Once every five years, this is the best job in the world

December 22, 2010 Comments Off on Once every five years, this is the best job in the world

The streets are quiet and the sky a post-blackened blue, softening from the bottom up over the black corners of buildings and cobblestone streets covered in amber light.  I walk towards the studio, located on a block I lived off of and never knew was there.  Outside, a tall and deeply tanned man with a sharply groomed beard and penciled in eyebrows drags on a cigarette.  We say nothing to each other even though we are the only ones on the street and it is obvious that he is involved in the beauty department.  Hair, makeup, whatever.  I pull on heavy metal doors and follow the signs downstairs.

“Hello?” I call out into a well-lit room with buttercup colored walls.  Two men appear out of nowhere, extending firm handshakes and good eye contact.  They are the responsible individuals in charge of production: the people who plan and execute an idea, the emotionally tied freelancers.  The rest of us pop in and pop out, do whatever someone else asks of us, and move onto the next.  We just have to show up, preferably on time; that’s our job.  Most of the time we never even see the finished product from our day’s work, which is truly a reflection of how there is rarely a pride in accomplishment on our end.  The models are beautiful, that’s really it.  At the end of the day, we get our paychecks and spend our money, and there is some gratification in that, but not much.

The director, a preppy blonde in a blue pullover sweater with the white collar of his button up shirt peaking out from underneath, reminds me of an American Hugh Grant.  He is accompanied by a brunette boy wearing snug pants and sporting some methodically tussled hair in accidental homage to Russell Brand.  I can’t tell if it’s just the four hours of sleep that I was able to squeeze out of the night before, but these boys are actually attractive and, as far as I can tell, straight.  This is possibly the best job I’ve had in nearly five years.

I am directed upstairs to “Holding” – a lofted area with big leather couches and a flat screen TV the size of one of my apartment walls.  There are four director’s chairs, one for each model.  I stare over the railing at the production below, a series of thick cotton dividers creating two compartmentalized sets: a fake salon, a fake runway.  Movie magic.

The other girls trickle in, finding their places to exist within the expansive holding area.  Downstairs, there are two tables filled with crisp pastries and bowls of fruit, coffee and juices, yogurt and granola.  I watch a hipless girl in light gray leggings smear cream cheese over a wheat bagel.  The production team goes for heartier fare: wedges of frittata and a scoop of roasted potatoes.  Everything is from a green catering company in the neighborhood; the ingredients are locally grown and the utensils are compostable.  This is what happens when a company has a budget and the production team has a conscious.

There is little to do on our part over the course of the next few hours.  One of the models organizes crumpled receipts for her 2010 taxes.  Another falls asleep on the sofa.  The last drinks tea and works on her third cup of yogurt.  I sit, watching the handsome director mill about and listening for the sound of his voice, deep and thoughtful.  By the end of the day, I have fallen in love with someone on account of how they can give directions without being condescending and how they can yell, “Quiet, please!” without sounding like a dick.

There is a marked difference between jobs such as this and the ones I have become begrudgingly accustomed to – the jobs with no budgets and shitty lunches, harried designers and multiple racks of clothing filled with zippers that nip at your ribcage and denim with no stretch, the jobs that go on until they are over and when they are over you want to fucking kill yourself.  Here, we have a room filled with professionals trying to make a beautiful, quality promotional product.  The director knows what he is doing.  The models know what they are doing.  There is an expectation for a certain level of performance and the environment itself creates that.  There is no frantic hair pulling or yelling or making people feel badly about themselves.  Unsurprisingly, these are the easiest days.  Ironically, these are the ones you get paid the most for.

Three hours go by and I am still just sitting in the loft, wondering how I am going to flirt with the director.  Tough day.


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