Friday, July 17, 2009

Day in the Life of a Studio Assistant

9am - pull into the lot garage. Wave hello to the parking guys who take good care of me and hook me up with secret parking spots when the lot is full. Since I park in P3, I can either take the excruciatingly slow elevator or three-and-a-half flights of stairs and be slightly winded by the time I reach the building elevator (yes, there are two separate elevators). I decide on the stairs, as I know I will probably not be getting too much exercise sitting on my ass for the next 9 or so hours. Walk into the office, turn on the computer, check my voicemail. Message 1: Once again, the Assistant to the President of our division is running late, so she sometimes asks me to open her boss' office (even though he's at a meeting in Mumbai, India). I grab his office key from the desk of our EVP's assistant, who gives me a dirty look, knowing full well I am once again kowtowing to a benign order. That's just the kind of guy I am, so don't hate, I tell her. After opening up the President's office, and making a pot of coffee for a guy who is currently on the other side of the planet, I return the office key to its rightful place, and start to check my email. I someow became known as the office supply bitch, so I sift through request emails, and consolidate them into a single list, which I will send to Office Max.

10am - Production Manager bursts into the office, looking frazzled as ever, running late for a 10am meeting. As I am trying to connect my boss, the VP, to a conference call in Europe, Production Manager drops a pile of DVDs on my desk, saying she needs 3 copies of each in time for a lunchtime messenger, but "No Rush!" (I love when people in a studio use that's like reverse psychology). I set said pile aside, connect my boss, and half-listen in on the call while finishing up my email. I then receive a call from Blair in our Travel department, who tells me my boss is only eligible to stay at "Silver Level" hotels for an upcoming conference in Barcelona, and that I would need to fill out a "Policy Exception Form" which would need to be signed off by our division CFO for him to get a room at the Ritz along with the senior executives he is travelling with. These forms have been the bane of my existence during my time here at the studio.

11am - Coffee time! The first batch of Seattle's Worst is finally gone, so I delve into my secret stash of Peet's, and brew a fresh batch for the sleep-deprived corporate lackeys on our floor. Once I get a couple sips of Peet's rocket fuel, I am ready to tackle the DVD duplication and labeling project. Of course, the labelmaker is on the other side of the hall in our marketing department, so I get to walk back-and-forth about 20 times retrieving these DVD's. So much for sitting on my ass for 9 hours. As I return to my desk momentarily, the assistant to the SVP of Finance approaches me with a dour expressionon her face as she points to her shoulder. Dottie (we'll call her) is susceptible to migraines, and it's convenient having a dude like me who gives killer massages around the corner from her. As I knead the knot from her shoulder, she reacts by saying she can feel the tension in her eyeball. When my phone rings, Dottie understands that the brief massage has concluded, and she shuffles off back to field demands from her high-maintenance boss.

12pm - Almost done with the DVD dupes. I pop in the Office Max order, but my boss is now waiting for a conference call with Latin America to begin, so he can't approve it yet. Ever since Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez decided to roll back (or was it forward?) his nation's clocks a half-hour, getting Caracas on the phone for scheduled calls can be like getting a cab in Vegas on Saturday Night at 3am. Sometimes success, sometimes, wait til next week. While I wait for LatAm (studio talkspeak for Latin America) to join the call, I email Judy from Home Entertainment about our scheduled lunch today. She apologizes, but she's swamped, and needs to reschedule. I've found that if you don't pick a date to reschedule to at that moment, you'll probably never get together. It kind of worked out because the other assistants in our department approach me one-by-one with puppy dog eyes, saying how they're starving and didn't eat after their 6am pilates class-blabbityblahblah, and can they take lunch first pretty please? God forbid an assistant isn't here to answer a phone between 1 and 2pm. I shoo them away, and check my personal email as well as

1pm - I ask my boss if he wants any lunch from downstairs or across the street, and he says yes. After I order his ham-and-swiss on rye (my Jewish boss only eats Kosher pig), I step outside to sneak a quick cigarette. In a city as health-conscious as Los Angeles, there is a certain shame to being caught smoking by people who didn't know you smoked before. This is precisely what happened when the other assistants went to get their salad lunches. Instead of thanking me for covering for them while they fed their already malnourished 90-pound-but-still-insist-they're-fat bodies, they break my balls about the dangers of smoking. I return for the sandwich, grab a diet coke from the free soda machine upstairs, catch up on some emails, check my Facebook page, and reserve a movie from the studio's video library.

2:23pm - The ladies for whom I am covering saunter in from their lunch break, and it's finally time for me to eat. I drive to my secret sandwich spot which is a short drive and not-quite-walking distance from the lot, and grab my delicious roast beef on dark sweet wheat which is bigger, juicier and two bucks cheaper than a similar sandwich served on the lot. With the money I save, I buy a 1/2 pound brownie which only costs $1.50 for my co-workers. The females (especially in Business Affairs) I work with can get temperamental in the afternoon, so this modest investment makes the afternoon go much more smoothly. Besides, the constant health consciousness what with their 6pm kickboxing classes and their Weight-Watchers-points-counting gets annoying, so I get a certain sadistic pleasure out of watching them struggle with their willpower in resisting the brownie while they playfully chide me for trying to "keep them fat and single". The brownie's usually gone by 4:30pm and all is well with the world, MWAAHAHAHAHAAA!!!

3:00pm - After getting my balls busted for taking a 1/2 hour lunch (no overtime! God forbid my time-and-a-half cut into our executives' quarterly 5-figure bonus checks), I get an email forwarded from the EVP's assistant. Some cousin of the EVP who lives up in Canyon Country thought it would be cool if he could impress his new girlfriend by squeezing some Hollywood juice. Translation: I get to call the producers for AMERICA'S BEST DANCE CREW and beg them to get some douchebag I've never met and his trophy girlfriend tickets to be in the show's audience. I tell them I'm calling for our EVP, who would consider this a favor, blabbityblahblah, is there any way we can get some tickets to a live taping pretty please? They grudginly oblige, email me details with confirmation, which I pass onto our EVP. Her cousin emails her back (copying me), thanking her profusely for hooking up the tickets while very briefly mentioning me "And thanks to Sam as well" (even though Sam did ALL the work).

4:00pm - My other VP boss says he wants to score some coffee from this gourmet cafe down the street for a 4:30 meeting, and would I be so kind as to get everyone's order (yeah Mom, all those years of college are finally starting to pay off! "Will that be sugar or Splenda in your latte?")? Not a big deal, as I don't really mind getting out of the office for a few minutes anyways. I approach Nancy, the barista whose jaw drops when she reads the list containing the dummy order of 25 Vanilla Lattes, 16 espressos, and 12 ices chai lattes. I grab the dummy list from Nancy, and say "just kidding" with a smile on my face, and replace the dummy order with the actual order (containing 6 drinks). Hey, anything to add a few laughs to an otherwise mundane weekday! I bring the drinks back to the office, and of course there's always some cocksucker from middle-management who complains, "I wanted non-fat in my latte!"

5:00pm - Time to connect 1st VP to a conference call with Singapore and Hong Kong. Trans-Pacific conference calls can be interesting because Asia is just getting into the office, and aren't always prepared for what's coming from headquarters in LA. As I half-listen to the conversation taking place across two hemispheres and 16 time zones, the banter is about as amusing as watching Law & Order, dubbed in Portuguese with Spanish subtitles. I absorb some key points from the conversation, and regurgitate that to my boss upon conclusion of the call so he thinks I was listening. After he recaps the call with me, I log back onto thesuperficial or, if I'm feeling political, drudgereport.

5:59pm - Against my better judgement, I pound my now-cold-coffee before I head to my buddy's house to work out. So as to not be blindsided when I get to work the following morning, I check my bosses' next-day calendars to see if there are any early morning meetings for which I need to send reminders. No meetings, so I ask my respective bosses if they need anything else, and they shoo me away as they are probably working until 7 or 8.

One thing I notice about working in a studio: Everyone's boss has a boss, so the presence of corporate pressure never lets up. Even our EVP, who is basically our fearless dictator, will bitch about how she has to fly to Sao Paolo with the division President. The division President bitches about how he needs to have the FY 2009 Profit & Loss reports prepared for the studio president when he gets back from his 1st Class flight from South America. The studio President bitches because he's "running out of places to put his money".

My heart bleeds for our embattled studio President. *sniff*

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