Since its inception, this column has at times deviated from the strict parameters that most “movie” columns adhere to. In many ways, my intention has always been to touch on more than the average movie discussion, as it is my belief that there is a link to the world of cinema in every facet of our lives. That said, I hope you’ll forgive me from straying a little further even than normal.
I’ve been working for a small photography agency for the past two and a half years. It has become an almost ideal situation for me. It is only a mile from my home, and I have been able to walk. The pay is better than any job I’ve had. I have my own private office, and very few coworkers to have conflicts with.
A couple weeks ago, I was informed that I am to be laid off, effective April 1st. Talk about a great April Fool’s Day. Maybe the day will come and everyone will pop out of a closet and shout, “Just kidding!” and everything will be all right again. Since there is virtually zero chance of this occurring, I must instead spend my time looking for a new job in what is effectively a flatlining economy.
As Americans, many of us view our jobs like relationships. Our office becomes like a home, and our coworkers like family. Many of us have a difficult time separating our personal lives from our professional ones.
Let’s take that idea, and turn it on its head: Since we are equating our jobs with relationships, I’d like everyone to think of a relationship they’ve had that has ended. It can be romantic or platonic. I’m sure we can all think of a situation in our past that we didn’t want to end, but now are better off for its demise.
Sometimes, to truly improve ourselves, we have to be released from that which we enjoy. There is an expression, often attributed to the writer Richard Bach, which says “if you love someone, set them free.” I know I am not the only soul to have been set free recently.
Therefore, we must all accept the inevitability that we are all in this together. No job is entirely safe right now, a fact that I overlooked until it was too late. What I think is happening right now is akin to a reset button being pushed. We have come so far in our excess that the only way to move forward again is from the starting line.
Every weekend I spend my mornings writing at a local coffee establishment. There are others like me who inhabit the coffee shops with similar intent. I call us “professional daydreamers;” those of us who spend our weekdays in a job that pays the bills, all the while strategizing about our creative work on nights and weekends.
One of these daydreamers is a guy named Frank. We talk, from time to time, about our writing and our thoughts about movies. Recently, I was feeling sorry about my impending unemployment, so I decided to strike up a conversation with Frank.
“Hey Frank, are you still working at Warner Brothers?” I asked.
“Not as of June 1st. They’re outsourcing our department to India,” he replied.
Him too, and the most criminal aspect of his situation is that Warner Brothers had one of the greatest fiscal years in studio history. It is inexcusable and irresponsible at a time like this for Warners to send American jobs overseas when The Dark Knight’s worldwide gross was $1 billion. These people have a responsibility to distribute their wealth back into the system at such a crucial moment in our history. Indeed, the movie industry as a whole is one of the only ones that’s virtually recession-proof. Box-office receipts are impressively high right now, yet the studios are still thinning out their workforce. So much for trickle-down economics.
Thus, the objective of this article is twofold as it relates to the current state of cinema. Firstly, we need our so-called “Captains of Industry” to be responsible in their business practices. I understand that many Hollywood investors also rely on Wall Street for their capital, but it’s time to invest in something tangible and valuable rather than in the virtual, Monopoly money of the stock market that has gotten us into this situation.
Secondly, those of us still on the outside should realize that we have been gifted an opportunity. We have been released from the relationships that have held us back. I have now been laid off for the third time in my life, and I have yet to reach my 26th birthday. Each time this has happened to me, it’s only reinforced my belief that I need to accomplish my personal goals and transform them into my professional successes. It’s time to turn these dreams into reality, and therefore fulfill the promise of our creativity.