The great thing about having modern, trusting parents is that they will support nearly any career decision you make, no matter how idiotic. “Mom, dad,” I might say, “I’m going to molest poodles onstage in Mexico City,” and the likely response they’d have is, “Drive safe.” But I have truly tested their limits for this behavior with the announcement that I was going to film school, and worse yet – that I am going to graduate. What these poor people don’t really appreciate, however, is that a film degree in Los Angeles ( / Earth) is worth about as much as a down parka. How naive of them to have the expectation that if you spend $80,000 on something, you should probably get something in return. Please. “So, will there be offers on the table the day you graduate? Are there job fairs? How do the actually go about hiring you?” they want to know. Their earnest belief that my degree will generate work creates almost palpable humiliation, but the silver lining is in the outrageous pack of lies I get to tell them to hide the truth – that I will soon be delivering $15 salads to people who spent their money on worthwhile investments: Boob jobs.
“I’m in direct contact with a well-known player in the independent scene,” I said of an actor I saw in theater production at a comic book store. “He’s really multifaceted, so I think we’ve got a shot at getting something produced.” “Do you get paid in a normal salary, or is it a lump sum?” they want to know. “Depends on how the EP wants to handle it,” I might say, hoping to confuse them with an acronym. “Or whether that Paramount thing works out first.” A Paramount thing. That’s a great thing to keep in your pocket for general deception when you’re out here. A solid, vague-but-specific generalization that you can whip out when someone gets too nosy about your job as a tour guide on the Paramount lot. “There’s no contracts, ma. This stuff is all strictly on spec.” Whammo. Lingo is a similar smoke grenade to always have at the ready. Sometimes, however, you can cleave too close to the bone, so be careful. “Something’s in the works, but it might get held up by the back-end deal,” you might say, not realizing in the moment that, in order to sell a movie in this town, there may very well indeed be a deal involving a back end.
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