Monday, November 30, 2009

California Dreamin' Part 1

The trip to, in and from California left me with a vast amount of memories which would be entirely overwhelming if I wrote it all at once. So, I’m going to write it in 5 pieces, reflecting back on each day I spent in Cali. Here it goes...

Wednesday (11/4)

640am and dragging our carry-ons onto a plane. Virgin America. Purple lights and pop music greet us. Black “leather” seats. Comedic flight attendants. Order snacks from my TV screen. Watch the Disney Channel (not afraid to admit that.) Turn on some Wifi. Rockstar. I try to sleep. Can’t. Get to writing, Jaime snores. Look out the window. Highways then greenery, then crops in Ikea rug patterns, then blue mountains with cotton colored caps, then terracotta canyons and then…Jaime snores. We begin landing.

Oh car rental, car rental where are you? Ah, it’s off-site. Well then! Small talk and smiles gets me a free upgrade. A red Chevy Impala. Gangster. Side view mirror is smashed. Darn. Exchange. Now the car is “mocha.” About to get in and drive off, killer bee on the dashboard. Yikes! Rental attendant performs a murderous rampage. Attendant= 1, Bee=0.

Shades on. Driving through the wide-lane streets and one story buildings. This reminds me of Orlando. Pull into In-N-Out Burger. Oh wait, no it doesn’t.

Park @ hotel in Marina Del Rey, walk to Venice beach. Weather is lukewarm, sky is the kind of blue you want to wrap yourself in like a warm blanket, waves are gnarly (did I say that right?) Walk the Venice “canal.” Looking into people’s homes feels weird but they are beautiful. They are meant to be observed.

Clock says it’s only 4pm but I’ve already been up for more than 12 hours. Naps are amazing.

Get ready to meet my friend Steve R at the Red Lion Tavern on Glendale Avenue. On the phone with my bestie from westie, Couper, who warns me not to stray too far from the freeway, there are some “interesting neighborhoods” on the way there. Trooping across LA I only hope to not get a flat and end up in the middle of a gang war. Realize LAers are probably told the same thing about NY. Get to Red Lion in one piece. Beer garden with indoor/outdoor patio. Steve’s at a picnic table and our waitress is actually German. Beer name I can't pronounce. Yummy. Potato cakes and sausage. Double yummy. We talk life, love and beer. 9pm. I’m sleepy again. A huge bouncer takes our pic on the way out. Snap memory.

Hotel. Bed. Snooze.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My 15 Minutes (Part 2 of 3)

There's something amazing in having a vision and being able to realize it for someone else. What's more amazing? Sitting alongside the person(s) who are going to listen to your story and find a way to tell it for you.

Towards the end of the winners announcement, I was approached by two of the producers I'd be working with on creating my videography. What surprised me was not only how down to earth they were but how genuinely excited they appeared to be about the project. Besides the obvious reasons I should feel lucky, I was further enamored with the project after meeting them.

My first official sit-down with the producers came the very next day. We discussed my background and the project in general. We spoke of the other jobs they've worked on and I tried my hardest to keep my excitement just below the surface. A mini-movie about me. Surreal. (I’m going to use that word a lot, please forgive me now.) I’d love to give the pinpointed details about our conversation, but I’m not at liberty to say. Just know that the final videos will be online at some point for all to see.

When I returned to my office I was still wearing the same smile I’d been wearing for the last day and a half. It was just hard to get rid of. After closing up, I headed home to pack. It just so happened that weeks before the contest even began, I had scheduled a trip to Los Angeles. What originally was intended to be a quick stop into the office turned into several meetings, a lunch and a dinner. My entire packing situation had to be re-evaluated. What does one wear when meeting the head of an TV & movie studio? And, just a few days later, riding a horse? Then of course there’s the multitude of situations that fall in between. Needless to say, I threw almost every sensible outfit I own into my suitcase. Set my alarm for 430am (who chooses a 7am flight to LA, really?) and hit the sack.

Half a dream later, I was up and, soon enough, in a car on my way to the airport and the interesting trip that lie ahead.

(Part 3- The California trip. Coming soon.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

My 15 Minutes (Part 1 of 3)

I'm not the kind of person that wins things. I’m the person that plays $50 on a lotto card and watches the person standing next to me who spent $1 win a million easy. That’s me. So winning the “make.believe” contest was a huge surprise. And since the majority of you don’t work with me, I figured it would be helpful to explain what exactly I was so excited about a couple of weeks ago.

Within the last month, the company I work for (Sony) opened up a contest to its US & Canada employees in support of its upcoming "make.believe" ad campaign. In an effort to showcase how Sony impacts various people in various ways, employees were asked to tell their "make.believe" stories in 150 words. After taking a few minutes to think of it, I came up with this:

Ever since I began writing short stories as a child, I had envisioned each plot, or each scene of dialogue as if it were taken from a film only I could see. For years I could not fathom the possibility of one day watching my stories, and later scripts, brought to life on film. Then, several months ago, I came across Sony’s Handycam HDR-FX1000 and was quickly aware that producing my films may not be as outrageously expensive as I had imagined. For a reasonable price and with exceptional quality, I was able to film my first web series, a sci-fi thriller titled Linked. After submitting the pilot episode to the NATPE NextTV competition, it was voted into the finalist round. I was both surprised and honored, but more so than anything, I was thankful for having been given the opportunity to show the world my vision.”

Very short version of a much longer story about how Linked was created and completed, but you get the gist. I submitted and continued with my workday. About a week later I received a call from two producers. They explained to me that my story was being considered and they wanted to hear more. Over a 15 minute conversation I explained more in depth the creation of Linked, my follow-up producer role with The Work Jerks, and how not only did purchasing the camera allow me much more creative freedom, but also opened creative doors for me within my position at Sony. They were interested. Very interested it seemed, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

The grand prize announcement was to happen on November 2nd, and on the preceding Friday I received another call. The producer told me I was in the running to win one of three grand prizes. The grand prize winners would have their story made into a video directed and produced by the same group handling the TV ad campaigns. They would also be flown to Vegas for the launch of the campaign at CES (that’s the huge annual electronics tradeshow) where the video would debut. AND they would receive an array of Sony products. Needless to say, I spent the weekend sleepless, contemplating whether or not I’d win.

That Monday I sat silently throughout the day. I had only mentioned the possibility of my win to a couple of friends. I was too afraid I’d lose. Later that afternoon, the entire building gathered into our atrium for the announcement. I stood within a small group of friends that were aware that I was a finalist but I told them to play it cool if my name wasn’t called. Sir Howard Stinger, Chairman, CEO & President of Sony Corp, walked onto the stage, introduced a great Playstation Home presentation and then announced that the event was being telecasted to Sony offices around the US and Canada. And so the pressure worsened. Until he said my name.

I was announced as the first of the three winners. I think the first thing I did was squeal, I can hardly remember. He asked me to raise my hand and as I did, watched 500+ people turn towards me. I smiled awkwardly and was relieved when the attention returned to him as he went on to read my story aloud. Completely surreal. Some of my coworkers found their way over to congratulate me. My boss, friends and boyfriend told me I never should have doubted myself. The minutes that followed were a complete blur. I could hardly text!

The other two winners were from our SCS and SCEA groups, I was the only one from SPE, which immediately led to a flurry of congratulatory emails from my colleagues all throughout NY and LA. I was so flattered and appreciative that I stayed at my desk past my usual exit time to answer each email. This was the beginning of something very special. And all I had to do…was not completely blow it.

(Part 2: I meet with the producers , Part 3: I visit LA – coming soon!)