Updates: Website Maintenance, SSL Certificates, and Name Servers

Updates SLL Nameservers

WEBSITE AND LIFE UPDATES:

A lot has happened since I let this website fall into the netherworld. Browsers are now blocking sites that don’t have SSL certificates, or at the very least, informing users that the website is not “secure.” I don’t know the finer details of how this all works, all I know is that many of you probably encountered some irritating warning over the past — who knows how long — that this website may be compromised, or not safe, or hacked by ISIS, or something of that nature. Rest assured, this website is completely safe, and the internet was just forcing me into buying an SSL certificate. It kind of feels like racketeering. But, whatevs. Now that I have acquired an SSL certificate, when you look up near the website name in your browser, depending on what browser you’re using, you should see a little “LOCK” icon, indicating this website is safe. Yay!

Another thing that happened while I was away … my host changed their name servers, and I still had this domain tied to the old name servers. This made it so a whole lot of people COULDN’T even access this website if they wanted to. Entire regions of the United States and parts of the world were locked out of visiting this site because of some crazy DNS “server not found” error. Anyway, I’ve switched us over to the new name servers, and that shouldn’t be a problem anymore. So if you’re seeing this website for the first time in a while, yay! It worked!

On the home front, I’ve finished up a pilot script and pitch document for a new show I’m developing. Right now that is in a holding pattern, as the project is in someone else’s hands for about a week. So, I’m looking at about a week of free time. What do I do? Besides trying to get this website back up and running, I’ve dusted off an old screenplay that’s been sitting on a shelf for two years. I have some big ideas on how to fix some of its many problems (problems that got me to shelve it in the first place). So I’m going to spend the next week rewriting that sucker and getting it into enough shape to send out for some notes.

This most significant problem with that script was the ending. And by that, I mean there was no ending. I wrote the entire screenplay, but because I got antsy during the outline, I never figured out the end before I started writing. So once I got to the ending, I got lost.  The other day I was driving in traffic on the ten freeway (or as I like to call it, FUCKING HELL) and the ending just popped into my head. Out of nowhere. Like, as if the story had been moving around in my head for the past two years without me knowing. Now I have an ending. So I’m going to write it.

In other news, the comic book pitch I’ve been working on is coming along nicely. Art is done. Color is almost done. Then I just have to ship it off to the letterer and finish up the pitch doc, and that sucker will be ready to send out.

Anyway. If anyone has any questions about getting a job as a production assistant or as a writer or anything like that, shoot me a question via the “ASK ME A QUESTION” link in the top menu.

How do You Get Work in the Film Industry? You Have to Fucking WORK.

There is a symptom that plagues film school students and those who want to work in the film industry.

I know this because I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a lot of film students. That vast majority of them don’t want to work. They don’t want to start at the bottom and crawl their way to the top. They want to make art. Let me tell you something, you want-to-be-filmmakers —

YOU ARE GOING TO FAIL. YOU. YES. YOU.

You’re going to graduate film school thinking you want to work in the film industry, but end up switching careers with thousands of dollars in student debt, or work at a local TV station making shitty commercials, or film weddings for the rest of your life. And that’s no one’s fault but yours.

How do you not fail? You work you fucking ass off, that’s how.

I have not made it. Far from it. But I’m a lot further along than the lot of you. And you probably want to be where I am right now. I work for a “big-time” guy in the industry. I frequent film sets during production and have the occasional chat with a celebrity. My scripts are being read “around town”, and I have representation courting me. This is shit I DREAMED about having 7 years ago when I started this blog. I’m STILL not happy with where I am, but that’s another story. THIS story is about how none of this is going to happen to you because you’re a lazy piece of shit.

If you want to work in the film industry, you have to be willing to work 18 hours days 6 days a week for minimum wage with an Assistant Director yelling at you over the walkie in front of the entire crew right after you’ve spent the last 2 hours picking up dog shit and used condoms off the side of the road for the art department at 6 in the fucking morning.

If you want to work in the film industry, you have to be willing to leave EVERYTHING behind and move to Los Angeles with no money and sleep on a strangers couch that you met on craigslist who smokes weed every day and watches TV until 1 am not letting you get any sleep before you have to wake up at 4am to get to pre-call on set in the middle of sun valley by 6am.

If you want to work in the film industry, you have to leave every comfort you know, and jump headfirst into a chaotic environment using equipment you’ve never used before for people you’ve never met before, while all the time trying to prove that you’re the hardest worker in the world so that maybe they will hire you again for the next job.

If you want to work in the film industry, you need to be meeting people and spending more time looking for work than actually working because you need to have a job lined up when the current job your working is over.

And then, MAYBE, after you’ve done all this for a few years and find a steady job, you will be able to direct enough shorts or write enough screenplays in your “free time” to get noticed and actually do the shit you really want to be doing out here.

If you’re not willing to do any of this stuff. Then do everyone already working in LA a favor and  GTFO of here so that our commute on these god-forsaken highways is minus one car.

Now get off your lazy piece of shit ass and go do something.

-12pt

Crazy Pills

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I sometimes just visit this site and stare at it. I want to write a post, I’m just not exactly sure what to write about. I figure it’s been a while since I posted something… so I’m just going to start writing and we’ll see where it goes. If there is anything specific you’d like me to write about — see that “ask me a question” tab at the top?

It seems I tend to write posts when I’m angry or irritated. I guess that’s because I find writing as a sort of release. If I’m upset at something, it helps to write about how I feel. After I’m done writing about whatever it is that’s bothering me — the tension seems to go away. Whether it’s about bitchy people, ignorant people, or what not to put on a fucking resume, I amuse myself by turning my feelings into witticisms… or at least what I think are witticisms.  If I can take something really fucking irritating or depressing and make myself laugh by writing about it… it’s almost like therapy. (But I’ve never been to therapy, so how the fuck would I know. )

I guess that’s called passion. Writing about something that deeply moves you. Whether it’s hate, love, or depression. These are the emotions that fuel all types of art. Most of the time I guess I don’t feel strongly about anything… so I don’t find there is really anything to write about… but as proof of me writing this —  if you just start writing the words seem to come out anyway.

The new job is going well. I’m an assistant at a very small production company with a project going through post. I kind of feel like I’m not doing enough. I’ve been busting ass in production for so long… give me an hour of no responsibility and I start getting paranoid that I’m not doing my job correctly. I think the phone rings about twice a day.  Which I answer IMMEDIATELY … of course. I get mail. Go on random runs. (The other day I picked up a shit ton of cat food and returned some pillows.) I clean and organize things… One upside to the lack of my current responsibility is the time to write. This morning I got into the office, made coffee, and wrote for 2.5 hours without interruption before going on my first chore for the day. I call that a Tuesday success story.

I’ve started taking my first steps into the rewriting phase of this pilot. I finished it — so that’s good. But I’m not happy with it. I’m about half way through turning my “vomit” draft into something I would actually let someone else read for notes.  My first step was to just diarrhea creative thought onto the page in order to get through scenes and finish the damn thing. Now I’m basically just starting from the beginning and rewriting every sentence keeping in mind that someone else has to read and understand what the hell any of it means.  Of course, in going through it again, I see things that aren’t working. Scenes that need major improvement. Characters that make no sense. Horribly cheesy dialogue.  So as I nitpick my way through I’m trying to fix most of these problems…. at least temporarily. After I get all they way through, I’m going to give it one more once over just to see if it flows decent enough… then I’ll hand it over to my writing partner and have him do a pass. After he’s done,  I’ll read it and we’ll have a creative meeting and go from there.

I need to get this shit done fast. I’ve been reading deadline (which, if you work in the industry you should probably scan through the headlines on deadline at least 2-3 times a day) and a few shows are being announced with similar themes to the show I’m working on. It doesn’t necessarily scare me… as I feel these shows are paving the way for the show I’m working on… but I feel like a window might be opening that I want to jump through before it snaps back shut. Which makes me think, why the hell am I writing THIS when I could be working on my pilot.

A Bitter Taste

Fuck It

When I started working in this industry I noticed something. Everyone seemed like they hated their lives. I would run around as a PA, so eager to serve, and notice that all the grips, teamsters, and props guys were all really angry people. Everyone pretty much seemed like they would rather take a hammer to the eye than work another day. Don’t get me wrong, I became friends with a lot of them, but I noticed how bitter everyone was. As if their job was the worst thing on the planet. I didn’t get it. Why were they working in the industry if they hated it so much? I was overjoyed to be working on set. Watching how everything came together. Meeting a ton of new people. Making connections. Working on TV shows and movies! Living the dream and starting a life. A new adventure every day.

About 5 minutes ago I realized I have turned into that bitter, angry, below-the-line ball of stress and nerves. I have become what I didn’t understand, and it only took 2 years.

So let me educate those who were once like me, eager and free. It comes from getting paid way below what you think you should be getting paid. From working 14 hour days making minimum wage — where overtime isn’t worth your time. From figuring out that working your ass off and hardly working yields almost the same result in pay, respect, and recognition. The eternal lingering sense that you’re not doing what you really should be doing to get where you want to go. It’s a real kick in the balls of motivation. But you need to continue. You need to work harder, and stronger, and faster. You need to show everyone how much they depend on you. But the harder you work, the worse it feels when you don’t receive the recognition you deserve. Which makes you angry. It makes you bitter. It makes you hate everyone around you. But you stay.

Why do you stay? Because deep down you wouldn’t rather be doing anything else. This is exactly what you want to be doing, you just want to excel at it. Make more money at it. Be better at it. Gain the appreciation and affirmation of your peers. So you stay. And you hate. And the more you try to change the world around you, the more it shits all over you. And when you clean up all the shit and become a reinforced blank canvass ready to take on the world, you get shit on again. And this happens forever and ever until your that 50 year old prop master with a permanent scowl. Ready to snap at any moment. But you still stay, because something about your job makes you happy, and keeps you going, and you’re not exactly sure what it is. But it’s there, rooted deep in some unyielding part of your being, telling you that you can make it. That you will be happy some day.

I now understand.

Summer Lovin’

First day of Summer is tomorrow!

Summer used to be the best shit ever. No school. No responsibilities. Kick back. Party. Something about those hot summer nights… they were dangerous. One could have too much fun.

Now when I think of summer, I think of having to sit in hot traffic on my way to work. I think of sitting in an office filled with fluorescent lighting and the never ending ringing of phones. And when I’m in said office, all I can think about is going to the beach. Which is funny, because I live near the beach… and I never go. But when I’m in the office… I think of the fucking beach.

But anyway… the reason I’m posting.

I remember back when I was an avid reader of TAPA’s blog it came to a point where he would stop posting very often… sometimes months on end. This made me sad. I was scared he had been ousted and forced to stop posting. Or had died. Or was going to abandon his website… (which he eventually did). So, even though this site is not nearly as popular as his (but for some reason I am still receiving over 100 hits a day) I don’t want to leave any of my readers thinking I’m dead. So here I am — making this obligatory post telling you that I am alive.

I haven’t been posting much because I’ve been working non-stop since the end of March. Hopped on an Office PA job for all of April and now I’m out of state working as an Editorial PA… which is pretty awesome. I get a little break from the HELL that is production. I’ll be back in LA mid July looking for my next gig. Just in time for 110 degree weather on the 405! *Stabs neck repeatedly with pen*

I wasn’t able to finish my screenplay in time for the Nicholl Fellowship due to work… but fear not. I have some other things on the horizon. Hopefully I’ll be able write back with some good news soon. If not… I’ll try… and try again.

We’re currently in that time of the year when screenplay contests begin announcing their winners. I want to wish all you budding screenwriters the greatest of luck… and if you don’t become a finalist, I leave you with this quote.

“Failure is a badge of honor. It means you risked failure.” – Charlie Kaufman

ONE YEAR IN LA and HAPPY BIRTHDAY 12ptCourier.com!

I’ve been in LA for a year today! They say if you make it in LA for a year, you’re in. I guess I’m here for good! Next step… profit?

ALSO

12ptCourier.com turns 2 years old this month! The first post was on April 1, 2010. OHhhhhhh look how we’ve grown. 🙂

Beware The Ides of March!

Three posts in one day! NO WAYOMG.

No idea why I named this post that. I hope bad things aren’t going to happen. I definitely hope I don’t get stabbed 23 times. That would just put a real downer on the beginning of 2012. Even getting stabbed 1 time would pretty much be horrible.

I know I said I would post what I decided to write soon after the holidays. Unfortunately January became a freak out month cause I couldn’t find any work. But I survived again… somehow. Then in February something amazing happened. I worked my first feature! 18 days of ass busting work. Three 6-day weeks consisting of about 75 hours of work per week. It was hell, and I was so loving it. My AD’s were basically training me to be a PA god… and I learned a whole lot. I’m sure I have material for more PA articles now

I came out here to work on features… and I definitely want to work another one. The entire crew was amazing… which is rare. There are usually those one or two people you wish would die in a car wreck on the way to work one morning… Not on this feature. Everyone was a joy. Anyway… that is over now… and the money is almost gone already. Time to look for more work.

On a good note I had some time to really think about writing, and I’ve decided to start working on a dark comedy I’ve been brewing for a while. The feature I worked on was low budget. It probably was in the $1Mil range. I got to see what one could do with a million dollars. Most of the features I’ve been brewing would cost a shit load of money to produce — not usually a good way to break into the industry as a new writer. So I’ve decided to get this dark comedy finished because:

  • It doesn’t have many lead actors
  • It doesn’t have many locations
  • It doesn’t have any HUGE set pieces
  • It could probably be shot low budget and still be awesome.

I feel something like this could sell way easier than my screenplay about a futuristic medieval zombie apocalypse, or the earth building a spaceship to meet the source of an alien message. Even though my heart is set on epic… I need to get to that point somehow. So I’m going to try and be epically low budget out of the gate. I could be going at this completely wrong, but it’s where my head is at.

I hit my first act break today and magically landed right on page 25. That is pretty much an awesome coincidence. I’m writing a vomit draft… so it’s nothing but a crazy person’s thoughts on paper at this point… and the first act break still landed on 25. That makes me happy. I’m going the right direction with this shit, I can feel it.

I’ve been in a caffeine induced haze all day playing make believe and talking with people that don’t exist. Thus the life of a writer. So now I’m going to drink a lot of beer.

I’ll let you know how this venture goes someday in the future. Until then… beware the ides of March!!!

Production Assistant Career Paths: What Kind of Jobs Do You Get?

production assistant career paths

I know I’ve been neglecting this blog. My most humble apologies. Things have been crazy. Trying to find work. Moving into a new apartment. Trying to pay my bills. Surviving my insane move to LA. I’ve been here for a little over four months now, and I am slowly settling in. It’s been an adventure so far, and I promise I’ll continue my life updates shortly! But for now here is my once a month post… 🙁

A reader has a question.

Reader Question:

Hey, I’m a senior year in college pursuing a degree in Communications with an emphasis in Entertainment Studies. As of now I have yet to decide which area of the Film Industry I’d like to work in and in research came across your blog & had a few questions if you don’t mind. First, I have many interests in the field & have been trying to find one to focus my efforts into. My front runner right now is Casting & I was wondering if you knew anything about how Casting is ran or any tips on getting into that area? My other question is about P.A.’s, & what are the different career paths they lead to? Also, how long do most people work as a P.A. before moving on to something else? Would you recommend working as a P.A.?
Thanks for your time!

-Keri

Thanks for the question, Keri!

I honestly don’t know much about the casting department. As I said in my last article on production assistants, you can be a set PA, and art PA, an office PA, a writer’s PA, and yes, even a casting PA.  Just about every department can have a production assistant depending on how big the show is. If you want to get into casting, I suggest learning as much about it as possible and trying hard to get in contact with a casting director or agency and ask about becoming an assistant in that department. Again, it’s all about who you know. Make some contacts in that department and let everyone know what job you want, and eventually, someone will (hopefully) hire you. You have to be proactive.

Production Assistant Career Paths

What kind of production assistant career paths are out there? It all depends on what department YOU want to work in. If you want to be an AD (assistant director), you can work your ass off as a set production assistant and learn as much as possible about being an AD. Eventually, you can start getting jobs as a non-union 2nd 2nd AD, then a 2nd AD, then a 1st AD. Once you have enough days on set, you can get into the DGA and make the big bucks.

BEING A PRODUCTION ASSISTANT DOESN’T GUARANTEE YOU ANY JOB.

The production assistant career path is not like most career paths. There isn’t a standard promotion hierarchy. Being a production assistant helps you learn about the industry by working IN it. It’s WHAT you do WHILE working as a production assistant that counts. You want to work in the art department and become a prop (property) master or a set dresser? Meet the art department on set as a PA and let them know. Then work your ass off and stay in contact with them. Maybe they’ll call you to be an art PA. Then eventually you can start doing set dressing with them once you’ve learned enough about the art department by being a PA. Then you can use that experience and your new art contacts to try and get into IATSE, the union all the art people are in.

Do you want to be a grip? While working as a PA, talk to the grip guys and let them know. Do you want to work in camera? Meet camera people. A PA only becomes what they want to become, and what they work hard to become. It’s not a position that naturally gets promoted to another position.

HOW LONG DOES SOMEONE STAY A PRODUCTION ASSISTANT?

This also depends on the person. There are production assistants out there who are PAs FOREVER. You only get promoted when you actively try to learn other departments and move into another position. I’ve been working as a PA for four months, and every time I’m on set I let the 2nd AD know that I’ve run talent before and worked as a 2nd 2nd before, so they give me more responsibility. I’ve already done a non-union commercial out here as a 2nd AD. But if I want to join the DGA, I could be working as a PA or Non-Union AD for years before that happens. (I don’t want to be an AD).

THE SHORT ANSWER

While working as a PA, find what department you want to work in and let everyone know. Meet and stay in contact with as many people in that department until they give you a job.

WOULD I RECOMMEND WORKING AS A PRODUCTION ASSISTANT?

Only if you’re serious about working in the film/tv industry. Being a PA honestly sucks ass. It’s not a fun job. You’re on set before everyone else, and you’re the last to leave. You’re the last to eat lunch. You’re usually working nonstop for 12-16 hours. If you sit down, you get yelled at. Don’t dare use your phone while working. You are a machine that does what you’re told without question. The only reason I’m doing this is because I love the field I’m working in, and I have a strong desire to move up. Nobody likes being a PA, but it’s necessary to get where you want to go.

Now I have to go to bed because I have another 12 hour day tomorrow.

Until next time…

Reader Question: Moving to LA with Nothing

Right after I posted the last article about not having work for 4 weeks I got a gig. Holy shit did I get a gig. I ended up working 10am-6am straight. The lord answered my prayers for work… and then almost killed me. I’ll write more on that experience later. For now, I got a reader question.

Tiffany writes:

I am a PA in Detroit, who just happened to come across your blog. I’m very interested in your entries.. I see that you moved to LA, and said that you had the gas to get there, and your GPS. How’s it been going for you so far? Have you really had to sleep in your car? The past few months I’ve been trying to figure out a plan to get out of Michigan, and get to LA (I have a friend there that is taunting me to get there sooner, also). I am hoping my friend will be able set me up with a job when I get out there, but he’s not sure he will be able to.. Just wondering how realistic it is to head out there with practically nothing. Hope to hear back from you.

You’re right, I did basically come out here with nothing. Honestly I would not advise anyone to move to LA without a plan and some cash. I know that I came out here on a whim, and I’ve survived so far, but I knew that I had a couple couches to sleep on, and I had at least one person willing to set me up with some work. I came out here with about $1000. I spent roughly $300 on gas and a couple nights in a cheap hotel. The rest is already gone. Luckily I’ve gotten a few jobs since I arrived to help pay bills.

If you don’t have couches to sleep on, I would recommend saving up three months of living expenses minimum before you come out here. I’ve even heard of people not landing a paying gig for 6 months. It’s really hard getting work without knowing people.

How have I been surviving on such little work? I find places to sleep for free. I sleep on floors and couches. I eat PB&J and Ramen Noodles. I don’t drive unless I have to. I’ve been doing this for two months. Hopefully I will start getting enough work soon to be able to get a little more situated. Kiss your social life goodbye.

If you plan on coming out here without a lot of savings, be prepared to live like a bum. You have to be a little bit crazy to live this life. A ton of people come out here to do exactly what I am doing right now, most of them end up going back home.  As Josh Dobkin says,

It’s outlast and outshine out here.  If you really want it bad enough, put the time in and don’t cave under the harsh environment like everyone else, you’ll rise above the muck.

It can be done. People do it every year. Most of them end up going home. If you want it bad enough, you’ll survive.

I’m Moving to L.A.

Basically, if your life’s dream is to become a giant Hollywood screenwriter, then you need to live in Hollywood. – John August

If you want to be next to writers, you need to be close to producers. And that means either being a PA on a production, or finding work at a production company… which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND! – Joshua Dobkin

What the fuck are you trying to do in Atlanta?  COME OUT HERE! – My friend in L.A.

I had a plan. I was going to work in Atlanta for a few years, write some specs, and save money. Then I was going to make the jump to L.A. with a couple of scripts under my belt and work my ass off. My plan for Atlanta isn’t working for a multitude of reasons, and after some recent advice from a friend working in L.A. — I’m jumping in and taking the risk!

I will be packing my ’94 Honda Accord (that just hit 200,000 miles yesterday!) with everything I need to live and drive from Tennessee to Los Angeles, California in the next week/week and a half. I will sleep on couches (or in my car if I have to) and take every job I can get. I need work; I crave work. Anything even related to film will do. I have 5 different resumes made up, enough money to get out there, and a TomTom GPS.

Speaking of work. If any of my readers could put my sweat and tears to good use in L.A. shoot me an email. Preferably with a production company doing something in development, screenwriter’s assistant, or a writer’s P.A. But like I said, I’ll be Kevin Smith’s oil boy if It will get me in the door.

Honestly, I wish I would have done this months ago.  I only have a couple of months before my massive student loans start coming in. On THAT note, don’t go to film school on student loans… bad… bad……very bad idea. Can’t change the past so I must look towards the future.

So… if chapter one of this blog was film school, chapter two will be moving to L.A. and working my ass off trying to get someone to let me work my ass off.

So let the madness begin. What do you think about moving to LA? Bad idea or a fucking awesome idea?