Years ago now, when I lived in Culver City which is not Los Angeles and shouldn’t be considered as such, I worked at a Casting Services studio for a short stint. Very cool slice of entertainment, it was a multi-room casting studio that ran auditions for commercials both small and Majorly McMajor Light. Every now and then there’d be a call for a photo shoot, models… I mean, like… MAAHDULLLZ… would be in there and holy crap, there’s a different level of genetic co-mingling than what most of the world has ever seen and it’s all within a 1-hour drive of Santa Monica, CA.
I wasn’t particularly well-trained for the technical side of the studio. There were a few things I could do, but for the most part what I found was that I didn’t have the time on the system-in-use to really jockey it into position when needed. And I wanted to know that stuff because it makes ya look like a rock star when your boss needs a salad and you deliver a rolling buffet. On this particular day I may have pulled together a fruit leather-like effort. Mostly because, like I said, I was poorly prepared.
That day I was asked to consolidate 3 auditions from 3 actors from 3 sessions of 3 products. Which means they were in different files on the computers, IF the sessions had all been sent to the common server. That shouldn’t be difficult, because I know how to file and name and organize documents and resources in a technical format for logical recall and search purposes. But sweet chocolate Moses, these were spread out ever’where.
And of COURSE there’s a deadline in an hour. And of COURSE the person who wants it gave very little direction as to where it was to be delivered. And naturally, this is for 2 of the biggest accounts the casting director (who heavily influences the client/advertiser) handles. So yeah, there’s some sweat, but as I sat down I was like HELLS YEAH LET’S FIND THESE PEOPLE AND THESE BACKFLIPS AND ACTING LIKE DRINKING A BEER ON A SNOWMOBILE IS SECOND NATURE… and hand this to them at The Ivy in 72min.
No. Fucking. Chance. Impossible. The program I was using was capable of doing that. I wasn’t able to wrangle it to do so, however. I called everybody I could. The guys who created the system (who later I worked for and they are the coolest guys and I hope they stay on their up-trend, because those guys are on the casting frontier), not available as they were probably supporting another client. The guy who normally ran tech, unavailable, possibly stoned or in urgent care at that time, not very healthy for a 22 year-old. The other in-studio experts, all unavailable and off-site doing other stuff. So I’m on a deflating raft and bailing water with one hand and rowing towards shore with the other.
And here’s what didn’t help that day. One person in particular who had absolutely nothing better to do than run in and out of the studio I was in, asking “IS IT DONE? IS IT DONE? COME ON MAN, THIS IS IMPORTANT!” No. No. I know. If you’re not adding, you’re a subtraction.
I remember thinking how little I respected that guy that day. He was the Manager, and he did not have to save my ass, but what he missed was this crucial point to performing under pressure: Had he made the urgent call to get the issue handled by somebody who really knew what was going on, not only would the job get done… HE’D BE DOING HIS JOB AS WELL AS MAKING HIS BOSS LOOK LIKE A PROFESSIONAL.
Instead he took almost a bit of joy in watching me sweat through my shirt while coming in every 7minutes to complain and moan for the completion of the task. Eventually one of the real experts came by for a free beer in the comp’ny fridge and popped in to take over. Turns out one of the files wasn’t loaded to the server so I couldn’t find it anyway. And another session I needed was misnamed so it took him another 15min to find it.
It ain’t like I was SEAL-ing a mission and saving lives, I was just trying to make sure 3 actors got another look for a break in a commercial for processed cheese. But I learned that if you’re gonna lead, there are some things that are so important you just have to do them yourself. You can teach while you do it, but if you can’t teach while you do it, you can’t scold the student for not knowing more than the teacher.
Plus, that guy was an asshole.