|Definitely a recommendation fail...|
It was well into December and the flow of work I'm getting was showing no signs of slowing down. I found it odd as I remember being lucky to get a weeks worth of work around this same time last year and now I was struggling to find a free day just to do some holiday shopping. I chalked it up to my good fortune and timing.* I just happened to get hooked up with some shows that usually needed a few day players and weren't wrapping until dangerously close to Christmas. However, based on the number of other calls I was getting and couldn't take, I figured I wasn't the only one riding a good wave until the end of the year.
But apparently, the season's good tidings wasn't hitting everyone and a friend of mine casually mentioned that he wasn't working and didn't have anything lined up in the foreseeable future. Which I guess seemed normal to him given that this time of year isn't usually known as a busy time in our business, but it struck me as a bit odd since he's almost always working.
So when a guy I knew called me up to see if I was available when I wasn't, I told him that I knew someone who was. "Yeah, sure," he said. "I'm desperate. Have him give me a call and I'll bring him on tomorrow." Sweet. Not only had I helped him fill a spot when he was having trouble finding someone, I had also helped a friend gain employment. Double points for me! Yay! I like being helpful!
But oh, if only the story ended there.
A week or so later, I get a call from the guy again, asking if I was available. I wasn't, but while I had him on the line, I decided to ask him how it worked out with my friend the other day. Unfortunately, his response was less than fantastic.
"Uh... So how well do you know the guy?"
Oh shit... That's never a good sign.
"Um... I know him fairly well," I answered truthfully, yet somewhat vaguely in a thinly veiled attempt to distance myself from the guy. I knew something bad was coming. "We've only worked with each other a few times, but we kind of run in the same circles."
"Oh, okay. Well, the guy not only got into a shouting match with the UPM, but he also re-organized my carts in a bizarre way and had trouble following basic instructions. And not only that, but it turns out that some of the other guys here had worked with him before and not everyone that knew him has had a pleasant experience."
Fuck. From his initial tone, I was expecting a bad review, but definitely not this bad. After a moment of stunned/awkward silence, I realized that there wasn't much I could do now but apologize profusely and try to save my own ass.
"Wow... I'm super sorry. I've never had a problem working with him before. I've recommended him to other crews a few times in the past and it's always worked out. He works on some pretty big stuff and I figured it'd be a good idea for the two of you to meet. Yadda yadda. I'm so sorry. Yadda yadda. Thanks for telling me about this. Yadda. Again, sorry."
I couldn't believe that this guy had fucked up so badly. I mean, I guess I knew what kind of a perfectionist he could be, but I saw that more as a positive than something that would drive him to re-organize a cart full of equipment that wasn't his. And maybe I could even let the lack of following instruction thing slide. Despite him being a veteran of the biz, I can vouch that it can be pretty confusing for a new day player working on an unfamiliar set with an unfamiliar crew, no matter how seasoned you may be. But the biggest part of the SNAFU Trifecta was the yelling at the UPM. Yes, they can be unreasonable, power-tripping, egotistic dicks, but yelling at one is definitely a bad idea; especially if you're a new day player. And ESPECIALLY if you're there based on a recommendation. It's always been a rule in my book that if you're on a job because someone pulled some strings, it means that person has put their reputation on the line for you, and therefore, you better damn well put your best foot forward or at the very least be on your best behavior. Douche bag UPM or not, there was no excuse for what that boy did.
And now, not only did I have to apologize to the Best Boy, but I'm also set up with the awkward task of defending my (apparently poor) decision to send him his way. In no way did I want him leaving the conversation thinking I just blindly sent an asshole to his crew. I wanted him to know that I really did think it'd work out between them and I had actually thought it out instead of just giving him the name of the first guy I knew was available. In other words, I was scrambling to save any kind of credibility I still had with the guy.
Luckily, he seemed to be pretty cool about it.
"Don't worry about it, A.J.," he said, with a slight chuckle that let me know he wasn't taking the incident too seriously. "Yeah, I had some apologizing to do on his behalf, but it's all good here now. Anyway, it's a shame you're not available to come play with us tomorrow but maybe next time."
We said our goodbyes and ended the conversation. It's good to know that while he may never take a recommendation from me ever again (no matter how desperate he may be), at least I still have a solid enough of a reputation with him that he'll still call me for work.
But the other guy? You can bet I'll think twice before throwing his name in the hat again.
*Or perhaps it's a side effect of union negotiations coming up. I hear Producers are trying to shoot everything they can in case another stalemate occurs.