Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Life is tricky.

Things are moving so fast sometimes I don't have time to reflect back on what's important and what's going on. I went out last night to a co-workers birthday party here in SF. It's the only time I've been out with co-workers since I started in September.

He has a 3 year old son who is just awesome. Smart, cute, funny. And it just made me want to cry.

Also tasted some bittersweet betrayal yesterday.

I sent a first draft script to what I thought was my friend in the marketing office in China for her to give me some comments on - mostly culturally. I told her this was for her eyes only - and of course - the notes I get back is that everyone at the office is very worried.

She showed it to everyone.

Now this office is gunning for me a bit already. I don't play politics or games... so it's kinda tricky...But whatever. Judas passed on my script.

Needless to say I was sad and angry and .... who knows.

The general concession is that the script was too soft. More image than hard sell - which this company is used to. So - in truth - I agree. Its hard to take a group used to showing, saying, telling, pointing, yelling and saying again exactly what they want you to do - and instead give them a big image piece. So what was I thinking anyway?

And as my genius wife said - if everyone liked it, would you still be mad?

Not as.

Even still. I like the protective creative bubble of discovery and discussion that happens seconds before your innocent doe-eyed script makes it out in to the big wide world and shot down in the road.

This is why writers groups are genius. I have a great group in Dave, Ryan, Blair and Bill. They never hesitate to tell me what an idiot I am in thinking that something is ready to go out when it isn't.

Your group is the first line of defense against your own worst instincts.

But they are also the ones to cry in your beer with you when the world refuses to acknowledge your brilliance as well. So I feel sort of out on my own on this one...

There is a lot of pressure. We have to get a ton of scripts ready for the big shoot at the end of the month. Being China - we also have to get them approved by not only the star - but by the Government and each individual station as well. And we would like to do this before we shoot so that we don't waste too much time on things we can't do.

And the China office wants all this sooner than later. And they're just getting back from Chinese New Year. And I need to get all the US office sign on as well.


I keep waking up at 4 and not being able to go back to bed. That doesn't help me at all with getting ready for China next week.

On the good side:

My wife finally got all her paperwork out. Hopefully we can get her visa/passport stuff cleared up in time for her to come visit me in China.

I am getting a dual processor Mac - so that I can run both windows and OS at the same time on the same computer. Maybe I wont have to carry two computers everywhere now...

Well. Back to work. I'll try not to puke.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Do you know....

Where you're going to....?

I don't.

Stayed up to watch the awards last night. Kinda fun. Loved Will and Jack's little musical number. Loved Eastwood and Morricone. Loved Scorcese.

Didn't at all love waking up 3 hours later to drive to the airport.

Tons to do this week. As usual - it doesn't stop.

But with that -

I've been asked to A.D. a big commercial in Shanghai for a major car brand. The production company was looking at me to partner up on some big spots coming down the pike. They asked me for some names of AD's I might suggest - and I told them that they needed to be careful - because AD's in China are not like AD's in the States - and I said - believe me - cause I have experience. Meaning - working with bad AD's in China.

They took that to mean that I had experience as an AD. And offered me the job.

Not that I couldn't do it. While I've always worked with an AD - coming from the East Coast and doing things on the cheap - I usually AD myself. Working for Discovery and trying to do 11 pages a day - you learn how to use your time and move quickly through a scene.

So yeah. I could do it. That's not to mean its to be done.

(Sorry. Had to board the plane. Now - yesterday becomes today and I finish this post on Tuesday morning....)

I've been approached about a film in China as well. The people involved seem really great... but thanks to email - there is a series of confusions that have left us in a weird place. But whatever.

I am staring down the barrell of a month long trip over to China. Starting next week. Thank God - my wife will come over for a couple of the weeks. We've been married forever - and the only time we've both been apart from the kids is for 3 days at a bed and breakfast a few anniversaries ago. This will be crazy - even if she is so tired all she can do is sleep all day and stay up all night...

Because this is the last week in the office - things are crazy. I'm trying desperately to get my creative done - concepting, scripting - for my second meeting next week with my big star. Too much to do and no time.

On a happy note: Do you like music?

AMY WINEHOUSE - oh my gosh - I can't stop listening to this girl. English girl with a biting wit and a dirty mouth that sings like one of the Supremes. Both of her CD's are incredible....Do yourself a favor and get them. Watch a video of her on youtube... Rehab is the song of choice right now for those in the know...:)

ARCADE FIRE - their new one is out? or coming out? either way - its great.

And to remember why we are all writers:

Incredible story on fractured narrative. This is the kind of thing I like to write - only because I like the Chinese Puzzle Box story.

Back to the grind.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


No one under 35 will even get that joke. Pitiful... :)

As someone in the business - though it could be argued if that is true - even if I am on the very fringe of the business - I should at least spend one day commenting on the Academy Awards.

Here's the thing. I don't really care. I saw a lot of films this year. Even most of the nominated films. But the idea of the awards show doesn't really thrill me. I'm sure there will be some interesting stuff. Some funny jokes. Even a surprise or two... But in the end - who cares. I wasn't nominated and no one I know was nominated - so I'm not hugely invested in it.

But. A lot of people do care. And since church was cancelled cause of Ice Storm - I have some time on my hands.

Here's my picks for the top catagories: (not who WILL win - who I WANT to win)

Best Picture:

I saw all the nominees here except Letters from iwo Jimo. Go figure - I spend all my time in Asia - and I don't see the one Best Picture film about Asia... Here's my take. I loved Little Miss Sunshine. Thought it was really fun and really good - but also really surprised that it got nominated for best picture. It sure doesn't feel like a best picture. I loved amores perros and 21 grams - but was not as impressed with Babel as I wanted to be. It was a film I looked forward to almost as much as any coming out this year - but I just didn't think it was as good as it should be. And the links in the stories were tenuous at best. The Queen was incredible. Much like the Insider - this was a movie about a topic I couldn't care less about - but I thought it was just great. I saw this on the plane - twice actually - and still can't believe how good it was. The Departed was great. I loved it when it was in Cantonese and called Infernal Affairs - and I love it in English when it's called the Departed. While I would watch all these movies again - The Departed is the one I would enjoy the most again and again.

WINNER - the Departed.

Best Actor:

Again - I saw all the films here except for Peter O'Toole in Venus. Everyone here is a great actor - and while I would love to give it to O'Toole again - since all he has is an honorary Oscar - I didn't see his performance. Out of those I did see - They were all good. I really didn't like Blood Diamond. Its an OK film and DiCaprio is good in it - but I thought he was way better in the Departed. Whitaker is a lock to win here - and he was great - but it was a showy role. Will Smith was good trying to stretch in Pursuit of Happyness - and I liked the movie more than I thought I would - but my money goes to Ryan Gosling - in a movie that probably not many people saw - but for me was the movie of the year. This is a thankless role so grounded that its hard to even call it acting. I love this kid and he is gonna blow people away more and more.

WINNER - Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson.

Best Actress:

Again - I saw all but one - Judi Dench in Notes on a Scandal. She is awesome in everything she does - and I'm sure this is not exception. Penelope Cruz was good in Volver - and for once - I was able to understand her because there were subtitles. Her english is inperceptible to me. She's beautiful - but incoherent. Meryl Streep is always good - and I actually enjoyed Devil wears Prada - but wasn't this a supporting role? Little Children is a little masterpiece. It says more about the human condition that 50 films and Kate Winslet was great in it. But it's Helen Mirren's year - and she deserves it.

WINNER - Helen Mirren in the Queen.

Best Supporting Actor:

For the first time - I have seen all the films in this catagory. And I think these are all great performances. Jackie Earle Haley in Little Children is so freaky and so good - it will make you lose sleep. And his story getting back into film will make you cry. Djimon Hounsou is good - but again - I didn't like Blood Diamond. Mark Wahlburg is incredible in the Departed. Its such a real - fun performance - and he goes balls out in it. I love this. Eddie Murphy is great too - although I can understand why people might be upset. I didn't like Dreamgirls near as much as everyone else - and though Murphy is incredible - he's not in the movie enough. His singing and dancing are great - but the movie wasn't all that to me. But you can count on the fact that Eddie will win tonight. Alan Arkin is my fav. He is hilarious in this - and brings a lot of pathos to the role. And even though he isn't around at the climax of the film - his presense is felt long after his departure.

WINNER - Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine.

Best Supporting Actress:

Damn that Notes on a Scandal. So I didn't see Cate Blanchet - but, again, she is always great - so I don't discount her. Out of the other films - everyone was good. While Jennifer Hudson will win this award - I don't think it's deserved. She was good - but her acting still leaves a lot to be desired. Abigail Breslin was great in Little Miss Sunshine - but she was not award worthy. Both actresses in Babel were awesome. But Rinko Kikuchi was amazing. For being an unknown - for learning sign language for being naked for most of the movie - she was great. My vote would have gone to Shareeka Epps in Half Nelson - but she wasn't even nominated.

WINNER - by default - Rinko Kikuchi in Babel

Best Director:

Didn't see United 93. I even own it - but with all my plane travel - I still can't bring myself to watch it. Go figure. I love Clint - but didn't see either of the Iwo Jima films. Leaves me with three choices- and I already said I was dissappointed with Babel - so that leaves the Queen and the Departed. If you had to ask me which would be more difficult - taking a film about a real life event and making it interesting - or asking Scorcese to do another gangster film - I would tell you the Queen was a more difficult choice - and Stephen Frears deserves praise for what he did. But the Departed is so much fun. And Scorcese is overdue - so what the heck.

WINNER - Martin Scorcese for the Departed.

Since most of us here are writers - I pick Little Miss Sunshine as the Best Original Screenplay and Borat as the best adapted. Borat is the funniest movie of the year - and if you didn't go see it - then shame on you.

That's it. Enjoy being bored to death by the oscars tonight. I have to get up at 3am to catch the plane back to SF - so I'll be thinking of all of you drunk celebrities enjoying your moment in the sun while I drive through the snow to the airport.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

By the Power of Greyskull!

I have the Power!

I am home. And that is so good.

I know it won't last but it is great.

And instead of writing about it - I'm going to enjoy it.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Where is the love?

All apologizes Emily...

In my never ending quest to bring you all things clown...

From my buddy Blair - and the BBC:

Colombia clowns killed on stage

Two circus clowns have been shot dead during a performance in the eastern Colombian city of Cucuta, police say. The attacker jumped into the arena and fired before fleeing, police chief Jose Humberto Henao told Efe news agency.

Local reports say the audience of about 20 people, mostly children, thought the shooting was part of the show before realising both men had been killed.

Last year, a prominent circus clown, known as Pepe, was also shot dead by a unknown assailant in Cucuta.

The motive for the latest killing remains unclear, police said. Local media reports suggest two attackers may have been involved.

One clown was shot in the head as he performed on stage, about an hour into the Circo del Sol's evening show.

The second, named as 18-year-old Franklin Leal, from Cucuta, was then shot as he stood by the ticket booth, according to the newspaper La Opinion.

The travelling circus had set up in a suburb of Cucuta, capital of Norte de Santander province near the Venezuelan border, about 10 days earlier, the paper says.


I don't know what kind of world we now live in - but anarchy is all that's left.

What's next? Puppies and kittens?


In other news -

My multi billion dollar corporation got down on its knees and put all their hard earned cash into my hot little hands by pushing through my Chinese celebrity. Hard to believe that I can suggest something that ends up in the presidents hands one day and is approved the next.

Thank God they have no clue who I am.

We are green lit people.

Next month gets crazy with 5-6 shooting days in China. Now we are in a desperate race to get everything put together and get over there to start planning.

Hope all is well on your end.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Its all how you sell it

Here's a funny thing about this business if you don't know it already.

Confidence covers a multitude of sins.

If you tell someone you can do something - most of the time - they will believe you if you say it in a way that implies you have confidence.

When I started in this business - I had a mentor of sorts.

I did a film in grad school that did pretty well. We were in a number of festivals around the world and placed in about 13. Won a TV arts and sciences Emmy. Placed in the Student Academy Awards. Was in the New Directors/New Films in NYC.

And after that?

Couldn't get a job. Nada. Zip. No one gave a rat's ass about jack. Or Greg, in this case.

So I became the world's worst grip. The most enthusiastic grip every - but a blundering idiot on many other levels. The grips finally tired of me - and I became a commercial art director. Really more of a set decorator - because when there was actual building to do - I had to call in others to do it.

Finally - after two years of struggling - Bob Malseed - who at that time was the head of Ad Sales at Family Channel - watched my movie. He brought me in and talked to me. He was a director. Started in commercials. Wanted to do more - but ended up with two kids and just kept advancing coporately - and basically hated his life and his job. And he took me under his wing.

This guy was a good director. And a great mentor. He would throw huge projects at me immediately and then sit back and go over them with me - talking about what I did right - and where I could improve. Never saying - Oh I would have done this... just things I should look at and things I should try differently.

He used to say to me - like the dread Pirate Robert's in the Princess Bride - Good luck on the shoot Greg. If it doesn't work - I can't hire you anymore. And then send me out with an unlimited budget to shoot 35MM commercials for giant companies.

It was trial by fire - but it was always us against them. He was a great boss.

The other thing he told me in that first meeting was this.

Always say that you can do anything that you are asked. And then call him to find out how to do it if I really didn't know.

I have passed that advice on to many since then. Always say yes. With confidence. And then call someone with more experiece.

Now granted - say yes within reason.

But it is and was a good rule.

What's funny - is that I usually play things the opposite now.

By no means do I see myself as the Yoda of production. I have been lucky enough to spend more days directing and producing than most people who still toil away in obscurity. I've been doing this almost 20 years now... scary. But I don't promote myself.

A headhunter tracked me down for this job.
They recommended me to the SF company.
I flew here and interviewed.
Then the SF company sent me to LA.
LA interviewed me.
They hired me.
I have been flying back and forth between those two and China for 5 months.

No one ever asked me to speak Chinese to prove that I can.
They never even asked for my reel to see if I can produce/direct.

I think it's funny.

Granted - I can speak Chinese and I can produce and direct. And even write a little. But I'm midwest and I don't like to toot my own horn.

And - bigger still - I love the idea deep down that maybe I coulnd't direct and produce and couldn't speak Chinese - and that I spent 5 months at a company that doesn't know that I can't and that this is really all a big scam on the level that you should always tell people yes you can - and then they never bother to check if you can or not.

Are you a Mexican or a Mexican't?

In the Shanghai office - they are all nervous about whether or not I know what I'm doing - mostly because I don't play corporate politics and kiss the boss's butt. The marketing girl said they really are nervous about me.

Just how I like it. :)

She asked if I had a reel. I did and I showed it to her. Just to her. She said I really should show her boss - cause she thought it was great. I told her no.

She smiled. That's just like you. It's your personality.

I guess now that I'm here - I like to have the opposite effect. Because the business is so full of crap - I go out of my way to not promote myself.

NOTE TO SELF: This is why you toil in obscurity.

In the back and forth of coporate politics - I choose to stay under the radar. They don't know what I'm capable of - and I'm not going out of my way to tell them. I'm going to do my big China show with no one paying attention. And when its done - then they will find out what a huge and utter failure I am and what an incredibly giant scam has taken place right under their very noses....

Hopefully - that last part will be a lie. But who knows?

I don't know what it is about being older and a bit crankier... but I wouldn't recommend this to all you youngsters out there. Playing the game is such a big part of this business. I just don't care for it. And I don't do it.

Now go and don't do likewise....

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Whatever doesn't kill me...

Still hurts like hell.

(Can you imagine trying to market a Russian Roulette toy here in America? Gotta love the Japanese... :))

So didn't blog yesterday. I know. Sorry. I was still jet lagged on Sunday - wonder why? I tried, but couldn't go to sleep on Sunday night. I finally fell into bed at 2:30 - but had to be up at 3:30 to be at the airport by 5 to catch the plane by 6 to get to SF by 9....

She swallowed the cat to catch the spider - she swallowed the spider to catch the fly...

I don't know why she swallowed the fly... I guess she'll die.


I show up here and immediately the boss wants to see me. Corporate wants my company's sign off before they push this big celebrity shoot through - and my company wants a bunch of reports from me - as well as all the creative and budgets and schedule - all by the end of the day.

I'm going on an hour sleep by this point.

I grab a Full Throttle and jump in. 2 hours later - my hands are shaking so bad I can't type.

I produce a hell of a lot of paper work - and by the end of the day - I still don't have it all.

There are a couple people in my professional life that I just can't get a bead on.

I have interviewed people around the world for different shows. I've directed all sorts of actors - and I feel as if I can sit with a person and at least get a feel for where they are coming from and what they need to understand me and me them.

My old Boss at Discovery was crazy. You couldn't tell if he was going to tell you he loved you or if he would throw something at you. Often in the same meeting.

My new boss here is not that bad - but what they like to do here is have you come in and tell them what you are doing and they will immediately jump in - as you are pitching - and tell you why you're an idiot.

Like I need her to tell me that. That's what my wife is for... :)

I had one of the creative directors looking over my pitch before my boss showed up and she was there as I had to pitch the thing on the fly.

It started out horrible - with my Boss jumping on everything telling me what I was missing - how this had nothing to do with that - how I was just not getting it... and then it started to come around - and maybe because I survived the volley of blows and still kept standing - she finally understood what I was talking about - and she decided I was ok.

Or maybe she wants me to really fail badly so she can fire me.

She called corporate and told them that they thought we were ready - that the creative was good - and that it would cost more. But they should be ready for that. And now corporate has to run it up the tree - but we are 90% there.

Go figure.

I still am not sure what happened. The creative director just kept saying - wow... that was awesome. I felt like I had to talk someone down off a building - and I'm still not sure if they jumped or not.

Either way - looks like were heading back to China for a big shoot.

Now I just need more sleep.

Monday, February 19, 2007

A pleasant surprise

I'm home.

The trip back wasn't bad at all. Thankfully - everytime I fly internationally - get to go business class. This may seems crazy - considering the cost of my flights adds up to the more than the cost of my production - but it makes such a huge difference. When you change day and night - you really want to arrive feeling relaxed and refreshed - not wedged between the fat man man and the stinky guy for 14 hours straight.

Sadly - I did have to drive the 3 hours from Chicago back home - in a car without heat, no less. I've found that its really not bad to be in the car for an hour at a time - but for three - I arrive home with my nose running and shivering.

But thanks to Presidents day - I get to spend the day with the family. There is a ton of snow outside, piling up - but it's nice and warm inside.

I ended up in bed with my dog and my daughter last night. My son was projectile vomitting - thankfully no head spinning - and ended up on the couch with my wife.

But here's something strange and fun.

Two or three years ago - when I was just getting into bed with the people who eventually would be with me when my film completely fell apart - I flew out to Utah to work with the guy who would eventually be one of the producers on the movie. Which eventually fell apart. But at the time - neither of us knew that.

He was producing - or as his title now reads - co-producing - a movie called the World's Fastest Indian - with Anthony Hopkins. He sent me the script - written and directed by Roger Donaldson - and I thought it was nice - but didn't see what the audience was.

If you haven't seen or heard of it - the movie is the story of Burt Munro - true story - of a guy from New Zealand who - in his 60's - makes his way to the Salt Flats of Utah with a motorcyle he cobbled together and breaks the land speed record.

Its a fairly inspirational story - stretched out for two hours.

My friend asked me to come out and work - and since I was broke and starving - with no idea it would still be another year and a half before my film would eventually fall apart - I took him up on it.

While I had been producing and directing for 12 years at this point, my friend knew nothing about me really - except that I had this script. I was assigned to another friend of his who was the Production Supervisor for the Salt Flats sequences.

The climax of the film takes place on the salt for Speed Week. We had over 300 vehicles coming from all over the country - most of which were there on the salt in the 60's when the film took place. The people bringing these cars were all vetrans of speed week and were totally excited and fun people to be around.

I was assigned to take care of them and then cars - and make sure that every shot was full of stuff. I worked pretty close with the Production Designer - and I even would sit at the monitor and watch the shots with the director and then redirect the background to fill it more.

It was a heck of a lot of fun - and I really enjoyed myself. Anthony Hopkins was a great guy - making time for everyone and just being very very pleasant.

In the end - while they wanted me to stay on - I spent a little over two weeks there. My son's birthday was coming and I needed to get back.

What's strange is: I never watched the movie.

My friend kept asking me - and I never picked it up.

Funny thing is - it played on the plane yesterday. And yes - it does have a lot of charm - and yes - Anthony Hopkins is great - but yes - I still am not sure who the audience is for it.

But strangely enough - in the end credits - even in the plane version where things fly by at the speed of light -

There I am. As a Production Coordinator for the Salt Flats.

My first big screen credit.


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Happy New Year, Pig!

What better way to usher in the New Chinese year than James Bond in his red underwear?

You wanna tell Sean Connery that he looks silly? Not while he's holding that gun.

So picture this:

I'm sleeping like 2 to 3 hours a night - and last night it all catches up - and I fall into bed at 8.

I was walking a lot yesterday - after a morning and afternoon of meetings. I try to keep myself up by going to Pizza Hut - where I know it'll take at least 30 minutes to make a pizza - and read my book "Thank God you're Funny" By Phil Rosenthal - a really incredible book about sitcom life by the creator/producer of Everybody loves Raymond. I'm coming back to the Hilton in the elevator with my bag of leftover pizza, my book, and my ipod blaring - and this old Chinese guy is riding up with me.

Pizza on Chinese New Year? He asks.

Yeah. Pitiful huh?

That's life alone on the road - he says.

And what was really a great day took on a sad and wistful quality.

SO I fall into bed at 7 on the 30th floor of the Shanghai Hilton with the curtains wide open looking out on the expansive lit up skyline.


After I get my massage and blog on Thursday - I think there is no way I won't sleep through the night. I had been up since three - grabbed the massage and went to bed. Unfortunately I was wrong. I woke up at 1 am. And didn't go back to sleep.

Went into the office at 9 for a pointless phone call with the States. Worked in my office here for what was supposed to be just the morning. Then I would go back and sleep till our meeting with the Big Chinese Star that night at 7.

Not to be. The boss comes in - after we kinda have a big fight about schedules where I never hide my feelings well and usually go off the handle. Today was really no exception. He comes in and talks for 2 hours straight about all the problems he has and how things are really tough. And they are. He is in a horrible position - and while we don't see eye to eye on much - I do sympathize with him. I guess he just wanted someone to listen to him who doesn't work there... I don't know.

I end up being there all day. The boss really wants to come to the meeting - and everytime it comes up - I ignore it - I know he wants to come - but he is a speechmaker and everything comes back around to him. And tonight everything should come back around to me... No... It should be about the Star and what she wants and if we would accomodate her.

So I finally left to go back and get ready - which really - for me - just meant shaving. I don't do that often. Once every week and a half. But she was a Star - and I didn't wanna scare her too much with my Western Hairy ways.

We were set for 7. I was trying not to fall asleep. I shaved and got ready - and found out we were rescheduled for 9:30 - which meant we would meet at 9. I read some more of my book and waited.

Finally met up with my Marketing team and we headed over.

I have met up with Asian stars before - but not at this level. I have directed some big American "stars" but I still get a bit nervous. You have to have some connection that you can draw on and hope that you can get on the same page.

She didn't show up till 10. We were told she would give us 30 minutes - cause she had been filming a commercial all day. She stayed for an hour and a half. There is a reason why she's a star. She's pretty, funny and smart. She's a mom with two kids - but you wouldn't know. She controled the room. She's written 5 books - so she has a lot to say.

But she wanted us to bring in a director from Taiwan to do the shoot.

I was introduced as the producer. No one said anything about me also being the director. Everything was great - we even got dates to shoot - but then she left and we had to talk to the managers - one from Taiwan and one from Beijing. I explained that I was the director and if she didn't want to work with me -that was cool - but we would probably find someone else. Not because I have a big ego - but because I don't have the time to find someone else that knows the brand - and because - I'm paid to direct.

They left - promising to call us in the next couple days.

We sat and debriefed a bit more. By this time it was past midnight - and we had to call the Boss and let him know how things went. By 12:30 we had a call from the agents.

She was fine with me directing. My marketing girl said it was because I was Taiwan.

Who knows?

Still had two hours back in the room of emails back to the states. I had now been up over 26 hours - with only three hours of sleep in the past three days. American company is freaking out - cause they are big - and they can't move this fast. Not sure if they can get a contract ready and get everyone on board quick enough to make this happen. So who knows. I just do the work - they can decide what they want.

I fell into bed at 3:30 - only to have a crazy old Chinese lady bang on my door at 6:30 am - telling me there was a car for me downstairs.

She wouldn't leave.

I finally told her to go away after getting up and talking to her.

And I couldn't go back to sleep.


So I wake up last night - and it sounds like the world is ending. Like the Germans are bombing England. And I look out the widescreen TV that is my window - and the night is alive with light.

Its midnight in Shanghai. And fireworks are exploding everywhere. Some - right below my window.

I turned the desk chair and just sat and watched. I called my beloved family. And for 2 hours - I watched fireworks - till the entire sky was filled with smoke.

I love China.

If I was with my family more - I would love this job.

How cool is it? I'm doing what I've always wanted to do - just in China and in Chinese.

Close... :)

I get on a plane today to fly home to be with my family.

God is in his heavens and all is right with the world. I can't tell if I'm smiling cause its a crazy life - or I'm delusional from sleep deprivation.

Who cares? It's good to be alive.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Relax! Its a Cultural Revolution!

Don't want to say I'm doing great on the transition.

Yesterday - I was up at 3:30 AM - stayed awake till work at 9. Put in a whole day at the office - and came back to the hotel about 5:30. I puttered around - went out - came back - and started falling asleep at the computer about 7:30.

By 8 I was out.

So it is no surprise that now - at 1:30 AM - that I am wide awake.

Unfortunately for me - I have a full day of work and meetings tonight...


So when I got back from work - I was walking around and next to the hotel is JB massage. Now - for those of you who remember my Beijing trip in January - I decided to get a massage my last night in the city.

The problem was - within 5 minutes - I fell asleep and don't remember anything about it.

There was absolutely no problem with that this time.

This place caters to Westerners - as it is within a block of the Hitlon - and it has English all over the walls. Sometimes - its nice to pretend I don't speak Chinese - as then I can just sit there and listen. So I thought that might be cool. Plus that had a big sign up explaining Thai massage on the door - and seeing as how Chinese massage put me right to sleep and I was effectively trying to pass time and stay awake - I figured that Thai massage might do it.

Ok. I never said I was smart. In fact - regular readers can tell you that I am pretty far from it.

So if I had to translate what Thai massage meant - it would be this:

The massage of pain.

For the entire hour - this poor little Chinese girl kept saying the same thing:

Fa shao. Fa shoa le.

Relax. Just relax...

I don't know about you - but I find it difficult to relax when someone is beating you with their elbows and knees. I find it hard to relax when someone jumps on your back and digs their toes in your spine. I find it hard to relax when someone makes you bend down and lock your hands behind your head like you're getting arrested and then flips you up in the air with their feet in your back while spreading you open like a Thanksgiving Turkey.

Does that hurt? Is that too much?

I was speaking in all manner of tongues - Chinese, Taiwanese, German, English, Nonsense, Ebonics.... anything really to beg her to stop.

I thought - this is really brilliant. Effectively this massage is retribution for thousands of years of imperialism by the West. This is revenge for opium. For anything.

At one point - after she had me laying on my back - while she grab my arms and stretched them out behind me as far as it would go - while jamming her toes in the small of my back and lifting my chest up off the floor - I really believe I starting crying.

I think I denounced all my teachers, my parents, my God and family - and certainly my country.

When I left - they were all smiles - taking my money - and in exchange giving me a little red book and a blue hat with a star on it.

So welcome back to China! I stumbled back to the hotel and melted into bed. I don't know if I fell asleep as much as I simply passed out - and that's why you really relax. Cause you're just so happy the pain stopped.


I meet Yi Neng Jing and see if she is the one.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007


I made it here.

Amazingly - the flight took off. It was really snowing hard... and coming down everywhere. To get from the Hotel to the airport took 40 minutes - and it was only 4 miles away...

Long flight. Extra long - coming here. 14.5 hours.

I slept about 4 hours - so I'm really sleepy now.

Gotta get out and walk around a bit and see what's near the hotel.

Tomorrow starts early - 8:45 - so I gotta be up and running.

It was in the 50's when I landed. Supposed to be getting colder.

Celebrity is on Friday - so one day to prepare...

Smiles all around... :)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sad and pathetic

I've been reduced to crazy pictures of cats.

Long day. Longer story.

Started out great. Had breakfast with the parents after dropping the kids off at school. And I literally mean - I dropped the kids off at school - not like I dropped the kids off at the pool...If you know what I mean.

Got the wife and stopped by the library - and then went into Ft Wayne for our little Valentines Day together. We wanted to see Music and Lyrics - but realized it doesn't open till Wednesday. Thought about going to see Night at the Museum - but instead decided to just spend time together. So we sat in the bookstore.

After coming back to town - had a little parent teacher conference about my son. He's a dreamer and a drifter. But it is first grade. Teacher was just letting us know. She said he could go either way... Same was said about me. Many times. Even to this day....

Then the panic set it.

Saw the weather and suddenly there is a huge storm headed for us. 12-18 inches of snow - and white outs on the highway for tomorrow. Of course - I'm supposed to get up in the morning and drive to Ft Wayne to try to fly to Chicago. Which would be in the middle of the storm.

So instead - I try to do the right thing and be Proactive...So I call and let them know about the storm and how there will be problems - and I offer to drive over here myself - 3 hours - tonight - so that I have a better chance of catching the China flight tomorrow....

Instead they offer to change my ticket to coach and don't wanna pay for my hotel.

Should have just sat all day in the airport tomorrow and smiled as I missed two flights.

Instead - I wait around for them to make a decision - which finally comes in around 8:00 EST - and that was - get on the road towards Chicago - we will make a decision later.

So I jumped in the car and headed over here.

About 9 - they called and finally had a hotel and flight. Go figure. Penny wise and dollar foolish.

One day I will learn. That's the difference between a company guy and an indy freelancer who is used to trying to anticipate and do the right thing... and always getting slapped in the face for it.

Of course - what do I know? I wired on Full Throttle and ready to face a snow storm and a trip to Shanghai...

Better shut my damn mouth and shove it full of invisible knuckle sandwich.

Hopefully more from China later...


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Angry Unicorn!

Those who wronged me shall be peirced by my horn of justice.

Big switch since Friday.

Things were looking a little bleak.

While I am finally coming to grips with the fact that I might actually make the trek to SF and live - I still am fighting it every step of the way. If it wasn't for the fact that the people at this company are so stinking nice and cool - I definately wouldn't do it. But they are - and they're cool too. So go figure.

Doesn't mean its gonna happen though.

Filled out paperwork for benefits. What are those? Crazy....

And after hearing that we are having some business troubles in China that could potentially gum up everything we are doing over there - I was really suprised that at 5pm Friday - I got the go ahead to buy a last minute ticket to head over there this week and meet our big celebrity.

Wanna see her?

Here she is....


Jammed a lot of work into the last hour trying to get things ready. Still not too ready - but somehow everything will work out.

Now - its just home with the family for a nice relaxing day. After church of course.

Then - the craziness continues.

Friday, February 09, 2007


I don't know where this place is... but it's not in Indiana...

Speaking of which - I went out to dinner last night with the Germans.

The International department of this company has grown by leaps and bounds. Before I came - there was a German girl and a Japanese girl. I was third. Now there is another German guy and another Japanese Guy.

And for China - there is still just me.

The China stands alone... the China stands alone....

We did what any co-workers do - which I guess is complain about work and their bosses. We are all management though - so we complain about ourselves as well. Productive!

The German guy is an older gentleman. 50 something. But a great guy. He has been producing political activist documentaries for years. Always very edgy. He is really cool and has so much experience and approaches everything with sort of a bemused grin.

Like me - he has been freelance all his life.

Both of us chaffe against the corporate side of things. But we are learning to adjust... maybe just a little.

And being here in SF is kinda funny. I bought a whole slew of T shirts in China with a communist theme - Pictures of Mao, red with the big yellow star, and various propaganda posters. I got some for the kids too - cause something brings a sick smile to my face to see my kids wearing those to school in the middle of small town Indiana.

Out here - people get excited about them. They want me to get them some.

Not exactly the reaction I wanted.

In a place like this - I smile a lot and don't talk too much about anything political or religious.

Of course - in Indiana - I do the same thing... :)

Time for breakfast... Gotta get me some Negro while its hot....

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A case for balance

Life would be so easy if everyone just thought like me.

Why is it that the older we get - we still make the same mistakes?

Why can't we open up a bit and try to see the world from someoneelse's perspective?

It's 2007 and I'm still astounded by the ignorance of the world - and even more impressed with my own ignorance. None of us ever learn. Especially me.

It's just so hard to open up to things we don't understand.

I was on the shoot all last weekend with a 23 year old kid from Austin. He's here in SF doing a documentary. He's a great guy - smart, energetic - and really gifted behind the camera. But he's going through stuff - got a girl back home - he's young - and trying to figure out life.

He told me yesterday he always thought that if you had problems in your life you need to buck up and get better. Now - for the first time in his life - he could understand why someone might want therapy. It might not just be that easy to fix yourself.

My wife has some issues. Nothing we talk much about - but she would tell you if you asked. Depression. OCD. Serious enough that she takes medicine - and it helps - but doesn't really get to the bottom of the issue - and really - I don't know what will - if anything. Its how she's wired. I love her - no matter what - and its just part of our life.

But its hard for people to deal with that. They think medicine is nonsense. All you have to do is pick yourself up and go. Stop whining. Get up.

Sometimes its hard for me. Just get happy. How hard is that?

Recently another great friend of mine has been going through something similar. He's a thinker. A deep thinker. All the time. What does God want from me? What should I be doing with my life? I keep struggling with the same things... God should just take me.

Serious serious questions. No easy answers. Overwhelming questions to the point of affecting his health. All I can do is try to be there and to pray.

I understand where they're coming from - but I'm rendered helpless. All I can do is listen and try to be a friend. I see them struggle and it breaks my little Grinch sized heart.

I tend to not think so much. I think about the day. And then, the next day. Any more than that starts to hurt my little T-Rex brain.

For people with a glass half empty - its hard to find grace. With those of us with a glass half full - we don't bother looking half the time.

Balance is so hard to achieve. And sympathy and understanding for those not like us is almost impossible. We go through life finding something to claim as ours - and rarely have time to look or spend a minute thinking about the other side of the fence.

There but for the grace of God....

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Owned by United

That's an angry dog. And I know how the dog in the air feels - cause I got jerked around like that yesterday.

It's been a while since we had a tragic airplane story. But this being my life - there is nothing much left except shoot disasters and airplane stories...:)

You got part one yesterday as I drove into the airport in -26 degree weather.

Here's part two:

SO I was to get on a 9 am flight from Ft Wayne Indiana to Chicago. Because of the time change - we would arrive in Chicago at 9 - and then I catch the 9:50 to San Francisco and arrive at 12:30. I get my bag - jump in a cab - and high tail it to work for a 1:30 meeting.


So it starts when the flight is delayed to 9:30. Still feeling slightly OK - cause in reality - its only a 28 minute flight. Only problem is I gotta get from the F concourse to the B concourse.

But I've OJ'd it through airports - and by that I mean - killed a lot of blonds on the way to a plane.

Unfortunately - once we got on the plane - we had to get de-iced. By 9:50 we were airborne.

Now - I have nothing against fat people. Some of the funniest comedians are fat people. But it is hard to sit on a 24 passenger plane with tiny seats next to a fat person. This lady was big. We couldn't put down the armrest - because if we did- it would deny her the half of my seat she was spilling over into. She was too big to put on a seat belt - and the stewardess didn't even both to ask her to try. She couldn't put her tray table down more than 45 degrees.

She was a big lady.

Needless to say - I was slammed against the side of my seat. And on the small planes - I have to put my bag under the seat. Plus it got hot - so I had to take my coat off.

Did I mention that I'm claustrophobic?

So the 27 minutes feel like 27 hours.

We begin our descent into Chicago - and then for some reason - we don't go down. I can tell we're circling. And then the next thing we hear is that we are being diverted to South Bend. Chicago has decided that it's too cold to land.

We land - refuel - but we can't leave the plane.

We find out that to land now - we need a pilot with low visibility clearance. Guess what? Ours doesn't have that. But don't worry. There's a pilot leaving Chicago any minute who will come here and fly us in.

So we sit in the plane waiting for him. For ANOTHER TWO HOURS. I don't wanna say the whole thing was spent in a cold sweat - but I will say that Fat girl - who has a bag she is clutching that reads - and I swear the typo is real -


written in pen all over.

She proceeds to tell me she is on her way home after telling her deadbeat husband that she was leaving him yesterday. For two hours.

Trust me - I am a very sympathetic man. But yesterday - I had no choice. And after all that time talking with her - I was starting to agree with that pen written assessment.

Finally - after two hours - they decided to let us out of the plane and into the terminal. We were able to relax for 40 minutes and then we were told we had the pilot.

Everyone cheered and climbed back through the snow onto the plane.

Once we were loaded with our new captain - we were all buckled in when he told us that Chicago just closed the airport. But the good news was when they opened - we would be first to fly.

He told us he would check in every 30 minutes for updates - but he didn't want us to leave because it would take to long to get us off and on and we might miss our chance to fly in.

30 minutes became another two hours. I felt like I was a POW in Vietnam. And I learned a lot about pycho's life. Believe me - more than I ever wanted to.

Finally - the pilot gave up and told us to get off the plane.

By the time we walked from the plane through the snow to the terminal - we were told to turn around and get back on because we could take off now.

An hour later - after de-icing the plane - it proved true.

I landed in Chicago at 3:35. I had been on that 27 minute flight for over 6 hours.

I got re booked on the 5:00 to SF after standing in line at customer service for an hour - and then ran to the B terminal - only to be delayed on the plane there till 8:00. Finally got into SF last night at 10:30.


Longer than it takes me to get to China... :)

So after all that - today is gonna seem brilliant. Nothing is gonna get me down.

I don't know how many of you have ever seen the movie TOP SECRET with Val Kilmer - when he was funny.

There is a scene where he is being tortured by the Nazi's.

He has a flashback back in his delirium. He thinks he's in High School and that he's missed the chemistry final. He starts freaking out -

And then wakes up - and he's just being tortured.

He smiles and says:

Whew. For a minute there, I thought I was back in High School.

That's how I feel today...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

On the Road again...

I just can't wait... Uh...

Yes I can. I hate the road.

So it was a great day and a half. On my way back to San Francisco. Have a meeting within an hour of getting off the plane. It's how we roll.

For a bit of perspective.

It's -5 here this morning. Wind Chill is -26. Freaking cold.

I love my car. It's a 1993 Corolla. Has 165,000 on it. I bought it used in 1994 when I first started at Discovery. It still is great. Sat here at the airport in freezing temperatures for two weeks and started up like a champ.

One problem.

Thermostat is shot. The car thinks it must be warm - cause even with the heat on high - all that comes through the vents is cold air. Like freezing -26 degree air. I have to sit on one hand at a time to keep my fingers from freezing. And my face just freezes. I can't sit on it. Tears drip from my eyes for the whole hour it takes me to get in here to the airport.

And I thought I was being clever by packing in a tiny suitcase so I could check it before I get on the plane... but no. Even if you have liquids in your small bag - they can't go on. SO I had to check it.

It's a short week for me.

I'll be flying back home Saturday. This week I need to decide if I'm doing a mid month trip to China to meet with celebrities or not. If so - next week I'll do a Chinese New Year trip over.

No new news from LA - but I'm supposed to have a conference call this week with the people about the film in China.


IN honor of the disastrous weather - here's a disaster story.

While working for Discovery - I criss crossed the entire United States - and shot in every State - except for Nebraska. As long as people kept getting murdered - I was there with a camera crew.

We did a series for a couple years called Prosecutors: In pursuit of Justice. Yeah. Sounds better than it was. Actually the show was pretty good - but the Prosecutors weren't all I thought they'd be. Some were great. Others were political animals.


We were in Oregon. I was on my way from the airport - when I was stuck in a huge traffic jam. Seems there was some sort of giant fire on the side of the highway that had things backed up. I could see flames and smoke everywhere.

A hint of what was to come.

I arrive at the location for the interview.

A 100 year old courthouse up in a tiny town in the mountains.

I'm with a local crew. Good guys. Out of Portland.

We go through the typical set up. They light. I make small talk with the Prosecutor - who in this case, seemed to be a good guy.

While I'm sitting there, ticking through my questions - getting ready - the building shakes.

I look up, perplexed.

Does this place always shake like that when a truck goes by?

I see the Prosecutor's eyes get big.

I look over to the camera man - who looks up from the camera - and literally does a EYE POP from the cartoons - and then throws his hands up in the air and runs.

The sound guy follows - and then the Prosecutor.

I am kinda slow on the draw. I still sit there - thinking - Is this really an Earthquake?

I've been through at least three Earthquakes as a kid in Taiwan. This is my first full on adult earthquake.

Things start moving - we're on the second floor - and everything is falling. I catch a couple lights and ease them to the ground. Books are coming off shelves - and everything goes down. I make my way to the doorway - and realize -

I'm the only one in the building.

I laugh - cause we have no life insurance...If I go - I'll still be an idiot.

For what seems like minutes - the building rocks and shakes like a roller coaster. And then everything stops. Eventually everyone comes back and we do the interview. They all thought I was crazy - so that bought me a little respect and they actually listened to me for a day.

Later we found out it was actually a 9.4. Not bad... :)

We lived through it. That day anyway.

So for today - here's hoping there's nothing dramatic about heading West.

Monday, February 05, 2007

All in the Family

I'm home.

Thought I might not make it back.

We finished up our shoot on Saturday night.

Everything went well - for the most part. At this company - they are very sensitive - in a California type of way. We are talking to people about topics that they may find a bit embarrassing - so they typically only let ladies do the interviews.

Since I was producing - I asked to do a couple.

It wasn't looked on as a very good idea.

The first day - there were two guys. I interviewed both of them. But no girls.

The next day - I ended up jumping in for at least 4 interviews with girls by the end. I finally broke the sexist stereotype. Or so I thought.

I made one girl cry.

I mean - really cry. She was so nervous about being on camera - so just locked up and broke. They had to take her to the next room and get her drunk to get her to come back.

It wasn't my fault. Really. I promise.

The shoot ended and I had to take all the kids back to the hotel - since I was driving the 15 passenger van. All the way back - they yelled and screamed - happy to be in San Francisco from whatever part of the midwest to East coast they came from - and blasted the radio as loud as possible.

I felt really old.

Looking at them - I knew I was old. I felt more like a bus driver...

I went to return the Van after the shoot. Remember - I don't know anything about San Francisco. It was embarrassing - actually - because all these kids were in town for two days - and they've seen more of the city in that time then I have in 5 months. But I walk to work - and walk home - and its dark... and 10:00pm East Coast time by the time I get home... oh well - no excuse....

So I'm supposed to cross the Bay Bridge and take the van into Oakland. A shady part of Oakland. Near the shipyard. And then take a cab back to the hotel. Should be easy. Should be.

I got over there easy enough.

The problem is - the place I'm taking the van to - its set up in these giant warehouses. And they are located behind a big fence. With a really hard lock. I had the combination - but it was really dark - and slightly cold - so once I got it open - I decided - with my little reptile brain - that, since there was no one around on this abandoned road - to put the lock in my pocket - close the gate and put the van away. I'd call a cab, walk back, and lock the gate as I stood outside it.


So I parked the van and called the cab company. The number they gave me was for San Francisco. And they don't send cabs to Oakland. They wouldn't even give me a number for an Oakland cab company. I had to call 411. The first Oakland company wouldn't come out to me. They gave me a second company. That company didn't know where I was and gave me a third company. That company knew where I was - and finally sent someone my way.

I got out of the van - and this guy was standing there.

Who are you?

Uh... I'm just returning this van....

Did you just see those guys run in here?

What guys....?

Did you lock the gate?

Uh.... I um... have the lock...


I jump back in the van and go lock the gate. Apparently I let a couple crack addicts in who broke into one of the warehouses in - like - 10 minutes. They told me to get out of there cause they called the SWAT team and if I didn't want to answer a bunch of questions - just get in the cab and go.

I told them I was a PA. Not a producer... :) Once again proving that the producer can be the biggest idiot on set...

As I fell asleep Sunday - I saw there was a big fire in Oakland. Didn't stick around to see if it was my warehouse...


I did make it home yesterday for the Superbowl. Watched my Colts take it home. Barely... :)

My kids made me a welcome home sign. My dog about killed me trying to get to me. My wife is sick - so she pushed me out of the bed.... 4 outta 5 ain't bad... :)

It's 29 below here - windchill factor. So no school. Get to spend the day with the kids... :)

Tomorrow - its back to work. Today is all good...

Saturday, February 03, 2007

This is how we roll....


China represent! What!

Function rules - screw form. It ain't how you look - its how you get the job done.

Just another constant reminder that a little humility goes a heck of a long way.

People in this business love to tell you how great they are. They love to talk period. How they did this and did that. They are almost as bad as writers avoiding a deadline.

David and I can tell you stories. Back in the early days of our Discovery Channel shows when we would do reenactments with tiny crews smaller than a student film - that were airing nationwide in the next month. It was almost a joke.

And how that company grew - making shows like a tiny little Virginia sweatshop - with dreams of hitting it big.

Of making one of the worst dramatic series in the history of dramatic series. Shot on location - on film - doing up to 11-14 pages a day - 12-16 hours a day 6 days a week for 24 weeks. Dying on the vine...

I can remember Shawn and I walking in to a bank in T shirts and shorts with a couple hundred thousand dollar check that we needed cashed. We were getting ready for a big shoot in China - and we stood there with big grins on our faces - thinking just how ridiculous this must look. The tellers couldn't bring themselves to give us the money. They called the clients that wrote us the check. They asked the client to describe us.

They said - are you sure you want to give the money to these....boys?

We got the money. They apologized. We said it was fine. We wouldn't give the money to us either.... :)

Today was a long day.

I've been here at this company for 5 months. Besides directing some BIG STAR direct to cameras in Chinese - they have never seen me work. I'm relegated to a back office with the other people in international. They prefer to forget about the rest of the world. Nobody knows or really cares what we do.

I was supposed to handle two interviews today. I ended up doing four. People were really excited. Probably more like shocked - that kid has skills?!?!

I got a lot of compliments.

It feels good.

But I like to operate under the radar. I can name a million directors better than me. But not many luckier than me. I've been blessed with trying to make things work for peanuts. For taking crap and trying to shine it like gold.

When you go from that to people who can't do an interview without a 40 person crew - you seem like a genius.

But I think we all know the truth.

I do.

Cause - like China - it ain't about the flash. Its about the delivery.

Do your work. Put in your time. Pay your dues. Watch and learn. I still do it every day. And remember that every time you succeed - you still will fail twice as many times.

The only reason I'm hired now is because I've screwed up so much - I have the foresight not to make that same mistake again.

I'll make new ones. I promise.

Just don't laugh when you see me coming. You may dig on your Prius... But my horse truck gets some kick ass mileage - and besides the methane - we are much more environmentally friendly.

Gotta go. Call is at 5am...

Friday, February 02, 2007

Ah Choo

I have a cold.

But I'm getting better. I'm not dead yet. I'd like to go for a walk...

Early call today. We have a pretty ambitious schedule that I'm sure will somehow include a good deal of overtime... so there's that. Lots of clients flying in today to supervise. That always makes for a fun day.

Found out yesterday that new BIG star is producing a big film at BIG studio - but he is going to be reading my script soon. That sure sounds like something you would say to get someone off you back - doesn't it? But apparently its true...

Gonna have a conference call next week with the producers of the big film shooting in China. They're very interested in my contacts and might have a place to use me...

Today will be good. I hope. But it sure is easier to trouble shoot when you can afford to just throw money at the problem instead of having to actually figure out how to solve it...

Very nice.

Can I have a Kleenex?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I had a dream...

I mean, a deram. A draem. A... whatever...

There have been countless odes to the grass on the other side of the hill and what it looks, smells, feels and tastes like. We all assume that it must be the most beautiful, fragrant, lusciously deliscious grass in the whole world.

Know what?

Sometimes it is.

Growing up - I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up - but I sure knew I wanted it to be fun. I knew I wanted to be creative. Once I discovered film - I knew where I was meant to be.

One thing led to another - and a mix of blessing and luck - and I got to do a lot of really great projects. For 17 years - with a wife and two kids - I've made a very fine living off the scraps from better filmmakers tables.

But I know it can all crash.

Like when my Big Film all fell apart last year. We were sitting on a $10 million green light - and watched it go up in a puff of smoke.

So it helps to have a really healthy attitude.

But that's always more difficult that it seems.

One thing I can't stand is pretentious people and this business is built on the most insecure confidence that man can project. Ego drives the boat for most of them.

I know the truth.

The Director and Producer can be the biggest idiots on the set - and more often than not they are. Everyone else has a very specific job that requires a lot of techinical expertise. The director and producer can literally coast on the combined experience of their underlings and look brilliant.

Usually we just try to get in there and muck it up for everyone around us.

I like to try the humbler approach.

One commercial we were doing for a big superstation out of New York. It was a really cool spot in Black and White - all beautiful images - and everything was shot on Big Masters off a moving Jimmy Jib - which is a big crane.

We had the crane coming in from DC - and we had a bit of an issue. The guy that usually came with the jib was on a big shoot and couldn't come. They assured me that they were sending down someone who knew what he was doing - and the jib was on its way.

Now a bit about me. I don't dress up. I don't play the part of director - baseball cap, notebook, viewfinder, sunglasses... whatever.

This was summer - a hot day. That's shorts and a T-shirt for me.

The jib guy rolls in with his truck - and everyone is busy lighting the first set up. So I go over - tell him my name - and ask if he has the jib.

He opens up the truck - and the two of us start unloading the thing.

He says to me:

Dude. I'm so nervous. Do you know how to put this together?

I go - What?

Dude. The guy that does this thing is gone. They gave me directions off the internet. I don't know if I can do it?

I just smile and keep unloading. Lucky we had a guy who knew how it went together.

That guy just hung his jaw all slack when he found out I was the director.

Another time - after I paid dues for a couple years gripping and art directing - I was starting to get a lot of bigger commercials. I was directing a Domino's spot.

I called up a lady that did wardrobe in our area for a long time that I had worked with.

I asked her is she wanted to work on the shoot. Of course she did. Then she asked me if I was P.A.-ing the shoot. I told her I was directing.

Wow. She said. I guess you hang around long enough - anybody gets to direct.

Then she pauses a sec - and goes: No offense.

None taken.

Tomorrow - I'm producing a two day $200,000 shoot.

I'm starting the day by getting in a 15 passenger van and picking up all the talent and driving them to set. All the skills of a PA pay off again and again.

But you know what?

I love it.

Its the best freaking job in the world. So come on in. The grass is great.

Leave your ego at the door.