Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Trigger

Written in: Poblacion, Sta. Maria, Bulacan, PHILIPPINES
Composition: Impromptu intro, and then a reprint of something written long ago.

(See: Previous Post)

If it seems really shallow never to let go of your past from almost a decade ago, it's because it is.

I mean, I was 15 then; I should have moved on. And I did. I have. Long ago. I 'm just retelling the story now. However, ever since I started writing here, I made no pretensions that decade-old repressed feelings are the source of my motivations for travelling.

So, if they were repressed, then what was the trigger? Why did they come bursting forth just now to be the main driving force behind this trip?

This was what I wrote a year ago on another online blog of sorts.

I'm a Master Control Operator for a small TV station in a city much smaller than where I hail from. I'm the guy who puts in commercials and makes sure all programs live, tape or networked all go to air on time, and end on time.

I took this job Nov '05. I graduated school May '04

Last week, I sat down for a meeting with the boss for my 3 month probational review.

The review? Unsatisfactory performance, but with a second chance...

The probational period is extended for another month. Why? Because he first asked me how I was doing...

I didn't mince words and told him of all the things I thought gave me an added unfair hurdle. That I was hired during Christmastime and did not get time off for Christmas, New Years, etc...

That I had been living at home prior to this and, moreso than what I would admit to - it did affect me. My Grandfather died and I wasn't even there for his wake... my aunt from the Philippines visited and I wasn't even there for the stories o the motherland (I'm Filipino, kin is a big thing to me)

Also, I work with a 300lb dominating and imposing abrasive conservative old lady that can tear anyone's spirit to pieces. I handle difficult people well, but not this kind. I have never wanted to kill anyone more in my life and believe me, it's not just a "oh die already" wish.

I guess the sob story worked. An honest sob story it may have been - but it is a sob story nonetheless. My calculating sociopathic side was correct in concluding that such an honest accounting of the hurdles I faced - honesty presented for effect, would result in this second chance.

But then, the day after, I sat down with him again for my own decision.

I'm quitting.

...possibly pre-empting a potential termination. For the first time in my life I got a piss-poor review on something I did not want to fail. I mean, I've sabotaged a lot of relationships and tasks here and there as either an exit strategy or for spite. But never have I done so poorly on something I thought would be something I'd rock quite well.

I studied broadcasting, with hopes and dreams of becoming this kickass independent film/doc producer, but I'm finding out now that this ISN'T the route to do it...

A TV job isn't the way to glory. It could very well be a boring suck ass job that really sucks the life out of you. I feel like a fucking trained dog or monkey doing this job.

Watch it, wait for it, then press a button.
Watch. Wait. Press a button.

You do it wrong and the repercussions are bad. It has to be perfect, because it's on-air shit. You do it right and people don't even know some dude was behind that show. I thought it was all machines, they say.

There's no creativity, no problem solving, no flair, no style.

No satisfaction.

I have never worked a more dehumanizing, and spiritually alienating job.

Moving up to production seems to present slightly brighter prospects.

I might get to write something. I might get to tote a camera. I might get to do something more than push buttons.

But even then, it's not it's all cracked up to be. Shooting, Writing, Editing, and Directing are robotic jobs as well. Well, they CAN be.

The Camera guys that shoot news? They get to drive around the City shooting news that no one cares about. By-law meetings. Miniscule accidents. And a mish mash of small town retirement Canadiana that makes you question "what the fuck am I doing here?"

If on a daily basis I am to pump out shots out of a standardized shot list, then it too can get repetitive. Not to mention the fact that even though you just might get to shoot the most awesome event of all - an event where you treasured every frame and every bit that your lens captured - and it will all get compressed down to a minute and a half of airtime. Half of that being the talking head of the big egoed cocky anchor who over-modulates his voice.

The News Writers and Producers? Well, they're the ones that churn out the buck to buck thirty of news pieces.

But what kind of news?

News ripped from syndicated national sources? News that is so heavily edited top-down it reads like a cable wire? Pay attention to it: the same story, no matter who the source, is all told the SAME. The same catchphrases, cliches, and monotonous titles get repeated over and over. Doesn't matter which network, doesn't matter which anchor is delivering it... it's all the same shit.

At least (the propagandist news networks) have flair... though at the price of an overalll lack of truthfulness and partisan politics. (Damn republinazis) Anyway, multiply that a few times a day (cuz sometimes my shift takes me through 4 news shows) and you'll get sick of it quick. 

Maybe I could produce and write commercials and promos? Then again who the fuck pays attention to those anyway? I mean, there's probably about five main advertisers in this city, and you can only present them so much in a creative way.

It doesn't matter what your position and what you do... Everything in TV is standardized to fit a certain mold, fit a certain time slot, cater to certain sensibilities, and follow a certain guideline.

These are daily events that transpires around the world that YOU and I live in and here it is presented to you, assembly line style.

This, certainly isn't the direction I want to go in life. Three years ago I had aspirations of producing mind blowing documentaries, telling heart wrenching and life changing stories, and whatever the fuck else I believed the world should know. Being such a fan of PBS's Frontline and CBC's Rough Cuts, Passionate Eye, and The Fifth Estate... That was the shit I wanted to do, and I just feel that going through TV isn't the way to do it...

Some of my contemporaries certainly seem to have bypassed having been employed in such an environment and went on to produce their own docs, buy their own equipment and start doing business for themselves.

The dream isn't dead, but I'm staying away from TV operations and TV news and control rooms as far as I can.

So, after 4 months here, I'm coming back to Calgary, the city where I'm from, perhaps to a landscape job I had last year for the spring, and summer, and fall. Ironic that the labour jobs and menial customer service work I've done end up being more satisfying than this.
After that though, I don't know.

I don't know whether to go back to school...for what? I don't know myself anymore.

I have a vague plan, but that was a plan hatched in front of a keyboard, a computer monitor, and the program handbooks of various Technical Institutes and Colleges, and Universities.

Maybe I'll do some traveling. Maybe I'll get to find myself there...where? I don't know.

First in the order of business is the motherland, the Philippines. It's been nearly a decade since I was there last.

Maybe there's a story to be told there
The StrayDog
February 2006

Next Post: The First 14 Hours


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