December 22, 2008

The Bush Effect

One of the main arguments for going to film school is to give you time and separation to focus on the medium during your formative years, as opposed to spending much of your youthful energy on a possibly-unrelated day job. And while my job successfully moved me from North Carolina to New York (a necessary step in this site's "starts a film career in New York" storyline), it didn't do so for free: although it paid me monetarily, there's a cost associated with working a job as opposed to going to school... and that cost is time.

Or as I should say, that cost was time. Last Thursday, the entire New York office of Rhapsody -- the MTV and Real joint venture where I was a Senior Designer -- got laid off.

For most of the 500,000 or so employees who lost their jobs in the last month, this is a stressful time of uncertainty. I don't want to be the guy with a smile on his face while everyone else has their head in their hands, but not having a family to support, and being too young to know any better, there in a sea of downturned faces is my Cheshire grin. The way I see it, I didn't get laid off; I graduated. After all, I've spent roughly as much time at this job (31 months) as I would've at film school. Tack on the severance we received and I'll be graduating at roughly the same time of year, and at roughly the same age, as most grad film students would be.

This makes for an interesting self-exam (no, not that kind): would I be better off if I'd spent the last three years as a film student, instead of working a job? There's no way of knowing, of course. Had I gone to a film program at NYU or Columbia, maybe I would've met a great professor, or a great peer collaborator, or directed a student film that opened doors to the industry. And of course I might've seen some amazing films and learned things I haven't on my own.

On the other hand I've seen some amazing films, worked with a great peer collaborator, and made a film on the internet that opened doors to the industry -- all the while working a full-time job. As such, I don't have any student loans to pay off, so financially I'm certainly in a better place.

But who knows; every individual situation is different, and money seems like a pretty ephemeral issue for the film school decision to hinge upon. Despite the URL of this site, it's not actually a question I'm interested in dwelling on endlessly; if someone is motivated to go to film school, they should go.

Regardless, whether I'd gone to film school or not, now is the time when the rubber meets the road: it's time to be a full-time filmmaker. Finally.

This was supposed to be a more to-the-point post announcing the following:

  • I got laid off;
  • Zack and I made it through four or five rounds of layoffs, each time wondering why we were unfortunate enough to still be employed;
  • The West Side is on hiatus;
  • We have another project we've been pitching to studios.

The same day our office was shuttered, another 850 people in the building were laid off. While the reason may seem obvious, I'll quote Viacom in order to smooth out my planned segue: "the cuts are a response to the global economic downturn."

So really, as much as anyone I have George W. Bush to thank for my newfound freedom. If I had to find some additional things from the past eight years for which to thank the outgoing President, I'd thank him for:

  • Running America so far into the ground that the clamor for change was such that a man of Obama's background could be elected President (despite being an incredible candidate and running a superlative campaign, I still don't think he could've won in any other clime);
  • Trashing the economy so thoroughly that reluctant workers like Zack and I, who nevertheless fairly rapidly climbed the corporate ladder based on capabilities, could still get laid off -- consequently receiving severance packages on the way out (thus getting paid while we launch full-time film careers).

Thanks for fucking things up so badly, George -- with crisis comes opportunity. I'd been wanting to leave the day job for quite some time, but in this economy, without funding in place for any projects, I couldn't feasibly pull the trigger. Now, however, I'll be able to work full-time on future projects, and for that I'm truly thankful (and motivated).

Also, without a day job sucking time, I will probably be blogging a bit more; it'll be my break from working on said projects. After all, if I'd spent as much time on a screenplay over the past three years as I have on this blog, surely I'd have a final draft in hand by now. For productivity's sake, maybe I should start nonofilmschool.com... and post nothing.

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There you are, dude. I've been wondering. I could have guessed about The West Side news. No faults for that. Please keep us posted.

December 27, 2008 at 11:30AM, Edited September 4, 10:14AM

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oakhurst