Always do your research!!!

Well last week ended as eventful as ever. I decided to get out of London for the weekend and visit my family. They live about 2 hours out of London so I got the train Thursday night to make it for a long weekend. I got home around half 9, had a nice evening and was looking forward to a nice relaxing Friday – the hottest day of the year I believe. As I am relaxing in the garden my agent rings with the news of a great audition. It’s for a music video with a top production company, a well-known director and successful singer. The part, according to my agent, is written for me. She has no doubt I’ll get it so great news. The only thing is, the audition is that afternoon. After some serious consideration – mainly how much they were going to pay me and how heavily I would be featured –  I decided to go. Got back on that train in the sweltering heat, made it to the audition and delivered. It went really well and as I left I knew I’d got it. This may seem arrogant but it’s not really, it’s a feeling you soon learn to recognise, a vibe you pick up, although usually if I’m honest it’s the certainty that I didn’t get it… Anyway after that very brief visit in London I got back on the train and once again travelled home. When I did eventually get back, many people thought I was crazy for doing it and hoped that I did get the part otherwise all that travelling would have been for nothing. They did not need to tell me that!! But as the weekend went on my doubts began to rise, as is always the case. The longer you wait the more time you have to question and reflect on how you felt it went. Anyway, I put it out of mind and had a nice Saturday night out with friends and headed back to London the next day. Agent rings me first thing Monday morning to tell me I’ve got it and I am filming tomorrow. YES! Relief, although deep down I knew all along…

The filming went well, it was a long day, 16 hours I think, so I’m absolutely shattered. I’m at my office job today and not with it at all. But it was worth it, the director was really pleased with what I did and although I didn’t see any of the rushes I think its going to look really great. Everything would have been perfect and I was right near the end of the shoot before my mouth got me into trouble, once again. The singer was really nice and I managed to chat to her a little bit, when she wasn’t being fussed over. We were just about to film her last shot when we had a few minutes for the set up. So I went over and asked her how she was doing, was she pleased with today blah blah blah. Then I said…..” Great song, so is this the first off the album then?” and she shook her head and replied “No actually it’s the third, not a fan then?” And I literally froze, didn’t say a word, just carried on staring at her. It was ridiculous, why couldn’t I think of anything to say? Just one word…. But nothing and I also couldn’t seem to move either; thankfully her assistant came over and took her away. I’m not sure whether this was genuinely because she had something to do or because I was sitting there staring like a maniac, either way not the ideal end to the shoot…


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One response to “Always do your research!!!

  1. David

    Not, as you say, ideal. But I must say that I heartily despise those situations. Why is it in almost every circumstance we are expected to make small talk for the sake of petty politics? And why is it, when neither person really has anything to say in those situations, they still over-analyse what the other person says and take offence at anything they can remotely construe as a slight? Why is it we make one slip of the tongue on a subject of no consequence (in a conversation of even less consequence) and we are treated as if we had just accidentally avowed undying loyalty to Adolf Hitler? Why should a few trivial words make us feel as if we’ve just made an enemy for life?

    I imagine in your industry such politics are ridiculously important, since networking plays such a large role. I have not been privy to that industry myself, but I have seen enough of the forced grins, self-conscious conversation, and sycophantic behaviour to get a feel for it. I imagine the more you are surrounded by people ‘who are trying to make it’ the worse it gets: people who try to compensate for lack of success with a bad attitude and distract their unfulfilled ambition with these petty games.

    That being said there area always good honest people who don’t do that sort of thing. Gems in muck.

    But even in the most solitary and unstylish professions such as mine, some people indulge in this pettiness. I am an academic. A historian. My workplace is therefore filled with the geekiest and most socially-backward people imaginable. You would imagine they would be the farthest thing from champagne socialites. Yet the working conditions are the same. Guarded words. Forced friendliness. Gossip. The bitterest disputes. The deepest rivalries. Even factions who won’t fraternize with one another or ostracize one person or another from all social activities. All for next to nothing. God forbid you should say something rude, or careless, or even just candid. In a word, petty politics. Why all this subterfuge and all these power games are necessary to a group of people who simply teach history to spotty university students is beyond me. Necessary in Whitehall, perhaps, but not here.

    But I rather get the impression this sort of thing happens wherever you go. You could be a door-greeter at an Alabama Wal-Mart and you’d still have some rival working in the electronics department who loathes you because you said something ill-chosen about the Nintendo Wii.

    I presume people just do it out of boredom. Most of our lives are mundane enough. We work, we drink, we eat, and we go to bed so we can get up and work again. Perhaps it is nice to add a bit of drama to it, in the same way we flip on a soap opera.

    Think of the wars that were fought between dynasties and nations throughout history just because kings and queens were bored with the comforts of court life and started feeling over-sensitive and bitchy!

    As for myself, I have long since retreated from all of this. I used to be a friendly, open, well-meaning person. But I wound up appearing more like a blathering ass when I tried to befriend petty people, even though I knew I wasn’t. Now I avoid the politics completely. I get on with my work. A certain reserve is the order of the day. I recognise that being everyone’s friend is not possible, nor is it the best way to get ahead in one’s career. In fact, maintaining a professional reserve works well. Small talk endears no one. Some of the best professionals any business are usually those who talk least, bluster least, and get on and do the task at hand. Avoid the small talk, avoid the gaffs. I go in. I do my job. Keep to myself. Then go home, see my friends, and unwind. I keep work and social life assiduously separate. When at work, I focus my thoughts solely on the task at hand, not all the nonsense. I distinguish myself by my professionalism, not by the quality of my friendly manners. Socialites are a dime a dozen. Many people believe this is the key to success. But that is not the way to get ahead. Precision and reserve, are the two watchwords. Precision and reserve are the orders of the day!

    Interestingly enough, a bit of professional reserve can be good for your career. People who are not distracted by your social skills are better able to appreciate the skills of your craft. You cease to appear the blathering ass. People presume still waters run deep, and let us face it, any depth in you is more visible if you aren’t paving it over with small talk. And petty people who would spurn and condemn you for a slip of the tongue, cannot do so. You give them no ammunition. You may not endear the petty people with your reserve, but nor will you alienate them while trying to be friendly. That doesn’t mean you can’t be civil. Be polite. But simply by playing hard to get a surprising amount of people start to notice and admire you, who wouldn’t if you had played the social butterfly.

    I also find I have a lot more time to think about the execution of my craft, which in turn redoubles the strength of my professional life.

    I mention all this because perhaps it might be of use to you in some situations. It has helped me out and made me a lot more successful in my field than I otherwise might have been.

    That being said, some people are perfectly happy to risk a gaff or two simply to live openly and warm-heartedly without the chill of reserve. If I didn’t have so much ambition for myself in my career, I would be perfectly content to have a few more friends and advance less. But you mention ambition in your blog. I don’t think you’d be content with this condition either.

    But with ambition satisfied, I am perfectly happy keeping work separate, keeping only a small exclusive circle of intimates, and meanwhile studiously and quietly working away while avoiding the stress of ‘small talk’. It is a quiet and blissful life.

    Naturally this reserve has had the side-effect of my spending excessive amounts of time online talking to people I do not know in the slightest (such as you) to ventilate the words I dare not risk on the job. As such I ask for your forgiveness…

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