During my time writing, I also landed an interview and got my foot in the door at a local production company. There I spent the summer working as a production assistant, learning about film and video equipment, audio, lighting and blue screens.
Our projects were mostly corporate videos and television commercials. And on a half dozen occasions, with only six people, we were able to pull off 35mm shoots. Even today I look back on the experience as invaluable.
And although everyone was happy to teach me the inner workings of production, off set, it was my responsibility to scrub toilets and mop the floors. I didn’t mind the crap work. In fact, scrubbing toilets taught me a valuable lesson. I realized if I can keep my dreams bigger than the crap, I can get through pretty much anything.
I had no choice but to become the most successful janitor this company ever had. And I never complained. Someone had to do it, and at the very least, I ate lunch with a group of talented film and video professionals.
After a month of this, the president of the company walked across my freshly mopped floor and asked me if I wanted to take a trip…
“Where?” I asked.
“The Maine Media Workshops in Rockport, Maine.”
“What the heck is that?” I asked.
“You can work with Hollywood people. Learn something.”
Two weeks later, I headed north.
In Rockport, I was enrolled in eight-week film work-study. The curriculum was intense, but awesome… In the mornings our class learned everything about film theory and technology and at night we would make movies. The course was set up to teach us the entire filmmaking process, from script-to-screen… Of course, it was work-study, so part of my time there was spent working.
This time my crap work was trash. I was assigned the duty of hauling heavy and smelly trash bags to the dump! I think someone in our class made a documentary of this… But that’s another story.
After Maine, I went back to York, Pennsylvania. In my months away, I had shed some pounds and was back to my normal weight. I even had the first draft of a screenplay, but I still hadn’t figured out how to get to Hollywood. After a few more weeks, I was about to regress back into my bowling ball and cheeseburger life, but I got lucky.
One night I received this weird phone call from a producer in New York City. Turns out he was a former grunt at the small production company.
“Our buddy Joe dropped your name… Said you want to get out of Pennsylvania. Think you can come over to the Apple and work a corporate gig?”