Mar 10, 2008

What do you do?

“WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING?” shouted the fellow at the party. He was an older gentleman, a writer, distinguished looking. He stood next to my friend Tom, a commercial director. I smiled and responded shouting over the loud party noise. “I’M A SCRIPT SUPERVISOR” He tilted his head and replied “A STRIPPER?” Tom started laughing and said “YES! SHE’S A STRIPPER!” At this point the distinguished writer was tagged by another mingler and left our group for a new conversation...still believing I was a stripper.

It was a party for writers…a decidedly different breed of people than film people. Not knowing anyone at the party aside from my director friend, I promised myself I would meet five new people. I mingled, crashed conversations, and nodded thoughtfully while listening to the literate people talk. I met my quota and as I was starting to say my goodbyes… around the corner appeared an actual film person!!! Claire, a set decorator I knew, had just arrived. Of course we gravitated together and caught up on gossip, and most importantly who’s working. (the two topics crew love to talk about)

As we were talking I noticed her glaring at a writer on the other side of the room. “What that about?” I inquired. She said, “That woman introduced me as … “oh, she’s just a film person.” Claire was pretty ticked. I began to look around. Do all these published writers think that we are “just film people” too? Are we lesser individuals because we are part of a collaborative creative process, unlike their singular creative genius?

I have never experienced feeling snubbed when telling a “civilian" what I do. After a summed up explanation of what a script supervisor does the typical response is “That sounds like an exciting job.” Or, I get the deer in headlights look that says, “I have no response to that,” or really impressed like when Dilbert artist Scott Adams met a script supervisor.

So, we brushed off the statement deciding that she was just a bitch and hadn’t had it in months. As I continued mingling I found myself wondering what the next writer’s response would be to what I did for a living… maybe telling them I was a stripper was the way to go. It worked for Diablo Cody.

Been snubbed lately?


Michael Taylor said...

Great post. It's been years since I went to anything like a Hollywood party or gathering, thus limiting my own opportunities to be snubbed. Most people I do see in social gatherings already know what I do -- and how boring it really is -- so they don't ask questions.

In general, writers have as much understanding of what the crew does on set as the average civilian -- nil. There are exceptions, of course, but I'm not sure it really matters. They do their job and we do ours, so as long as they don't get in the way, I don't expect them to know or care what I'm doing.

On another level, though, writers are above the line, the rest of us below -- which makes them members of the Eloi tribe, while we are forever consigned to the ranks of Morlocks. Call is class consciousness or just plain snobbery -- either way, it's real

The funny thing is, I'll bet that writer who thinks you're a stripper will remember you a lot longer than if he'd heard correctly, and met you as a script supervisor.

devonellington said...

I'm surprised that writers would behave that way. Or maybe I shouldn't be surprised!

Actually, because I write both fiction and non-fiction, articles, and plays -- I find wanna-be novelists who've never been published to be the worst.

But, as a writer who's also spent most of my life working backstage -- well, I figure it's part of my job as a writer to be interested in what everyone else does -- you never know when it might come in handy.

Since most of my backstage life is spent in wardrobe, I get some odd questions, like "Have you ever seen (Big Major Star) naked?"

I don't consider writers civilians -- sorry they behaved that way at that party.

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