When we last visited our intrepid hero, he was about to complete his summer-long journey of endurance athleticism. Against larger-than-anticipated odds (SPOILER ALERT), he survived – even thrived – in completing said journey (more on that later). He was riding a high. He was very proud. Justifiably, even.
His summer project over, his 38th birthday behind him, and a new/recently revised, thoroughly optimistic outlook for how to proceed pushing him forward, he was ready for the pending growing flurry of the work ahead, both the kind that paid him a regular salary and the other personal and professional projects to which he looked forward.
And then … for some reason … he started describing himself in the third person. And not just on Facebook where it was actually grammatically correct.
Let’s put an end to that for this post, at least.
On Oct. 2, like nearly a million of my fellow New York City inhabitants, I found myself a member of that club to which I really didn’t want to belong. (And I say that lacking all Groucho-style irony.) After eight years of involvement, working my way up from a volunteer to seasonal staff to permanent year-round employee, from audience usher to logistical and operational director, from pre-screener to programmer and panels producer, my association with Tribeca came to an end.
It was not by choice, and the timing was far less than ideal, but like the rest of the industry – and especially the festival world – budgetary concerns came into play, and somewhat understandably, my position was one that no longer made sense in a permanent capacity. But those are the only negative things I’m going to say. Like anybody, my job had its share of difficulties and frustrations, and from the New Year through early May, it literally took over my life. I didn’t love every element of my job all the time, but I loved (and still love) the festival, and I hope to watch it continue to grow (not necessarily in size as much as maturity) and thrive.
When I first started working there as a paid employee, it was after five years of misery in a job I truly hated. My first year as a seasonal employee with the festival as the Screenings Production Coordinator, I was making half-as much and working twice as long as the paper-pushing position that was my normal day job at HBO Sports. I was exhausted and by the time that year’s fest was over, I was also physically injured. And yet, I loved it, because I was working at and towards something that was truly important to me. Returning to HBO Sports post-unpaid leave-of-absence was depressing. (For the record: HBO Sports is a great a place, and I worked with really nice people there. But the job was not engaging to me at all, and as relatively cushy as it was, I hated going to the office every day. I only took it because I had returned to school to finish my undergrad degree and needed a 9-5, and for that purpose, it was perfect. But then, I found myself stuck. Thankfully, I had a generous and understanding boss who let me take a leave to go work Tribeca.)
The best thing about working at Tribeca was the people, internally and externally. I loved the opportunity to get to know new, up-and-coming filmmakers and make real discoveries of talent I hope to be able to see working for years to come. Few things were more fun to watch than a nervous but excited first-time filmmaker introducing the thing he/she had slaved over for the last however-many-years being projected onto a big screen in front of a public audience. Additionally, I made some great friends at work, people who will stay with me for (hopefully) years after. There’s a great team in place, and I’m sure they will continue to produce an event that this – the greatest city in the world (well, after hometown San Francisco maybe?) deserves.
I’m also very proud of the mark I left on the fest, from developing the Behind the Screens and Pen-to-Paper conversation series to improving our audience’s logistical moviegoing experience to always trying to create the most enjoyable participation scenario for the festival’s thousands of volunteers.
My career has never taken a direct path towards the destination I have had in mind since at least my second year of UCLA, two decades ago. In its own way, my time at Tribeca was actually a detour in itself. I can examine and reexamine the various choices and paths I’ve taken, especially since leaving Los Angeles and moving to New York 13 years ago, but what’s the point. (In fact, my 13 year move-to-New York anniversary is just four days away.)
So now I’m in the unenviable (but recognizable to too many) position of having to readjust once again. Time to draw a new map to a slightly adjusted path. That means looking for other sources of income. A new permanent job would rock. One back in the world of development and production (like where I started in New York, at HBO NYC all those years ago) would be ideal, but in this industry and economic climate, I’m not holding my breath. But who knows … I’ve lucked into a few jobs by happenstance, coincidence and lucky timing over the past 17 years; maybe another one is waiting for me around the corner … or the weekend. I can only hope.
In the mean time, I also plan to really spent more time in my long-neglected little corner of the interwebs, and I actually have a lot to say, starting with the conclusion of my triathlon tale, before jumping back into more cinematic/televised/theatrical/who-knows endeavors.
In the mean time, just envision me in one of those sandwich boards saying “Will watch movies for food.”