Friday, August 22, 2008

3-Year Anniversary: State of the Astrid Address

Greetings, my fellow citizens. (Please note I did not say "netizens". I am not a dumbass.)

As the fabulous Javier has pointed out, this is the three-year anniversary of this blog, goddess help me. Or, since I'm an atheist, statistical probability help me. Sigh. Let's take a look at my first entry ever:

Monday, August 22, 2005

break my stride

So, this has definitely been a time of transitions, which I would normally embrace, if only it didn't involve losing so many friends. James has moved to San Francisco, Nicole is moving to Boston, and Sergio is moving to Ecuador. Ecuador! I've spent my whole life moving around, which has been great because I'd never really had too many friends to lose in any particular place, and each new school made me a tabula rasa, free to prove myself a hopeless nerd over and over and over. Now that I've finally grown comfortable in my own skin, my friends have decided to do the moving. Fate sure has a nasty sense of humor.

How do things stack up on The Astrid Frontier, three years later? Well, it's still a time of transitions, which I still sometimes embrace and sometimes resent, plus ça change etc. James was in Hong Kong the last time I checked, but he's probably back in NY by now. I haven't spoken to Nicole in a while, a state of affairs which needs to be rectified. Sergio came back from Ecuador and is still doing his thing in East LA. Fate still has an interesting sense of humor.

So, let's address this fate/humor thing. I hadn't wanted to address it at all lately, which is why I haven't been writing for a while; every time I open my mouth these days, it's almost always to complain about The State of Filmmaking Today [now with Extra Fist-Shaking TM]. I'm angry about not seeing a return on my investment of time, energy, excitement, funds, and hard work. I'm scared that this isn't just bad luck anymore, that I've done something terrible to bring this on myself, rather than acknowledging that independent film production is out of money, the market is saturated with DPs and wannabe DPs, the landscape of cinematography has cheapened to the point where a DP is increasingly considered lower in value than an indie director's el-cheapo video camera, few people are willing to innovate in terms of story and visual language and will only shoot paint-by-numbers horror/reality TV in order to see a razor-thin margin of profit, and I was simply blinded by dreams of gazillion-dollar union shooting when I entered the film program at USC in 2000.


And then I stubbornly refused to do anything other than production after graduating -- I was a cinematographer! No editing or being an agent's assistant for me! No doing anything besides following my talent and passion! Sigh. So much for ignoring implacable market forces. Everybody I know who went into the non-glamorous, non-saturated areas of editing or assisting can still make a living doing so. Double sigh.

Point is, I hate myself when I'm angry and bitter and scared, because I enjoy my company so much more when I'm happy and zany and carefree, and so do other people. I need to snap out of this, pronto. Maybe take a yoga class, or run away to Botswana (I hear it's delightful), or shave my head, or start a cult, or do interpretive dance on the street for money. Maybe all of these things simultaneously.

While I mull over these possibilities, I shall indulge my pressing need to make a list of things about my life as it currently stands. For each piece of evidence I list that my life is crappy, I'll also list a piece of evidence that my life is noncrappy. We'll see how this turns out....

Evidence that my life is crappy #1: I no longer shoot movies.
Depressing but true; I had to face the fact that I wasn't shooting much, and on the rare occasion I was shooting something, it was for minimum wage or less. I can't live like that, which was why I finally signed up with a temp agency. I worked as a switchboard operator for a few weeks in May/June, which made me hate my life and want to die, although I also discovered that I am a stupendously awesome switchboard operator. I pointed out to my temp agency rep that (ahem, cough) I also have a design background, and for the rest of this summer (at this very moment, in fact) I'm working as a Global Brand Consultant for a multi-billion-dollar corporation, which shall remain nameless.

Evidence that my life is noncrappy #1: I'm a global brand consultant for a multi-billion-dollar corporation, which shall remain nameless.
The people are great. I can pay my bills reliably. I'm learning a ton. I talk to folks in London, Paris, and Indonesia; they all hate me because I tell them their products are off brand, but they also love me because I am witty and charming and I offer helpful pointers on how to make their products on-brand. They also love my humility.

Evidence that my life is crappy #2: I'm out of a job after Sept. 5.
Not much more to say about this, really, except that there's currently a vacancy in the Internet dept. of my company involving online video, for which I'll be applying. We'll see.

Evidence that my life is noncrappy #2: I have my health.
I felt a tad lame writing that, since it seems obvious and silly. But you know what? It's NOT obvious and silly. I love being healthy. I'm in tiptop shape (to the best of my knowledge), and I feel fabulous. Except about the incipient not-having-a-job part.

Evidence that my life is noncrappy #3: hope, mixed with a zesty dash of uncertainty.
Alas, I can't really go into detail on this one. It's a career thing I'm trying on for size over the next few months, and if it goes well, I'll mention it more here. If it doesn't go well...let's not contemplate that, okay? Okay.

Evidence that my life is noncrappy #4: My boyfriend is nifty.
And none of your business, you voyeur.

Evidence that my life is noncrappy #5: My immediate family is alive and kicking and I love them to pieces.
They're so supportive in so many ways, it's amazing. I honestly don't know what I'd do without them.

Evidence that my life is noncrappy #6: I just had a fascinating (if truncated) conversation with Hugh McGrory.
He's a filmmaker. And Irish. And I've yet to meet him in person. And it would seem his cell phone's battery leaves a lot to be desired in the staying-powered department. Still, he's having oodles of fun this week in Silicon Valley, and he'd asked me to shoot interviews for him at Stanford and Adobe, which I couldn't do because I have a goddamn 'job' (shut up, I know), and also because I'm already overextended with the aforementioned 'other career thing' -- grr, argh, gnashing of teeth. Anyway, he likes midgets. And technology. And my cinematography, which proves he has excellent taste. His work is very compelling, go check it out.

Evidence that my life is noncrappy #7: Hugh showed my website today at Adobe, and (according to him) they said things like "Lovely colors!" and demanded the link to my reel.
Honestly, you don't get much better than that. Rockin'.

So, what's the score?

Crappy: 2, Noncrappy: 7.

Huh. Not quite what I was expecting. I guess I need to try on optimism for size, walk around in it for a while and see how it fits, since the pessimism is starting to get rather worn and shabby. I also need dinner. Excuse me as I roar off into the sooty-yet-golden Lost Angeles sunset, tearing up the highway with KPCC on the radio as I dream steamy Zankou dreams.