The American Way (circa 2013): we kill ourselves working an ungodly amount of hours (most of which are spent watching cat videos) while we try to "compete" with Japan. Or is it China? Is Russia still in the picture? Who cares. We're all a bunch of lemmings who are conned into spending The Best Years of Our Lives
attached to a computer screen doing something a well-trained baboon could do, while we sit on our growing asses, moving in departmental herds through the maze of bleak hallways, hunting for and grazing on that day's celebratory ice-cream cake, and using up our best creativity fantasizing about the different ways to off our co-workers.
And for what? Rent money. And why? Cause a steady bunch of competitive greedy assholes are graduating from business schools all over the country ever year and see the entire world as one big Scrabble game, human lives included. And we let them!
It was leaked this morning that Yahoo!
is eliminating the option of working from home starting in June. Marissa Mayer, the famous pregnant CEO (she already popped), believes that it will inspire more creativity and productivity when employees are working in closer proximity for longer hours together. Though on paper (re: back-lit monitor) this makes sense, I can't help but think of my own pet project wherein I've been studying my personal productivity and creativity. As an artist with few resources and time (see above: The American Way) it's important for me to know the exact ideal surroundings for creativity and the exact moment when it's time to quit for the day and rest/live. You may already know the answer, but suffice it to say, a bitterly cold office with crap lighting and uniform furnishings chosen by other people - plus the requirement to stay seated and stare at a computer monitor - does not an ideal creative environment make. Now, I've done what I can to change the feel of my allotted nine sq.ft. Please see decorative picture below:
Why, yes, that is baby blue ticking stripe fabric pinned to the wall by thumbtacks and a bird lamp purchased at TJ Maxx, so sweet of you to notice...
But the one thing that is literally killing me are the long hours. My patience for pretty much anything taps out at six hours (I would've never survived the first screening of von Stroheim's Greed
- I would've stood up, slapped that fucker, thrown up on him, and walked out to the nearest bar). On Monday I left work at 2:30 to go to acupuncture. Luckily, my lovely acupuncturist always runs an hour late, so I sat in the waiting room reading about lovely things in her books and magazines, smiling at how I couldn't possibly return to work until the next day. I had a blast. I felt energized - so energized that I stopped by 23rd street on a whim to obtain a spelt bagel and read a few pages of my book. I didn't crawl home like I usually do and opt to just eat hummus for dinner cause it's easiest. I felt alive, like part of the living! I felt so good that the next day I thought for sure I could even cook something when I got home from work! Here's what actually went down: at 2:30, six hours into my daily tenure, I was ready to get up and do something else. But wait a tick, my contract requires that I stay until 5:30 because the phone may ring at any moment!
Or there could be, *gasp*, a FedEx delivery to sign for, or someone may generally need their ass wiped by the support staff (re: me). So I tried to focus and do three more hours of work. I barely pushed out one email. I managed to half-heartedly organize something. And then I dragged myself to the gym where I had to cut my workout short because I didn't have the energy. And then I went home, collapsed on the couch and ate hummus for dinner.
No amount of ticking stripe fabric can save a genuinely creative person being worked to death by The American Way. And all those people who spend 1-2 days a week working from home? They're bright people who inherently know that should they be forced to spend more than 30 hours per week with people they have no familial relation to and didn't choose to marry, then their creativity and productivity actually suffers. So, in conclusion, and on behalf of all Yahoo!
employees...dear Marissa Mayer: I have an exhausted widened ass you can kiss.
Thank you so much to everyone who has donated so far! We're nearly on schedule: only $1,000 left to get to 25%. Please help us spread the word
so we can get there by Wednesday (the quarter mark).
Making this film is the hardest and most important thing I've ever done (taking the SATs is a close second, which tells you something about our warped education system). Here’s why:
1. White Alligator
is my first film. I do not yet have a proven track record or
fancy-pants introductions to big studios.
2. It takes a lot of money to make a movie, but you need a track record to get said money (See #1.).
3. I've had to bleed my friends and family dry in the worst recession of my (admittedly short) lifetime. With more and more celebrities using Kickstarter
for their projects, we newbies are fading into the wallpaper.
4. The networking is killing me. (I'm naturally shy.)
But you know what? It’s all worth it. And here’s why:
In the process of making this film, a lot of people have been telling me their stories. When you take on a cause, you become an ear for the unheard voices. Although it is difficult for me to listen to these stories (I’m awfully sensitive), I know how vital it is for them to be told. Because injustice thrives on silence. When you are not heard, you start to lose a sense of your own humanity. And then you're toast.
Here is the latest story, which just happened to one of our cast members.
She was in an acting class last week. Halfway through the class, the instructor separated the students into groups based on nationality. I have no idea what he was trying to get across, except maybe trying to teach them their "types.” (I hope a shudder just went through you when you read that: actors routinely get "typed".) She was the only Spanish speaker, and when she introduced herself, the teacher had the gall to ask her if she was legal. Later, when she asked if there were many opportunities in film for a woman her age, he said that of course there were because everyone else her age is dead.
This is a teacher. A teacher. And this woman paid her hard-earned money to take this class. And these things happen all the time.
She called to thank me for making this film. I thanked her for sharing her story with me.
I realize I've been away for a while, and I do apologize.
I've been busy since the beginning of the year preparing for our shoot that now happens on Monday! Just three days. I've taken myself out of the producer role for a few days now as I try to adjust to the actor mentality. Naturally, drama is going to float downstream and I will catch wind of some of it (especially when the one producer left is my husband). And as we gain and lose crew...gain and lose cast...gain and lose our sanity like the flowing tides, I have to reflect on how far we've come and what we've been able to do.
We set out two and a half years ago as a small group of intelligent and incredibly capable actors who wanted a little bit more control over their careers. I had written this script for fun (writing having been a hobby of mine for the past ten years--though now I think it's taken a turn for the more serious), and I suggested we make it on the fly. I really should have known that with a group of type A personalities, nothing 'on the fly' is going to fly.
The script was about my personal struggle with being a white-skinned actor who was born in Puerto Rico, but had lived in the United States since I was 5. It was only after college when I became an actor that I began to face obstacles due to my ethnicity because well-intentioned people in the entertainment industry assumed I could only play Hispanic roles.
Why do I say 'well-intentioned'? Well, I had agents trying to find where I would best fit in. They were trying to get me work and saw a burgeoning Latin market. I had casting directors who were honestly very nice people trying to give a young actor a shot and felt that a Puerto Rican would stand a better shot of being cast in a Hispanic role. When a manager asked me if I could wear darker foundation, she was sincerely trying to sell me as best she knew how.
Unfortunately, these circumstances caused a deep well of anger to build every time walked into a waiting room for an audition and saw a sea of dark-skinned actors (most of whom weren't even Hispanic) lined up to audition for the latest thug/hooker/maid-of-the-week. It was anger at the world for what it still is, anger at the circumstances of these actors who had no power over how they're seen, anger at all the people I've ever met who have so thoughtlessly questioned me over the color of my skin because some movie told them exactly what a Hispanic person is supposed to look and act like.
So I went to a coffee shop (mostly Joe's on Columbus and 86th--I was between jobs probably) and wrote down all the ridiculous stories that I had collected having to do with my ethnicity. I wove them together into a narrative and White Alligator was born.
Fastforward nearly three years and this has now become a torch that we all carry and so many people have been recruited to carry that. It is no longer a fun project that a bunch of actors are putting together, but rather a Great Hope that if this movie hits mainstream, we can change the world. We can encourage other projects to do race-blind casting, and we can encourage a lot of people to open their horizons and see that ethnicity really is only skin-deep. And underneath this silly little layer of epidermis, everybody has the same hopes and dreams and desires.
And all the original players that are still involved and have come with us such a long way on this project now have those same dreams that this will be the project that will open the door so that they can make more significant projects that might change the world in other ways. And all of this might make us the artists that we were born to be instead of meager players with no say over the course of our lives.
But I guess that's what happens when you put a bunch of type A personalities together and give them a story. It is now a collective hope. And I am personally thrilled and inspired to be working with such brilliant, artistic and dedicated warriors.
May we someday (soon) be toasting these very words at Cannes (or some such--like the White House).