Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Fatty Birthday to Me

Last blog (and more than a few before that) was all about work.

I'd take the perilous dead tree bridge over the 10 East any day.
But I'm happy to say that this week it's all about play!

Careful, those apples will seriously sneak up on you.
I haven't necessarily slowed down recently so much as I've just worked harder to even out the work-to-fun ratio. It's easier than ever to justify because I just celebrated my 23rd birthday yesterday. Yup, ol' J-Mil's the big two-three... I'm finally entering the adult version of awkward adolescence. It's like turning 13 but knowing how to be existential about it.

So this weekend I've peppered in a few fun celebrations. Among the best was a little affair last Friday evening at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, which I'd never been to before. They were having a special late-night event called Night Dive.

Casually nodding to a Beatles song near YOU.
The poster for the event was disappointingly deceptive... I was very unhappy to be told by aquarium personnel that I would not in fact be allowed to drop acid and drive a submarine around the deep sea tank. 

Still, it was a pretty grand event on the whole. It was cool to go to an aquarium at night, especially when said aquarium was filled with art vendors, live bands and booze. I went with Casey and our Long Beach native friend Alana. Once we arrived in downtown LB and got our tickets, we grabbed dinner at the little cluster of food trucks parked outside the aquarium for the event. Once inside, we got to check out all the different aquarium exhibits, learn about how we're killing whales, and even touch sharks!

YES, I touched a mother-flippin' shark. Several in fact. Mostly tiger sharks and baby hammerheads. They were just swimming around in the tide pools like it wasn't no big thang. Fun fact: sharks are actually very soft!

Know how I know that?

I touched a fuckin' shark.

Another interactive highlight of the trip was touching jellyfish. Which is neither as painful nor sexual as it sounds. The aquarium had a little tank set up and you could ("gently") bop 'em on their little jelly domes. I would've given anything to do the same with my new favorite sea creature and possibly animal of all time: lumpsuckers. 

For your reference:

Looks like a jive lumpsucker to me.
It's a chunky little fish with suction cup feet that it uses to "perch" on rocks. Like. What? How did I not know this was a thing?

Lumpsuckers defy science.
My heart just about melted. Likewise, my brain melted when the last performing band came on out of nowhere with a bunch of sick music and terrifying identical lumberjack masks. They call themselves "Fartbarf"... I fartbarf you not.

If I saw these guys on the street I would fartbarf my pants.
Despite what the name might suggest, they're actually a pretty talented, high-energy band with great heavy electronic dance beats and just enough pop in the mix to keep you from running in fear from their masks.

Their sound hits a lot heavier live, but you get the idea. It's the kind of music I would love to take back to people in the 1800s just to fuck with them.

The aquarium apparently hosts a bunch of special events, so it may be worth visiting again in the future. I think I just need an excuse to giggle at little baby lumpsuckers.

My mom and sister also came up over the weekend to celebrate my birthday. We didn't do anything too crazy, though I got to have birthday dinner at a great place that already has a ton of clout but which I will promote anyway: Cafe Gratitude. Oh my nom. Where swanky meets vegan meets delicious. This is a 100% organic vegan restaurant that defies all "leaves and twigs" accusations about vegan diet. This food is INCREDIBLE. 

And incredibly photogenic.
And it doesn't hurt that the waiters compliment you based on what you order. For instance, when I ordered the "humble" with a fresh-squeezed "divine," the waiter wrote my order down, gazed into my hungry fat-ass eyes, and said, "You are humble and divine."

"Thanks, I know right?" I responded just before ordering him to bring me a Q-tip to clean out my belly button.

I finished my meal with a coconut cream pie that was better than it looked.

Isn't that vegan food just miserable?
In terms of other birthday treats, I spent my actual birthday evening at Writer's Blok, where the group organizer Paul got me a banana cream pastry with a candle in it. There's something about being handed sugary treats in front of a bunch of strangers who don't get one that really makes you feel special. I also got M&M cookies and a California Pizza Kitchen giftcard from my boss... no, not my full-time job boss who I told about my birthday multiple times and who didn't once say happy birthday to me yesterday, but rather from my writing program boss who I didn't once bring up my birthday to. You know, the one I'm leaving. *face palm*

Well, this birthday bitch is going to milk the surrounding birthday days for everything they're worth. If you need me I'll be celebrating how great it is that I am alive. You're more than welcome to do the same, from the comfort of your home.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How to Create a Resume that Won't Make People Hate You

Recently I've had to go through countless resumes and email applications for people interested in being on the upcoming film at my work. We have tons flooding in because we're essentially staffing an entire production right now. We're looking for a Production Designer, 1st AD, 2nd AD, Production Coordinator, Script Supervisor, Wardrobe, Hair, Make-Up... as I'm sure folks reading the Craigslist ad gathered, we are so totally and completely prepared for this movie to happen in four and a half weeks.

Never in a million years did I think, at least at this juncture in my life, that I would be reviewing resumes... I figured I'd be submitting them. For all I know that may soon be on the horizon. And sure, I know I'm not the hire-r, but I've been granted some insight on how application screeners do their thang.

Thus, for once-blog, I'm going to actually try and impart what I hope to be useful information about creating a resume that won't make people hate you. A lot of it feels obvious to me, but I've been annoyed by enough submissions to sense that these are #realworldproblems.

Since I am giving advice, I want to slide in the disclaimer that this is all based solely off my own experience, in what may very well be an unconventional job setting, and may or may not apply only to film/tv. Maybe beekeepers read resumes differently, I wouldn't know.

I like my resumes like I like my women.
Here goes.

1. Make it easy. All the other tips pretty much roost beneath this one. Because if somebody has to read forty resumes, why would they feel compelled to take any extra steps towards reading yours? If it's too much work, they've got 39 other resumes to scope out for that one position you're all applying for. So make it easy.

How does one do that, you ask...?

2. Use less words. Your resume should look like a kindergarten handout. Your reviewer wants to know exactly what your experiences are within three seconds of looking at your resume. It makes them feel smart. Don't do what I did, which is bog down every "description of duties" with a buncha wordy jargon my schools' career center told me to include. Just be straightforward. You didn't "execute the proper sanitary maintenance of business utilities," brah; you washed dishes. Ain't nobody got time to figure out what work task you're trying to glorify.

Senior Mopper of Khol's Lavatorial Facilities
3. Don't hide the stuff that they use to contact you. I seriously have to scroll to page xxvii of the addendum to your "Special Skills" section only to find out you just gave me your website and the city you live in? You ass! You royal, royal ass! I was GONNA call you, but now I'm not, because I have no easy way to do that and even if your resume looked good, chances are it wasn't so mind-blowingly special that I or anyone else would make the extra effort.

On that note--

4. Stop after 2 pages. 1 page is perfect. It's easy to hold and look at and digest, and I don't have to staple anything. 2 pages is okay, but anything beyond that is just you wasting paper and pixels. Employers only need to get an idea of what you've done, not follow the exciting chronicles of the six different houses you plant-sat for in high school. Just show the range of what you can do.

Make your resume a flight of your skills.
That's not to say you shouldn't hype up what you're good at if you have a crap ton of experience. I'm more likely to pay attention to the 1st AD who has 1st ADd on eight different films versus the 1st AD who has three 1st AD credits listed but has also gaffed, composed scores, and directed. Don't do what I did and buy into the career center mind-garbage of "show them the versatility of your skills." Sure, why not show you can do other stuff, but don't let it replace the relevant experience... or stretch your resume out to 4 pages.

5. Submit a flipping resume. Apparently it isn't common knowledge that you're supposed to do this when applying to a job. So many people have just sent links to their personal websites an IMDBs. These are helpful, but as supplements, not the whole enchilada.

6. Don't try to impress anyone with your "fun" website interface. So many people recently- especially these goddamn artsy fartsies- get frilly "attention-grabber" websites that are like Prezis. There's catwalk background music, an opening animation of a dancing camera, and everything your mouse hovers over ripples like a pond. These efforts are SO pointless, apart from just being obnoxious. My computer freezes when I open some of these websites! And it's the world's most exasperating waste of time if every button I click on hops three times and morphs into a flower before I get to the next page. These allegedly innovative pages may look super-trippy-cool when you're showing all your friends the free website you made, but it comes off as dumb.

7. Make yourself printable. For resumes submitted online, and photographers/art people especially. If someone wants to print out your picture portfolio to look through, that's awfully hard to do when your pictures are in some fancy Wix photo slideshow that only shows them one at a time. Just have a page where they're all lain out. Stop me from destroying the planet by printing 50 weird-ass screenshots of your website instead of 3 clean grids of photos. Es logico, no?

So there you have it. I guess.

I think I just bored myself to death, but hopefully one or two of you out there benefited from this is some way. As for the rest of you, I gave you a picture of an enchilada, I really don't know what else you want from me.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Night of the Night-And-Day Shift

It's 8am. You're sitting on the outdoor patio of a Panda Express, stabbing disinterestedly at your Surf n' Turf panda bowl, minding your own business. You look out to the horizon.

You drop your chopsticks.

For there, silhouetted in black against the smoggy luminescence of the LA sunset, you see the vague shape of a figure coming towards you. You can't see much, only hear the heavy dragging of feet and the slow, growling exhales divided up by shallow inhales.

You squint and lean forward to get a better look. You don't even notice that the homeless man who's been watching you ever since you sat down has inched your styrofoam box of half-eaten chow mein away from you and is now eating it by the dumpsters. The ever-nearing figure draws closer and you can just begin to make out details.

Phew! You wrinkle your nose as the sensory details kick in. First of all: the thing smells. It smells like poop. Like sour, sour horse poop. And undertones of some other chemical odor.

After wiping the welled tears from your eyes, you can see more details. The nature of the thing is hard to make out as it is wearing loose, baggy clothing that renders it biologically neutral. But there's still plenty that you are able to distinguish.

A pair of dead, half-open eyes with deep lines cut below them.
Stringy, stuck-out hair that either avoids or eats hairbrushes.
Pale skin covered in splotches of colors and glue.
And all of this is coated in a conspicuous amount of dirt. Dirt in its fingernails, its ears, its armpits, its nostrils-- not one crevice of cleanliness.

You gasp.







Howdy y'all, I have all but returned from the dead since the recent wrap of this Chapman film. A little under two weeks of shooting, two weeks of prep before that, and now two weeks of therapy as I gather up the shattered remains of my daily routine. 

First reactions to thinking about the shoot: it was a lot of fun. The cast and crew were all primo individuals and a genuine pleasure to work with. It was nice having our set be in the pleasantly still and unobtrusive rural zones of Chino Hills-- while the hour and a half commute from Santa Monica was a force to be reckoned with, I must say the drive got prettier and prettier the further east I went. Weaving through the hills and little residential bubbles was a nice break from the clusterfuck of Los Angeles. Not to mention the ranch was pretty great, too. I liked it mostly because I never felt spooked when I had to walk around in the dark at 4am. Who got time for a haunted ranch?

The ranch was pleasant and made for many "stop and wonder at the world" moments. Which were swiftly interrupted by the sound of my phone snapping artificial memories.

And God said, "Let there be dirt." And there was.
Just envision Judy Garland sitting on that fence.
All in all, I guess you could say it was a
Nailed that one.

But for all the good times I had, there was just as much stress and anxiety to handle. We shot on the ranch at all hours of the (everything but) day, call times often starting early evening and ending at 4 in the morning. It was exhausting, but the adrenaline of enjoying being on set kept me awake. Except for when it didn't and I fell asleep on a piece of ram board.

The typical work day on a film set is 12 hours which, thanks to our kick-ass 1st AD, was never breached on this shoot. But no matter if we were working 12 hours or 6 hours, at least 8-10 hours of my weekday were spent working at my job in Santa Monica. So here's how a good two or three weeks of my life went:

Drive to Chino Hills. 
Get on set at like 4am. 
Prep for 3 or 4 hours. 
Drive an hour and a half to Santa Monica. 
Work for 9 hours. 
Go out and gather more props, or else draw diagrams, create schedules, read/write zillions of production e-mails, or go back on set to shoot for another 8 hours.
Maybe sleep for 3 hours. 


My life was utterly consumed by work. Every minute was dedicated to the movie or hanging on to my current job. It was absofruitly nuts. I didn't contact the outside world for days; people thought I was dead or blowing them off. My bed was stacked with last week's clean laundry that there was no time to fold. At one point I was so sleep-deprived driving home from Chino that I pulled over into a residential neighborhood in West Covina and slept in my car for two hours before heading to Santa Monica for work the next day.

Am I crazy? Yes. Did I pull it off? Sort of. Was it worth it? You bet.

While I'm exceedingly happy that I once again have time for the little luxuries in life, like making food and changing my underwear, this was a positive experience. Not necessarily the juggling-two-jobs part, but the fact that the challenge was tackled and I can safely say I did the most that I was able. And honestly, I like being on set a hell of a lot more than printing TV sides and being told on a regular basis that what I do isn't enough. Film production is fun, no matter how hard the work. That's how I know it's the industry I want to spend my life working in. Where else can my work-related duties include:

-Designing an entire kitchen, living room, and bedroom... without using my own money!
-Collecting cool dishes and knick-knacks and arranging them
-Drawing copies of a 10 year old's doodle to have on standby
-Writing multiple fake suicide notes (apologies to the director for the nonsense scribbled on those...had I known we were doing long close-ups I might not have included that stuff about demons)
-Hiding a TV mount with a cow skull 
-Loading hay onto a golf cart and using my body like a human bungee cord to keep it all held on as we transported it from one site to another
-Dressing a fake corpse
-Building a tire swing
-Figuring out how to piece a fake axe together on about 5 separate occasions
-Watching two male cats lezz out with each other


Now that I write them out I realize these things may not necessarily sound like "a blast," but that's exactly what I was having throughout the process. And especially getting to play the part of Production Designer, it's awesome to get to see the products of your work so immediately. If you don't mind me sharing--

Kitchen: for kitchen scene.

Living room: for living room scene.

Tire swing: for zombie pirate hooker scene.
 The only part that really, truly sucked was moving large and heavy furniture around on the world's most scratchable  floor. Have you ever lifted a wood stove before? You shouldn't. Buy a goddamn space heater.

You STAY in the corner, Woodrow.
For anyone who's interested, the film has a very talented team behind it and in front of it. While there's still much time to go before the thing is edited together, you can get updates and info on the project at this lovely little corner of Facebook:

It's called "Scarlett" by the way, I feel like I've failed to mention that before. Or any other details about it, for that matter. It's a sort of thriller/drama. It's good. So far. Coming this Spring to a Chapman screening room near you-- or, if you don't live in Orange, 45 minutes to an hour away.

SO. In conclusion, I'm walking away from all this with a positive if not completely exhausting experience under my belt. The vacuum of hard work has literally and figuratively paid off, granting me the freedom to tackle the hard work I already deal with day to day.

Just enough time to rest up before this feature-length project begins production in 6 weeks...