Wednesday, June 18, 2014

You People Work On Commission, Right?

If you wish to picture where I am in the food chain of my profession, think of an earthworm. 
The underground, slightly slimy (or sexy depending on what your preference is), creature that does all the work of aerating the soil so that plants can grow happily and bear fruits that bastard birds can get fat on. All the while, dodging the bastard birds, who might fancy a bit o' 'worm for breakfast.
I am said earthworm, making documentary films. The TV Channels are big bastard birds.

Senior earthworm & I went for a pitch-presentation this past week (which is basically earthworms groveling for Bastard Bird jobs using 15 Power Point slides or less). The Executive Producer (representative of Bastard Bird) was a young lady half my age (which comes to 17, so no, she wasn't half my age), who had just smoked a fat doobie of pure corporate power before stepping into the meeting. 
She told us to go get comfortable in a conference room. Once we did, she told us to get out of the conference room, since she hadn't booked it and in fact had forgotten to book one altogether (which is why I say that working from a one-room, airless hovel is so much more convenient. You don't have to book anything. It's all yours, down to the roaches). 
We disconnected our laptops from the projector and wondered where we would journey to next. 
It was the cafeteria, where instead of a projector, was a noisy table of people high on Red Bull. Executive Producer seemed to think they were one and the same thing, so we were told to begin. As soon as we began presenting the idea we'd laboured on for a week and had hoped to pitch in proper style, she developed an urgent need to check and answer every email sent to her since 2005. 
Undeterred, we continued, naively hoping to impress both her and her smartphone.

When we were done, she said some token patronizing things before informing us that hers was a fancy channel unlike the folks we usually work for (government-run national broadcasters) so we would have to step up accordingly. 
At which point, senior earthworm lost his cool and informed her that we'd been in the business since the time she first lost her milk teeth and that we knew what we were doing.
Having suitably annoyed us, the EP left the table. She had succeeded in reminding us that no matter how many awards our films had received, we were still earthworms, while she worked for Bastard Bird.
We would've stormed out immediately but decided to hang around in the fancy office a bit longer because the furniture was so nice and the air-conditioning worked so damn well.

All of it sort of reminded me of Pretty Woman. One day I too hope to be a hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold-who-gets-what's-rightfully-hers:

Shop assistant: “Hello, can I help you?”
Vivian: “I was in here yesterday, you wouldn’t wait on me.”
Shop assistant: “Oh.”
Vivian: “You people work on commission, right?”
Shop assistant: “Yeah.”
Vivian: “Big mistake. Big. Huge. I have to go shopping now.”