So right before I went off on documentary making adventures, Mr. Gilmore and I had a rendezvous back in Tallahassee.
First, to belay any doubts I had when I ended my last recount of our adventures, he did remember me. Joining him was Julie Le Brocquy who produced Osama, an amazing film I saw back in High School.
The Film School was hosting its annual Gala and graduate program graduation, where they screen the 4 graduate thesis films, so Geoffrey was one of the distinguished guests. We also screened Ballast, which is a story worth a separate post.
There was a lot of driving around, some cool (free) lunches and Julie was super cool and super European, which makes her even super cooler.
The highlights? They actually had nothing to do with films or screenings. Frank, the Dean, wanted Geoffrey to have a little relaxation, so we all went to Wakulla Springs – one of the largest freshwater springs in the world and the shooting location for cinema gems such as Creature from the Black Lagoon and Tarzan.
I had never been there before but it was absolutely beautiful. It was also a spoiling first time venture since we chartered a tour boat with only 8 passengers, so I was free to roam to any side to snap some cool pics.
The other highlight? Taking Geoffrey and Julie to the mall. With monopoly money being worth more than the Dollar, to Julie and her Euro, everything in America is practically half off, so she wanted to buy some gifts for her son, whom I became a size model for.
Nothing eventful happened, I just like the image that I’m walking around a clothes store at the Tallahassee Mall with the Director of the Sundance Film Festival.
While doing some film book browsing on Amazon, I caught the release of The Hollywood Assistants Handbook and ordered myself a copy. It wasn’t long before everyone in school was reading a copy. After all, we’re filled with FHPPs (that’s Future Hollywood Power Players for you film muggles).
If you want to work in the entertainment industry, especially the business side, this should be in the top 5 books to read. It’s quick, entertaining, and pretty informative. Like everything you read, you’ll need to filter out the eyebrow raisers from the head-nodders, but this has more good tips than bad. Here are 5 to get you going on your path to a HPP.
- 10-20-10 Rule – One popular entry level job is a Script Reader, where you read through the piles of scripts producers receive and decide if it’s worth their time to read. I’ve always wondered how anyone could go through piles of scripts (most of which are terrible) and no go insane. Here’s how. Read the first 10 pages, skim for 20, and read the last 10. Brilliant.
- Write thank you letters after you interview, and especially after someone does something for you. No email, a handwritten note.
- You’re not curing cancer. If a job nightmare occurs, just repeat that to yourself.
- If you get some crazy request from your boss, the hotel concierge is your friend. Just tell them your boss is a guest and hand over the task.
- Intentionally mess up. Yes, screw something up. Nothing big or disastrous. Why? To move up. You want to be a little forgetful or undependable so you don’t become indispensable to your boss, because then you’re stuck forever. Your boss will want you to move on to bigger and better things so they can replace you.
Like I said, not everything in the book might be a great idea. I’m even cautious of some of the things I mentioned above. But it’s definitely worth a read.
To continue my tail of un-hiring woes, we must first go back a few months to the first time I drove Geoffrey Gilmore around.
As I said in summation, driving Geoffrey around brought me a lot closer to Paul Cohen, an independent distributor ((That means he buys films and releases them in theaters, on DVD, etc, with the idea being he makes more money back than the purchase price.)) who is the business side of show business in one man.
I guess I did a good job with Geoffrey because Paul really seemed to like me. Over the next few months (the Geoffrey chauffeuring was back in February), we met and had coffee a few times and finally had a ‘thank you’ dinner.
Paul moved to Tallahassee not to leave the business but to move to a less expensive town, so he’s starting up a new distribution company in conjunction with the school to serve as a learning environment for the business side of filmmaking.
He asked if I wanted to intern and work on distributing and marketing real movies. How about ‘yes.’
So to skip a bit, and because we’re under non-disclosure agreements so I can’t talk about it much, there’s about eight of us interning, working in a separate building virally marketing the Germs biopic What We Do Is Secret.
You can see some of my handy work if you search for the What We Do Is Secret group on Facebook (over 400 members) as well as some write-ups on music blogs.
Oh yes, this internship also involves a trip to the Toronto Film Festival.
Remember almost a year ago when I got that job to run the school’s TV station? Well that ended. I got fired (sort of). By 30 people.
For a little recap, I got hired as the General Manager of the on-campus TV station. The station was a mess – no consistent schedule, terrible PSAs played between films, lots of equipment that wasn’t allowed to be touched, and no online presence.
So I made the schedule consistent, with movies playing on the quarter hour and getting varied play at different hours.
I made a deal with the Film School to play old student films in between movies.
After months I finally convinced the Director of Student Affairs to restart original programming, and started recording lecturers who came to campus.
Only 6,000 students get the channel while 40,000 attend the school, so online content was a must. I started a YouTube channel and Facebook group to get things going.
I even got funding for a second channel to play documentaries and anticipated student programming.
So when I had to reapply it didn’t really cross my mind that there would be an issue. A new President and cabinet had been elected, so I interviewed with the new Chief-of-Staff.
What she would later call a thorough interview lasted about five minutes and were questions from a form that had gems such as “what’s your weakest trait?” (Giving people more credit than they deserve)
In Student Government world, once you get forwarded by the executive branch (Chief-of-Staff), the Senate Internal Affairs (IA) committee interviews you and forwards you to Senate, where Senate votes and you’re given the job.
So I was kind of surprised when I didn’t get a call from Senate to setup the IA meeting. It wasn’t long before I found out I wasn’t forwarded and instead it went to someone who’d been vying for my job for a long time.
The worst part was I found out from an email from the chair of Internal Affairs asking me questions about the applicant. The applicant who wasn’t me.
To skip the boring bits, the IA chair started investigating, talking to people, and learned that the job was much more technical than the description described.
He said he supported me, but for some unknown reason they still forwarded her. End of story? Nope, just getting started (just to clarify, the point of IA is to filter out candidates so Senate doesn’t have to. Senate is kind of a rubber stamp).
He still supported me, so at the Senate meeting that week, where she was supposed to be forwarded as the candidate of choice from IA, which he runs, he would speak out against her and say she should not be forwarded (it’s been years since Senate has not forwarded a candidate).
When Senate got started, the newly elected President (whom I’ve never met) gave a speech basically saying things need to change, old people need to go, and Senate should approve whoever he wants. Yes, this kind of defeats the purpose of checks and balances, but we won’t go there.
He was riding on the back of Obama’s change craze, even though I had only been there a few months and, you know, done a lot of change. Oh, he also said they thoroughly interviewed me. Again, five minutes. I didn’t even finish my cappuccino.
The candidate was brought up and questioned. They asked what she would do with the station. Here’s where we differ – she told them what they wanted to hear while I told what was realistic.
She was going to have three shows a week, contests, advertisers – a real NBC. Good luck with that ((My goals, if you were wondering, was a stronger online presence, some original programming, and more guest speakers)).
They even had my adviser answer some questions. Sad to say, but he undersold what I did.
Even more sad was I wasn’t allowed to defend myself.
After about an hour of pro/con debate they went to a vote. Keeping with precedence (and not making a change), they forwarded her.
So I wasn’t fired, per-se. I just wasn’t rehired. By 30 people.
But as someone says, things work out. I have a new, better position now that would have required me to leave anyways. And could things really get worse than a room of people voting against you?
And for the record, I don’t hold this against Barack. Despite my grandparent’s wishes, I still like him.
I know I just finished writing about my adventures with Gilmore, but that happened a few months ago.
Well, Geoffrey is back and I’m driving him around again. I’ve gone up from a Dodge Caravan to a giant Suburban (9 MPG!).
Stay tuned, because more adventures are about to happen.
(And a shout out to all the film schoolers who’ve discovered C&C)
This is the last adventure that involves driving Geoffrey Gilmore (the Director of the Sundance Film Festival) around Tallahassee, Diet Cokes, private jets, The Visitor, tea, a 4 AM flight, and of course, coffee. Part one Part two, Part three, and Part four.
Saturday I got a little taste of the “geography is not a factor” Hollywood life. With the Dean out of commission from the University President’s dinner, I had to drive Geoffrey and Paul to Flightline, a private jet terminal. I didn’t even know Tallahassee was big enough to justify private jets, but I guess the Senators like to arrive in style.
Geoffrey and Paul were going to a film festival near Tampa to see a film Geoffrey’s nephew was screening. Of course IÂ hoped they would ask if I wanted to fill the Dean’s seat, but it didn’t happen.
To burn some time before the flight, we went to the on-campus Starbucks. I know Starbucks is pricey, but I didn’t know it was possible to spend $70. Paul bought some of the CDs at the counter. “I don’t think anyone has ever bought those before,” remarked the Barista. I wouldn’t imagine $20 CDs were a hot sell with college students. They just needed a student to bring someone like Paul in.
I feel like I redeemed myself with conversation talk during this coffee-break (tea for Geoffrey). We talked about the design of the campus and Tallahassee, which isn’t very impressive. No career talk or “what do you want to do” questions.
After coffee, I drove them to the Flightline building. Inside there was no line, no security. Just a sliding door that goes straight to the tarmac. They told me they would call when leaving Tampa, so I was free for the day.
I found ways to keep myself busy, but as the estimated pick-up time approached (11 pm), I kept getting calls from Paul saying they were going to be a little late. One of the advantages of hiring a plane is they wait for you.
They didn’t leave until around 1 AM, so they arrived at 2 AM. But here’s the fun part. Geoffrey’s flight back west left at 6 AM. So after dropping him off, we arranged to meet at 4:30. Going home would just be too tempting for sleep, so I occupied myself at All Saints Cafe, our 24 hour beatnik coffee house.
I did doze off, and woke up at 4:25, just in time to rush over to the hotel. I honestly don’t remember what we talked about on the drive to the airport, but Geoffrey was thankful for all the driving.
Our goodbye was better than the introduction, with a proper handshake and a “I’ll probably see you around” from me. I drove home and crashed, fortunately in that order.
In retrospect, I wonder how I could have used this situation to a career advantage. I just didn’t want to be that guy that pushes a copy of his script or talks about himself every chance he gets. If anything, this experience brought me a lot closer to Paul Cohen.
So no, I didn’t get some mega deal or an ‘in’ into Sundance. But I think I was memorable. I’m the guy that picked Geoffrey Gilmore up from the airport at 2 AM and drove him back at 4.