.
Was it worth it to live through this crap to get where I wanted to be? I supposed it was but continued my pity party internally while everywhere else in the world there was hunger, war, and poverty.
Later at a party I retold my day with disgust fueling my enthusiasm. Someone said "You know? You should be a writer. You should write this down. All these crazy stories might be real inspirations."