Every Saturday we ask some of our favorite writers to fill in for us. Today, we have former Cracked.com writer Anthony Layser, who is now the deputy managing editor of Asylum.com.
Being a production assistant in the film and television business is tantamount to being a food service employee who empties the deep fryer and scrubs the urinals. It's a position I held with the TV Guide Channel--the entertainment industry equivalent of a taco stand. To call the work mindless doesn't appropriately explain the job; it was anti-mind. Yet like a lot of young people, I believed that being a PA would be my first step toward rising up the ranks, allowing me to one day achieve my goal of producing a sitcom featuring trained Komodo dragons. Here's how that went ...
1Accepting a Job I Knew Little About
Like any desperate comm. school grad, I applied for the job because I was told they possessed a studio that recorded moving images. At some point, a human relations rep probably explained that my position would essentially make me the entertainment industry equivalent of India's "Untouchable" caste, but apparently that seemed like a fair trade off to me.
What I Should Have Done:
It might have been advisable to actually watch the TV Guide Channel before signing on. Not only were there no exotic trained animal shows or sitcoms, but the entire programming philosophy was to have a sycophant fawn over network and cable clips in nearly identical segments with names like "Watch This!," "What's On" and "TV Circle Jerk!" Meanwhile, the advertisers were predominantly manufacturers of festive collectible plates and Elvis figurines.
2Assuming Others Were Aware of Our Product's Banality
After a week on the job, I was already becoming friendly with the staff, most of whom seemed genuinely disinterested in the pap we were creating. I soon felt comfortable enough to crack jokes about creating programming that's sole focus was to encourage its viewers to watch something else. Before I realized the production manager was not laughing along, she pulled me aside and said, "Some of us take our work seriously." I immediately felt sympathy for her.
What I Should Have Done:
Kept my head down, and did my job. If someone asked me what I thought about the TVGC, I didn't necessarily have to lie. I could have simply told them, I was using it as a source of income until I sold my teleplay inspired by a harrowing stint on Master Cleanse. (That was always my cover. I would never blithely reveal my Komodo idea for fear of it being stolen.).