July 01, 2008

The Intern Chronicles: Day 1

I don't know if I'm going to continue using that title (maybe I'll just make it a category), but it sounds pretty cool for now, right?


Anyway, I just had the most interesting day in a long time. As has been the norm lately, let's go through the day.

My morning started around 8 when I got out of bed feeling extremely shitty. Luckily, I felt better as I woke up, so...possible crisis averted. I actually managed to leave the building around 9, giving myself an hour to make a trip that was projected to take around 35 minutes.

The first step of the journey was to locate the subway station and find the proper train to take me close to my destination. This was surprisingly uneventful, and I managed to locate the right train and get out at the proper stop.

The subway provided another example of the focused nature of New York. The car was packed, and yet, it was almost silent. Another thought: In some way, I think the fact that everyone stumbles for a second if they're standing up when the subway starts to move, regardless of their social status or place in life, brings us all together.

Does that even make sense?

Due to the number of long posts lately, I'm going to continue in the extended entry. Read on if you want to join me for a day of slightly awkward confusion.

The first real adventure of the day happened when I realized that I didn't know the exact location of my internship site when I got within a block of it. I think I wandered around for about ten minutes before locating it, but I still managed to get inside and get to the main office by 10:00.

Bored yet? Read on.

Before I start, let's establish a standard for these posts. As I said earlier, I'm not going to reveal where I'm working, and I also don't want to give away too many specifics, since some astute reader with too much free time could probably start putting facts together and find out where I am. I'd rather not take that risk.

Therefore, I'm going to be giving code names to everyone I deal with. Frankly, this will probably be more confusing for me than it is for you readers, since I'll have to remember which name corresponds to which person, while you'll just have to remember the names I give you.

Now that that's cleared up...

The first person I met was the production coordinator ("PC" from now on), who is also acting as my supervisor for this internship. The main project going on right now is a documentary (again, that's as specific as I'm going to get for now), and I was immediately informed that I was going to join a crew going out to shoot an interview.

The term "crash course" was invented with this type of situation in mind.

So, I went back outside, and after introducing me to the director of photography ("DP") and the co-owner of the company ("CO1"), PC gave me the key to the van and told me to wait in there while they went back in the building and finalized the arrangements.

So, I waited...and waited...and waited...and waited...and waited...for about half an hour in this fucking van with no idea what was going on. It was about 90 degrees outside today, and it was sunny, so you can imagine my discomfort. I tried to deal with this by drinking from a 1 pint bottle of water that I had gotten inside, but this wasn't exactly fun.

Finally, after I got out of the van and stood on the sidewalk for a few minutes, PC came back and told me that they couldn't get permission to shoot at the planned location, so they were doing the interview in the building.


So, we went back inside and proceeded to a big room with a bunch of dirt and props of some sort on the floor. It looked like the backstage area of a high school auditorium. And, according to to PC and CO1, it was all garbage.

Let's pause to summarize. My first duty as an intern was to guard a hot van for half an hour. My second duty was...

Wait for it...

Wait for it...


...Cleaning up all the stuff on the floor!


Of course, I expected it would be something like this, so don't take my sarcasm as a sign that I was really pissed off. I just think it's kind of a funny scenario.

Anyway, I spent the next few minutes wandering around the room with a pushbroom and dustpan and sweeping up dust, pins, and beads that were scattered all over the place.

Around this time, I met a rather interesting character. He's a camera operator or something (I think he does other stuff too), and I will refer to him as "FYF."

By the way, I'm capitalizing that for consistency, but in my head, I've been pronouncing it as "Fiff." You can do the same if you want.

You may be wondering where this name comes from. Basically, he's a friendly guy, but it's kind of a "fuck you" friendly. FYF.

Don't you wish you were as creative as me?

FYF is the kind of guy who will ask you a question about yourself, then make fun of your answer regardless of what you say. He also responds sarcastically to just about everything. At the same time, he's not really a dick or anything. Just..."'fuck you' friendly." I'm sure everyone has met someone like this.

For example, at one point, I realized I didn't know his name, so I said something like, "by the way, I don't think I got your name yet."

His response (not verbatim): "Yeah, because I didn't give it to you. Where would you have gotten my name if I didn't give it to you?"

It sounds really rude, but he was kind of laughing/smiling as he said it. On the other side of things, he told me where to find the editing room when I mentioned that I was interested in post-production, and he asked me to pitch (for you non-industry types, "pitch" means "describe in a way that makes the listener want to produce it") the three scripts I've written. People like that are hard to read.

Anyway, after I had finished sweeping and headed to the bathroom to deal with the consequences of the pint of water I drank while sitting in the van, I returned to find that I was walking into the middle of an interview.

Have I mentioned my tendency to create awkward situations lately?

Luckily, they just kept going, and FYF had me monitor the sound so he could focus on framing the shot.

I really, really wish I could go into detail about what the interviewee talked about, because it was one of the more interesting things I've heard recently, but again, I'm leaving out those kinds of things. Let's just say that he's acting as something of an iconoclastic music historian for this film.

Shit, even that seems like too much info, but I'll take my chances...this time.

After the interview, there was some downtime, and I decided to try and find some food. After another awkward situation involving walking into a place I wasn't supposed to be, I learned that there was a cafeteria downstairs. When I went back to the interview room to get some money, FYF informed me that it would really help if I came back there to watch the equipment so he could take a break.

Are you seeing a pattern in my duties here?

I got some food and came back up, and FYF had me sit in front of the camera while I ate so he could adjust the shot. Another exchange that took place during this time:

FYF: What'd you get me for lunch?
CD (somewhat sarcastic): Uhh...a bag of air.
FYF (dripping with sarcasm): Oooooooh, you're funny.

I genuinely can't tell if this guy likes me or hates me.

The rest of the day consisted of wandering around waiting for the next interview to start. Eventually, it became clear that I was going to have to leave before the interview, since I still had some business to take care of on campus. I did meet the editor ("E") and have a brief conversation with another employee who admits that even he isn't sure what his job title is. Because of this, his name will be "WTF."

This code name thing is going to get really annoying.

Anyway, I managed to once again find my way to the subway (after going the wrong way for about four blocks) and make it to campus and, subsequently, my room.

I'm in a really weird mental zone right now. On one hand, if you read that description of my day, it probably seems like it sucked. However, I'm in the best mood I've been in for a long time, and on the way home, I actually found myself smiling for no particular reason.

I think you'd have to know me in real life to understand how utterly bizarre that is.

In any case, I hope this is a sign that I'm on the right track, and the next few days will probably be better now that I've figured out my basic position within this production.

Incidentally, don't expect every post about the internship to be this long. I just had to establish the setting and characters so I can focus only on the interesting parts from now on.

I am a writer, after all.

I'll end the post with an observation from the past few days: Authority figures (even people whose job is to sit behind a desk and stamp forms) who obviously speak English as a second language or have some sort of heavy foreign accent tend to get pissed off at me much faster when I don't know exactly what I'm doing than native, American-English speakers. I'm not sure if this is a failure on my part or theirs, but it's kind of interesting.

I'm out of things to say.

Posted by CD on July 1, 2008 06:55 PM | TrackBack
Category: The Intern Chronicles
Semi-Intelligent Comments

Ah, work... is a lovely thing, no?

Posted by: The Mulatto Maker at July 1, 2008 11:26 PM
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