Ten Things I've Done Since the Layoff

Big changes in recent months: the cute little title insurance company at which I’d worked was bought out by a big, glamorous title insurance company, which shut down our corporate office and sent us all packing.

At first, I had a pretty plucky attitude about this. I badly needed to stop dithering and shift back into the entertainment industry (a film degree isn’t good for much, but it’s a whole lot more relevant in television production than in title insurance), and sudden unemployment provided me with the perfect opportunity to do just that. Also, the unemployed downtime would, in theory, give me an opportunity both to launch into a big new writing project and to focus on getting an agent for Charlotte Dent.

The best-laid plans of mice and Morgan: it hasn’t worked out that way. Here are things I’ve done since getting the boot:

Rediscovered how shamefully wretched I am at job-hunting. Extensively rewrote and reworded my résumé. Applied and applied and applied for production jobs online. Heard nothing back. Reminded myself that nobody finds entertainment jobs by responding to online postings. Reminded myself that all my prior production jobs came via recommendations from people I know. Damped down my lingering USC issues and went to a career fair at the film school. Felt old and out of place and loser-ish amongst all the fresh-scrubbed recent graduates. Made a game attempt at chatting up representatives from studios and production companies. Came away with nothing to show for my efforts, save for a free t-shirt (thank you, Disney Interactive) and a rejection letter for a job I hadn’t applied for (thank you again, Disney Interactive).

At the urging of an agent, rewrote the book in first-person and resubmitted it to her. She passed on it anyway. Shopped around the new first-person version to more agents. If anyone suggests it might work better in third-person, the brilliant Dan Liebke advises I go on a Batman-esque spree of vigilante justice. Sounds good to me.

Decided to audition for a community theater production of Pirates of Penzance. Spent a couple weeks getting my unused coloratura soprano back in fighting condition by trilling about my apartment (“Climbing o’er rocky mountain/Skipping ri-vu-let and fountain”), thoroughly annoying my neighbors in the process. Gave myself innumerable pep talks. Trekked out to the auditions. Couldn’t find the auditions. Slumped home in disgrace. There’s a metaphor about my entire summer in here somewhere, but I’m too discouraged to root around for it.

Went to Spokane for a trip down memory lane. Spokane, to the best of my knowledge, does not have a Memory Lane. It does, however, have both a Candy Cane Lane and a Christmas Tree Lane. Spokane’s sort of awesome that way.

Failed to update my blog with anything resembling staggering frequency.

Starting from my apartment in the Miracle Mile district, walked to Glendale, just to see if it was possible. Answer: possible, but not optimal, at least not on a hot July day. After a long, dusty trek through Hancock Park, through Hollywood, under the 101 Freeway, through Little Armenia and Thai Town, through Los Feliz, along Griffith Park, over the 5 Freeway, over the Los Angeles River, and through Atwater Village, I ended up in Glendale, heat-sick, dehydrated, and thoroughly sorry for myself.

Watched too much afternoon television. Assembled my Law & Order (Original Recipe) All-Star Team: Jerry Orbach (of course), Jesse L. Martin (because he’s a song-and-dance man at heart), S. Epatha Merkerson (because she’s a Battlestar Galactica fan), Sam Waterston, Jill Hennessey, and, for a touch of controversy, Diane Wiest over Steven Hill.

Brainstormed ideas for a new screenplay. Got distracted and derailed. Wrote a slash-fiction story under a pseudonym instead, which some kind soul (or souls) nominated in four categories for a slash fiction award. Have yet to return to work on the screenplay, most likely because it does not involve Sylar groping Mohinder inappropriately. Perhaps that’s the entire problem.

Furthered my love/hate relationship with Battlestar Galactica. Watched as the list of characters I still enjoy following (joyously despicable Baltar, foxy Felix Gaeta, scary/sweet Six) got dwarfed by the list of characters I’ve grown to despise (vindictive Roslin, ineffectual Adama, self-absorbed Starbuck, self-righteous Apollo). Attended a Los Angeles Times-sponsored screening/panel, where I stood in line for far too long for far too little, but met some pretty awesome people in the process. Decided to put the kibosh on attending any more fan events, as I don’t like long lines or big crowds, and I’m genetically incapable of squeeing at the appropriate squee-worthy fan moments.

Got excited over the slew of promos for the new season of Heroes, especially the one featuring Mohinder dangling from the ceiling whilst shirtless. Decided there was nothing so awful about Season Two that couldn’t have been fixed with judicious doses of naked Sendhil Ramamurthy. Got less excited over the promo featuring HRG lecturing to a petulant Claire about the Great Evil Out There. Realized I haven’t missed HRG and Claire much during this eight-month hiatus. Hoped the writers really, really work on making Claire a better (read: less odious) character this season.


Anonymous said…
Good luck on the job search-I may be joining you, albeit in not so creative a profession. I work for GM at a truck assembly plant (just a factory rat), signed on a house about 24 hours before the CEO of GM announced that the company is cutting back on truck production by 300,000 a year. We make approx half that in one year. The idiot CEO didn't go into specifacs on just how he's gonna accomplish this. There are about 2700 people in Ft Wayne wondering if they'll have a job this time next year.
I agree with you on Diane Wiest over Steven Hill. It seems all Adam Schiff did, was say "You can/can't do that, Ben/Jack," make a miserable face, and walk off down the hall. Nora was more active, I think...someone you didn't cross, least that steel fist come out of the velvet glove! And, on occasion, it did, to good effect.
Claire, though...although I really loved the "are they or aren't they doin' the deed" with her and Jack...she just whined too much. She was just TOO much of an idealist. Serena, I think, was more like Jack...an idealist who realized, you don't win all the time-and that it hurts, not winning. She and Jack worked well together, even when they argued-and she wasn't afraid to stand up to him. I think they both ended up really liking one another, may even have been the kind of friends who work together all week, then call each other up to invite the other over on Sunday to watch the game-"you bring the pizza, I'll buy the beer." Part of her really wanted to win, part of her wanted what was right. I think she was as ambitious as Jack, smart, and knew how to treat that fine line when you're a woman working with older men. You need to let them know you have a brain in your head, but you can't damage thier egos. In the end, though, even that got trumped by doing what she saw was the right thing.
And, I always wondered...Jack told her, his wife (apparently #2) divorced him because of too many late nights at the office. Did the wife think Jack was fooling around with another assistant? If so...would have been great, to see her face when he told her, Serena was gay! LOL!!! Face it...it'd be nice to see EITHER of Jack's wives!
I wish that JAck was still and ADA, so he could face Serena in court, on some civil rights case involvong gay rights. It'd bee a hoot, to see Jack trying to stay one step ahead of someone who knows all his tricks, and has some of her own. AND...where was Jack the night she got fired? Since he was against it, did he think he had Branch talked out of firing her? Was he just too chicken to stick around? Are they still friends?
THAT would be a neat script....
Get to work!
Morgan Richter said…
Thanks for commenting -- I hope you don't get laid off! It's a little bit scary.

I wish Diane Wiest had stayed on longer. I liked how she managed to be both laid back and no-nonsense. Serena was pretty awesome. I know some critics considered Elisabeth Rohm the weak link in the cast, but I thought she did a nice job -- I've liked her ever since she was on the first season of Angel. And I agree with you that she worked well with Jack. I would have been happy if she'd stayed on a couple more seasons, too.
Cordelia said…
Hi, I've been lurking for ages (I came for Horatio Hornblower...I stayed for the writing!) Anyway, jsut wanted to say how monumentally I feel for the job hunt. I'm in TV (in London) and God, the constant competiton sucks. Update your blog more frequently with your free time, wont' you?!

I passed through Spockane on a shoot not so long back, most gutted to miss the hotel you mentioned before!
Morgan Richter said…
Hi, Cordelia! Thanks for commenting. Job hunting is wretched and difficult, especially in television, and I don't seem to be doing it very well. I also don't seem to be doing a bang-up job of updating my blog regularly -- I had this great plan when I first got laid off of cranking out posts on a near-daily basis, and... I have no excuse, apart from my natural sloth. I'll try to pick up the pace.

Yeah, if you ever find yourself in Spokane again, definitely try to stay at the Davenport. It's pretty spectacular.
Cordelia said…
I had a moan to my line producer a while back about how job hunting doesn't seem to get any easier even after being in TV for awhile. He said that at first you can't get jobs because you're inexperienced and then once you're experienced you're too expensive to hire.

Most encouraging, I think you'd agree.
Morgan Richter said…
Heh. Yes, that pretty much sums it up. This is the example I use when people outside the industry ask me why it's so tough to get a television job: several years back, I was working on a show when, in the middle of our production cycle, the network unexpectedly ordered more episodes. We had to scramble to hire more production assistants to cover the extra workload. Even though we had an abundance of qualified applicants submitting their resumes to the production office on a constant basis, we didn't even consider, much less interview, any of them.

Instead, we hired a couple of PAs who'd worked on the show before but had done a notably poor job, and in fact were suspected of stealing equipment from the set. It was easier to go with people we already knew, no matter how marginal, than to take a risk on a qualified but unknown applicant. Downright discouraging.

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