Monday, September 15, 2014

Haters Gonna Hate.

A colleague who I work with on occasion called me up the other night, his voice nvervous and laced with concern.

"Do you have a minute to talk?"

"Sure..." I cautiously say. I know he's not calling me for work and therefore, not sure what kind of news he's about to drop on me.

"Well, first off," he starts before he takes a deep breath, as if he's trying to calm himself down, "I think you're awesome."

"Oookay...." I'm still not getting what he's going for, but I'm starting to get nervous, too. Whatever it is he's trying to say, it must be pretty bad.

"But..." he continues, pausing a bit to gather up some courage to soldier on, "I heard some stuff about you that I thought you should know."

More silence.

I'm getting anxious and frustrated at this point. If it's bad news about me, I wanted to know and I wanted to know now. There's no need to sugar coat it for me. I like my band-aids ripped off fast.

"For Pete's sake, stop worrying me and just spit it out."

"Okay," he said, taking one last breath. "Some guys I worked with today were talking about you. They were saying stuff like you don't know what you're doing on set, you flirt with everyone, and you're lazy, and you don't pull your weight and stuff..."

More silence.

"Is that all?" I calmly ask.

"That's the gist of it. I just wanted to let you know what's being said about you because I don't agree with them at all, but maybe you can be more aware of how you behave on set, you know? Like, watch who you hang around with and make sure you point out to the guys what work you're doing. Stuff like that."

"Um.... Okay...."

"I'm just saying, don't give them any more fuel for their rumors. Like I said, I think you're good and I don't want what they're saying to get around and sully your reputation."

I respond to his thoughts with a chuckle. "Thanks for the call and I appreciate the concern, but I'm not too worried about it."


"Yeah. Really."

And I mean it, too. The way he started the conversation had me thinking the worst while this was really just almost... pedestrian. 

I didn't even badger him to tell me who he was working with that day. Partly because 1) I know he probably wouldn't spill but mostly because 2) there have always been rumors about me.

I've heard tales about how I'm lazy, clueless, and shamelessly flirt with everyone in sight, and about how I won't do this, won't do that, etc, and all while planting my butt at crafty. Some which may or may not be true. I don't know. I don't judge my own work; I simply do the job the best I can.

But I've also heard some pretty off the wall rumors. Apparently, I'm a lesbian; I'm asexual; I've been through a horrible divorce recently; I own a motorcycle; I've been hired on a job only to refuse, REFUSE, to do any work when I get there; etc.

Right. Sure. That sounds like me. NOT.

I understand why anyone would be freaked out about rumors like that circulating around about them. Hollywood is a lot smaller than it seems and word can travel fast. Whether true or not, a few unfavorable words uttered when your name comes up can lead to being unemployed for a while. Even if you've never met some of these people, your reputation can easily precede you. Unfair, yes, but that's reality.

But as concerned my colleague was for me and my reputation, I found the whole situation to be more amusing than anything else. Because despite whatever is being said about me, I'm still working.

And not only am I still working, but I've been working. I haven't had a week without work (Holidays excluded) since I last summer and that was only because I chose not to work. Not only have calls for work increased for me every year since I started in this business, but the jobs have been getting better as well with no signs of stopping any time soon. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but as I'm writing this, things are falling into place that would have me working for the next several months before I get another chance at some R&R.

So I think I must be doing something right.

My colleague also expressed concern that he didn't want those rumors to squash my chances of advancing to bigger and better things in this business (isn't he sweet!), but I told him I doubt it would. Because the funny/interesting thing is, as I've been getting bigger and better jobs over the past few years, the rumors I've heard about myself have also escalated. The more work I get, the more ridiculous the rumors and/or the more rampant they've become. And yet, I'm still progressing in my field with each job being a step above the last, so go figure. I don't know if it's because the woman transcends the myths or if it's because I've been floating from one crew to the next at such a rate that the rumors haven't caught up to me, but whatever it is, it hasn't closed any doors for me yet (that I'm aware of, anyway).

And sure, I guess I could try to limit what's being said about me by not visiting crafty or not "flirting" with the prop guys, but if I've learned anything about human nature over the past few years, it's that with some people, if it's not one thing, it's another. They'll complain about how cheap the caterer is on one show, and then complain about how production is spending too much money on food and not enough in other areas on the next show. I may be "hanging around crafty too much" now, but I can also be seen as "having an eating disorder" if I visit the snack table less than often. Now, I'm "flirting with every department," but if I change my ways, I can be seen as "anti-social and doesn't get along with everyone."

Some people will just bitch and moan to anyone about anything. In fact, guys on set have been some of the gossipiest bitches I've seen since the girls' bathroom in Jr. High.

And even if I do "watch myself" on set to try to limit what's being said about me, what am I supposed to do about all the other stuff that comes out of left field? Okay, hearing that I have a motorcycle made me sound kind of bad-ass, but never once have I shown up for a job only to refuse to do it. Or been divorced. Or even married, for that matter. Or even bring up my personal life on set.

It just goes to show that they'll probably always be rumors about me, no matter what I do. That's one of the (many) downsides of being a woman in a male dominated business. It puts an invisible target on your back. Everyone will put you under a microscope and people will talk about you.

If it's not one thing, it's another. And if it's not me they're talking about, it'll be someone else.

Hollywood likes to talk, which can be scary since a lot can ride on your reputation in this town. But you can't stop people from talking and I can't/won't/don't want to change who I am just to try to please them. And I can tell you right now, there is no pleasing them.

As the saying goes, haters gonna hate. And the only thing I can do about it is take a cue from my girl Taylor...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Importance Of Saying Goodbye.

Shows can be a magical place to work. You cram some awesome people together in a centralized location for twelve to fourteen hours a day and some fun will be had, no matter the situation. Some of my best memories are from working on low budget shows and/or remote locations and/or shooting through the night.

It's often not the work that makes this job worthwhile, but the people involved with it.

On the last day of the show I was on recently, I found out that it was also the sound mixer's last day ever in this business. He was officially retiring when they called "wrap." As he was packing up his gear for the last time, I asked him, after working in this business for most of his life, what was he  going to miss the most? He paused what he was doing and looked at me thoughtfully.

"You know, I don't think I'll miss the hours we do, or the shows, or even the work itself. It's the people that I'll miss most of all." And with that, he gave me a kiss on the head, gave me some final words of wisdom, and quietly walked out that stage door for the last time.

While we weren't particularly close, he was a part of my life for several months. And his departure was even more meaningful to me because we got to say goodbye.

All too often, I make these connections with these fun and awesome people,* and at the end of the day/show/and even scene, we gather our things and disappear into the night with hardly a look back. When they call wrap, everyone's in such a hurry to clear out of there that before you know it, you're in your car, alone, and you never got to exchange one last joke with the prop guy or high five the on set dresser one last time. Those little things that seem like nothing, but are really what aknowledges that a bond was formed and that it meant something to the both of us.

It sucks not being able to say a proper goodby. I makes me feel like I'm lacking a sense of closure. That we've been through such long days and grueling work without as much as a handshake and a "see ya around" makes me sad.

Sure, the flowing nature of this business means there's a good chance I could see them again down the road, but it could be years, or even decades down the line, if at all. And who's to say we'll even remember each other by then?


I guess what I'm trying to say is that at the end of the day/show/career, what we take away from it all isn't the show itself, but the people we spent the time with. The people we got to know. Shared jokes with. Broke bread with. Rode in pass vans with. A sense of camraderie is shared and when it's over, the relationships we form don't always get the proper ending they deserve. It just fades away as if it meant nothing at all...

Endings like that have never sat well with me. And the day it does is the day I shouldn't be doing this anymore. Because when all is said and done, it's not the shows we make, the hours we work or even the work we do that we take away with us.

It's the people that make this business worthwhile.

* And I'm talking about the good people here. Not the inevitable asshole(s) on every set.
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