My Day Job

I used to write comics. These days I’m writing a digital sci-fi serial that will someday be finished if I blog less, and edit more. Working on my series pays me ZERO. So how does a GloBL has-been like me pay her bills?

I’m an administrative assistant in the entertainment industry. I perform remote pre-production work for a Director’s Assistant. I type up and prepare shooting scripts. No, I am not a screenwriter, nor am I “writing for a TV show.” Even though I’m on the payroll as an administrative assistant, I’m contractually bound to never reveal the content of the scripts, nor can I talk about the company, or mention the name of the show, or anyone involved with making the show. Everyone participating in the production is bound by confidentiality rules–I know our show makes the caterer sign one. Oy.

What do I do, exactly?

Lots of shit happens to an episodic script between the time it’s written and when it’s given to cast & crew. There are five people on my team–three of them are on site while myself and another are in the production company’s state of incorporation. I deal with the initial changes made after location scouting is complete, and a content review is done. I type and print out that first version and turn it over to the AD. The AD implements any changes when he/she breaks down what I’ve done overall, into a proper shooting script (a scene or grouping of scenes the director wants to shoot on a specific day). If the scheduling is right, the AD will return to me their portioned shooting script, and I will prepare what is called ‘a packet’ of the day’s scenes. Packets are delightful projects involving various colored paper, numbered scenes, and the sort of collating that will have you acting like Jane Fonda in the Xerox Room, from the movie, 9 to 5. I do not deal with revisions made after the packet’s gone to the talent (actors) and crew. That’s someone else’s drama.

My online friend, author Aaron Gallagher, thinks my job sounds cool. I don’t share his opinion because as a writer, it’s masochistic to take a job formatting another writer’s successful ideas; it’s why my flirtation with fanfiction and fan comics, was brief. I’m a talented woman, with great stories to tell, but writing is 90% revision. When the paying job is formatting someone else’s 90%, you want to stick your head in a full toilet bowl and resist reaching for the handle to flush.

Sometimes, you Laugh.

Rabbi Altmann and his secretary sat in a coffeehouse in Berlin in 1935.

“Herr Altmann,” said his secretary, “I notice you’re reading Der Stürmer! I can’t understand why. A Nazi libel sheet! Are you some kind of masochist, or, God forbid, a self-hating Jew?”

“On the contrary, Frau Epstein. When I used to read the Jewish papers, all I learned about were pogroms, riots in Palestine, and assimilation in America. But now that I read Der Stürmer, I see so much more: that the Jews control all the banks, that we dominate in the arts, and that we’re on the verge of taking over the entire world. You know – it makes me feel a whole lot better!”

–old Jewish joke