The next day, I was on Amtrak, headed into the heart of Manhattan. When I got off the train, things moved quickly. I had never worked in New York prior to this. The producer met me Penn Station, took me to the location, and gave me a list of things needed. I started the day fetching coffee and lemon lime seltzer water, and bagels.
Having never worked in the city, at times I was lost in the streets with fifty pounds of drinks and hot coffees. And even though this was the neatest day in my life, it was also October 2001. Ground Zero was still smoking. People around me were wearing dust masks to filter out the dust, ash and debris. What a surreal contrast between my enthusiasm for the job and my empathy for everyone around me.
When we got back, the producer and director pulled me aside.
“Kid, let me ask you a question. One of our camera guys didn’t show. Have you ever worked a camera?”
“Yeah (But not really!) “
“Good. You’re getting a 50 dollar raise.”
Now in retrospect, that put me at $150 for the day, which at the time seemed like a million dollars. But knowing what I now know about day rates – I was such a bargain!
The director handed me a set of headphones and when I put them on and plugged in, I heard this amazing electrical “phoowsh.” And with that sound, I became a professional. Over the next hour my work was close to Zen.