“Just another manic Monday” is playing on the radio as I drive the studio’s rented white minivan to pick up the kilt and circle glasses wearing ginger costume designer and drive him to the studio. I am a production assistant, all of the sudden.
Don’t ask how I ended up with this job in my short stay in New York City in the Winter of 2017. It just sort of fell in my lap. I was intrigued by the alluring idea of working for the wardrobe department of a TV show. How glamourous sounding. It was a month long gig with Steiner Studios, which is part of Warner Brothers, and I would be working during the filming of the “Deception” pilot.
The premise of the show was pretty goofy if you ask me: magician with a failed magic career turns to helping the FBI fight crime through illusions.
My first day on the job I had to drive the costume designer, who had worked on the costumes in Zoolander (think Mugatu), to a craft store filled with sequins and feather boas, to look for fancy belt buckles for a straight jacket he was designing, see pilot trailer. I found this very funny and enjoyed walking around the store, holding the bags of fancy buckles, zippers, and fabrics for my leige as he perused the store.
I quite liked the designer, it was his assistant that reminded me of Meryl Streep’s witchy assistant in The Devil Wears Prada. She wore the most heinous clothes, in a style someone described as “power clashing.” It was hard to take her seriously with her pseudo-couture puffy sleeved dresses from H&M, rainbow zebra print sweaters, silver beatles shoes, and “hurry, hurry, hurry,” stressed out attitude.
It was surreal, working for her. Coming from my laid back California upbringing, it was difficult to for me to play the butt licking (thanks for that image, Brother), hustled, sniveling servant role I felt was being expected from me as the lowly production assistant.
“Hurry!” Puffy sleeves would text me while I sat in bumper to bumber traffic on my way back to the studio from Manhattan. My response was usually something along the lines of “I’ll get there when I get there,” which in retrospect was definitely not a good thing to say, but I just wanted to mess with her because she was so high strung. Oops. Had I aspirations to climb the ladder in costume design, I would have been more willing to play along, but I wasn’t; this was a novelty for me, an experiment, an experience I quickly learned I would not want to repeat. Thus, for me the interactions were just annoying and horrible, since many days I would have to miss tap dance classes because I was working. That is the last time I will let a cool sounding job and money distract me from my purpose, which during that 3 month trip to New York was to learn tap dancing.
Not surprisingly, driving to and from Manhatten to return or pick-up items from fancy stores multiple times a day, spending a small fortune (of company’s money) in parking on the daily, getting home late after spending 45 minutes looking for street parking by my apartment at night, got old really fast and I wanted to quit.
Eventually, I got fired. Thank goodness. I actually hugged the designer when he let me go. I had been searching for a way to quit, but was trying to stick it out since it was only a month-long gig. I lasted 3 weeks. Puffy sleeves quit about 3 weeks in also, before I was fired, I’ll have you know, because she wasn’t getting along with the show’s producers and writers, who had strong opinions about the clothes she was picking out and basically weren’t letting her do her thing. It was the replacement assistant costume designer who let me go.
I was happy, but it kindof sucked the way they fired me. I worked a long day, til about 8pm, and as I dropped off the designer where he needed to be, he told me they were going to find someone else, someone with more experience as a production assistant, and that I needed to turn in my keys right there, take my stuff out of the car, and leave without the car. I was happy to do all that, it was just lame because they left me off at night, in the snow, to get home from a place that was pretty far away and not on my subway line. Jerks.
All in all it was an interesting experience. I got a great introduction into the world of television, gained experience driving a minivan in New York City, took some cool photos, met people, made a little money, and now have this story to tell.
It was real and it was fun, but it wasn’t real fun.