Yesterday, well to be honest yesterday wasn’t the first time this has happened to me, and I am sure it has happened to you-if you work in the industry already-a friend of mine freaked out and started yelling at me via facebook messages because I have been working so many hours.
Here is the thing. Anytime I have tried to have any kind of relationship-friends or dating-with anyone normal-not in the industry-it doesn’t work. They do not understand the hours. They do not understand the flexibility needed, they don’t understand that I can’t talk on the phone all the live long day with them, they don’t understand why I can’t make plans weeks in advance. They just don’t understand, and then they get angry.
First of all, this is the business and personally I love it. I don’t like to make plans with people that won’t understand if I have to cancel, so 9 times out of 10 if you ask me to do something a week or more in advance I will say, “Check with me next week”. The reason I do this is for two reasons. The first being that I usually have no idea how many hours I will be working in the following week or weeks, so it is too hard to plan and the second being that I hate canceling on people. It is rude and I hate when it is done to me, so I would rather not put someone else through it. Now do I ever care if people make plans without me? NO! Never, not even once. It is what it is and I have been in this business long enough to know that.
But what seems to happen all the time is that people get really upset with me, and then when I apologize, I get bitched out and usually it is very dramatic and over done. I get accused of not caring, of being a Hollywood Princess, waiting for something better.
Here is what happened this time. A friend of mine, who I haven’t seen in months because she lived on the other side of L.A. and doesn’t drive, sent me a message a couple weeks ago saying she was house sitting in the neighborhood next to me. I was excited that I would finally see her and catch up. Oh yeah, side bar, this person is one of those, “I need to talk on the phone an hour a night” types-so that should have been my red flag. I sent her a message saying since she was close I would love to have coffee or a meal with her. She texted me last week trying to lock down a specific day. Well I couldn’t do that. I am currently working on a feature film, and knew that at any moment, I was also going to start on a short. The way it works is it is always last minute, and I never know when, so I said, “Let’s talk next week”. Then she said, “Well I am only there until Saturday and then I am leaving.” I asked her what that meant: was she leaving LA for good, going back to the beach? On vaccay? I got this “I am not like you, I don’t like to write, I will tell you in person-if I even see you”
Okay, fucking guilt trips have the opposite affect and effect-because you can literally see the steam from my anger leaving my ears when I get crap like this-on me.
I messaged her apologizing for not being able to talk on phone, but I would make time for her. I got slammed with work. I was busy, but I still tried to make plans for midday Friday. She texted me on Thursday asking if we were still on for breakfast early in the morning. I explained that I meant midday not morning, but I now had an unexpected deadline of 2 pm, so could we possible move our meeting?
That is when the shit hit the fan. It started with a “No, I am going out of town for the weekend so I guess this is goodbye, goodbye”. I asked her what she meant, she said she was leaving LA for good. I stayed up working until 4 am trying to finish in time to meet. She sent me a long email yelling at me calling me names telling me that the world does not revolve around me and she doesn’t care if I work in Hollywood. Etc etc.. this went on all friggen day. To be fair, I didn’t really care if she could meet at 2 instead of noon, I was tired, but was trying to make it work. I had to finally delete her from my FB and block her because she wouldn’t stop. I also didn’t understand why her leaving LA meant the end of the friendship when I have tons of friends elsewhere and I got the, “I’m not like you, I like to see people in person.” Followed by bullshit and guilt until after 8 PM, which means she could have easily met me at 2 instead of noon-but again, I didn’t care, I was tired from staying up all night.
About two months ago, a friend from out of state was coming in town. He posted on my wall saying that he would see me but I was “always too busy”-another fucking guilt trip-so I apologized and apologized and said I was working 7 days a week, and felt bad, and that I did want to meet up with him. He freaked out, accused me of the same, “world revolving around me” syndrome, but then flipped it and said he didn’t have time to see me and why did I expect him to drop everything for me?
Two years ago I was working on a project and a friend wanted me to drive an hour each direction to have coffee with him and I kept saying, “I can’t, I have a deadline” he would reply with, “It’s only coffee, you don’t have an hour?” I would say, “I have an hour, I don’t have three for the drive.” He didn’t talk to me for 2 years.
Last summer a girl I had recently met and I were going to a Dodger game. I had an unexpected deadline come up. I asked her if she could wait FIVE MINUTES so I could sent the file to my boss, and she didn’t She refused to wait, called me a flake, bitched about me to everyone and let the ticket go un used. She couldn’t wait FIVE minutes? She was like “You work and get off at a certain time and that is how it is done.”
The point of all this, and I am not playing the victim-it happens to everyone who works a lot-especially in entertainment. ALL of my entertainment friends talk about this with me. Their spouses, their friends and family don’t understand.
Chuck Lorre makes reference to it in his vanity cards, Bill Prady talked about it the other night, the working all hours, sleeping over, never seeing your family. It is part of it. I have friends on Grey’s Anatomy that literally sleep there breaking the stories sometimes. In animation when it is close to the end, we would sleep over, or work 18-22 hours a day. It is how it is done.
To be fair, I am not going to apologize anymore, because I could not see my life any other way. I love not knowing what I am going to be working on. I love working late nights and ordering food in. I love being spontaneous and going out last minute when I get a night off. I love the breaks, I love the flexible hours, so to the people in the real world-if you can’t deal with it, don’t be close to people who work in entertainment.
To the aspiring writers, actors, producers, animators-this will be your life. This business is not one of 9 to 5 with weekends and holidays off. It is long hours, many over nighters, last minute deadlines and meetings, it is never being able to plan things. It doesn’t mean that you don’t care about your family or friends,but it is part of the business and you have to know what you are getting into.
I met an aspiring TV writer last week that said to me. “I am not going to work those hours, that is crazy.” Well then, to this person-you shouldn’t be working in TV.
The hours are long, think of it like lawyers and doctors in the real world.