The Timeline (fiction)

The timeline is a space beyond the world. We can go forward and backward. We can witness every option. We can audition every word and every action. The sound waves remind me of when I spent my summers surfing in Baja. The timeline is infinite with endless space before and after. The only limit is your attention. You slowly sculpt and refine the timeline. Collecting your experiences, your influences; notes are just another method of helping you uncover your style. Consistent refinement and smoothing out. Until the Show ends and you move on.

And yet there is a discipline to it; a technical, logical component that must be respected. Without intelligent organization, you will fall into Chaos. Without understanding how the system works, you will be dependent on someone else. There are long late nights alone. The hum of the machines and your thoughts in the darkness of an abandoned office. And there will be times of great collaboration. You and your peers gathered around a conference room table, feeling like you are building the great cathedral in Köln. The Show is life because life is a show. There is nothing else. Before or afterward. So you close the door, hunch a little forward, and focus on the timeline. One cut after another. On and on forever.

In memory of Dave Walker.

Briefly Noted: Notes on Notes (fiction)

Notes on Notes – Poet and junior television producer Miranda Arndt has discovered a new way to read between the lines. Frustrated by the process of receiving barely literate network notes, the highly creative Arndt went on the passive-aggressive and created poetry from prose. Armed with “feedback from network” and a sharpie, she constructs through deconstruction, eliminating the words she doesn’t need to create a new art form. Her work ranges from provocative to lighthearted, and from moving to hysterically funny. The latest creation in a long history of “found art,” Notes on Notes will challenge you to find inspiration from the mundane.

The Hollywood ‘No’ (Humor … sorta)

There is an old adage in Hollywood:

Never say, “No.” Ask for too much money.

I know that it’s easy to be cynical about things like this. But after some consideration a more receptive mind might ask, “Why does a statement like this one exists in the first place?” This post attempts unpack the wisdom of this mischievous expression.

Let us pretend that a colleague calls you on Thursday and says they’d like to hire you to create a dozen graphic elements for their latest project … by Monday. You know this work is going to require endless revisions and ton of work outside usual business hours. You might consider that you have four choices:

  1. Saying “Yes” and completing the project. While this looks like a victory at first blush; “today’s miracle is tomorrow’s expectation.” You’ve effectively screwed future you because now they know how much you’ll do for how little. This is also how you initiate the race to the bottom.
  2.  Saying “Yes” and failing. Saying yes to something and then failing to deliver may seem like the darkest timeline. And to most people it will be. However, if you are savvy, this could be the winningest scenario. A student of Robert Greene’s 26th Law might use failure as an opportunity eliminate an opponent by throwing them under the bus.
  3. Saying “No”. The darkest timeline. Producing is about removing obstacles. When you say, “No.” You become the obstacle and the full bore of the producing team bears down upon you. 
  4. The Hollywood No. “I would love to help you on your amazing project, and although I’m booked, I’d be happy to help you. However, since I’m already booked I’d have to work at twice my standard rate.” For the less Machiavellian this is the safest choice. You appear supportive and if for some reason they agree to your ginormous rate. Well at least your bank account will be the better for it.

Further Reading: Why Hollywood People Never Say ‘No’ The Hollywood Reporter

Briefly Noted: Melissa’s Wayward Home for Television Professionals (Fiction)

Melissa’s Wayward Home for Television Professionals – Caroline Aponte’s delightful debut novel about five reality television professionals who decide to vacation together after their show is abruptly cancelled will leave you smiling after every page. Lured by advertisements of authentically working the land in lush surroundings, the story’s main characters arrive to find their cabin is actually a shell of its former self. Though their vacation is not quite what they had imagined, these professionals find that life and love can begin again when they step away from the computer. With writing that evokes the best of Kerouac and Yates, this charming story will remind you that everyday is a chance to start anew and engage with reality.

Briefly Noted: Previously On (fiction)

Previously On: Portraits of the Entertainment Proletariat – This gorgeous collection of photos curated by famed art dealer Jennifer Duveen presents television production crews at their most vulnerable moments. We witness the key grip pushing a dolly at 3 am Martini Shot just called. We evidence the audio engineer gracefully considering his options wiring a scantily clad enchantress. We empathize with the Production Assistant on his fifth morning coffee run. These portraits challenge the viewer to contemplate the complex dynamic between celebrity and exploitation. By the end of this assembly even the most diehard elitist will be saying, “In Hollywood, we are all proletariat.”