By Jordan Hale
Hollywood is all about exclusivity. You haven’t even begun to make it in this town until you’re getting invites to private events and seeing movies that aren’t due to release for 6 months. Usually you haven’t really made it until you’re organizing these events yourself. And after all that, you’re not really “somebody” until these events are in your honor. Now, being a bottom-of-the-barrel intern, I practically lose my mind when I get an invite to a preview of a film we’ve been doing the music for called Horrible Bosses. Let me make a distinction: this is a preview, not a premiere. And apparently, there’s a big difference. I show up at the theater all dolled up, hoping to catch a glimpse of Charlie Day or Jason Sudekis (surely someone from this all-star cast would be there, right?! And then I’d meet them and we’d become best friends…but I digress). Yet I walk in to an almost empty tiny box of a room with a handful of people, most of whom I could tell by their conversations hadn’t seen any of this movie and knew almost nothing about it. Much to my dismay, not even the cute production assistant had showed up. Fail!
But as the movie started and the director stood up and said, “Hopefully, we’ll get some laughs!” I realized this was exactly the purpose of this little get-together. A preview is about having a smattering of industry people who aren’t incredibly familiar with the project simply watch the movie, and their reactions are all the filmmakers need in order to know what is working and what isn’t. Fortunately, the movie was hilarious. Lots of big laughs, and the music, if I do say so myself, was equally fun and mood-enhancing. Filmmakers will preview a movie several times before it’s released, and in many cases they’ll even have more than one different version of the same film up until the last minute. I’m learning what a true labor of love movies are, the process is so much longer than one would ever assume. We’ve been assigned to this film since I got here in October. And we’re post-production!
Now, on the other side of the coin, we have television. The women I intern with work on TV shows as well, which are so much more wham-bam/quick turnover than movies it’s ridiculous. My lovely ladies are doing a new show called Breaking In on Fox, and I was able to witness what was basically the TV version of a premiere the night the show aired immediately after American Idol. It was on the Sony lot, which was an experience in and of itself. I had never actually seen the inside of one of those massive soundstages before, where one can create basically any world you want if you have the right set designers. But the party wasn’t on the set, it was out back in the parking lot!
I walk outside with my boss and the first person I see, basking in the backlit glow of an In-N-Out burger catering truck (which is beautiful enough on it’s own!) was Christian Slater, chitchatting with some other cast members in his Breaking In baseball cap. I about died. I chowed down on a burger and some ice cream and schmoozed with the composer, trying to just pretend like I belonged there and knew what I was doing, all the while attempting not to look like I was staring at anyone (I was staring at everyone). But what really got to me about this little event was the atmosphere. Everyone was talking about how TV premieres are so nerve-wracking, because if you don’t get significant viewing numbers, your show’s going to get canned no matter how stellar it may be. A sobering thought.
To my pleasant surprise, everyone was so enthusiastic and optimistic even though they must have been extremely tired from shooting, and nervous about the outcome of the evening. It was so good to see how much camaraderie there was amongst the cast and crew. Once the show started everyone was cheering and laughing, and no one needed to see any numbers to tell it was definitely going to be a winning series. One of the cast members was even sneaking pictures of everyone’s faces during the show’s air. And yes, I met Christian. And yes, we made fun of American Idol.
I have to say though, the main thing I took away from these two events is how uncertain this business is. You can feel like you’re working on the best project ever only to have it bomb big time, or the opposite can happen and you can have a massive unexpected hit just as easily. I’ve never considered myself much of a gambler, but the risk-taking essence of entertainment is infectious, and I’m officially along for the ride.