Here’s another article from Gio Orellana of Giordany.com. He’s a filmmaker based in the United States who writes in-depth articles about his trials and tribulations in film production. This time around, Gio is here to discuss film interviews.
Here’s Gio with his tips on avoiding some of the mistakes he’s made at film interviews over the years.
We’ve all been nervous at interviews. Some of us choke, or forget our rehearsed lines, or we say something that we regret and can’t seem to get out of our minds.
Well, I’ve had my fare share of those moments, and I’m going to share them with you now. Hopefully you can learn a thing or two from my mistakes.
The F Word
I had the internship in the can. I was interviewing for an assistant position at a management company. All I had to do was not mess up the interview. I knew the guy who was running the company, I had worked with him a few times for seminars at USC. All I had to do was be nice and answer the questions.
The guy I knew had to run, so his partner had to interview me. He looked like maybe only a few years older than me. He started asking me questions and for some reason I felt really comfortable talking to him. He was not that much older than me, and I really wanted to connect, so I let my guard down.
That’s when it just left my mouth, I said the F word. Fuck.
However, it didn’t register in my mind that I had ruined this interview. I thought I was doing great. It just slipped and I played it cool, like we were equals or something.
Suddenly, his body language changed. He got up from behind the desk and moved closer to me.
In retrospect, he actually was moving to the door because in his mind this interview was over and he just had to kick me out.
However, he was so smooth that at the time I thought he was just getting close because he became more comfortable.
He was still polite and kept asking me questions. It wasn’t until later that I realized that he was mumbling and thinking of questions. He really wanted me to leave, but I was too dumb to realize it. I thought the interview was still doing well.
Then he started mentioning that he has a few other interviews, and that I’ll find out by next week if I got it or not. It was time to go. I shook his hand and left.
It wasn’t until I got to the car that I realized that I had screwed up the interview.
I never heard from them again.
The job was basically mine. As long as I didn’t fuck it up, it’d be mine.
It was an interview for a full time production assistant position. A few months earlier I had worked with this production company for about 12 days, so a lot of people knew me.
Even though I knew I had a good chance, I was still nervous. I was in the lobby and they called me in.
We went to a meeting room and I sat on one side while the three other producers sat on the other side facing me. It was go time.
They asked me basic questions, and asked me what I wanted to do, and why I wanted to join their company. I said I wanted to learn how to be a better producer, which was true.
There was a cynical producer there and he said “Why are we even interviewing him? Just hire him already!” We all laughed.
The interview was coming to a close, almost home. Then suddenly, the bald producer said, “Can you sing the ‘Call Me Maybe’ song for us?” In my mind, I was like, “What the fuck? Why? What for? Is this a joke?”
I’m sure he was just kidding around, but it was such a weird request, and it was three dudes interviewing me, so I just went with the first friendly dude answer that popped into my mind: “Sure, I can sing it, but I’ll have to squeeze my balls to reach the high notes.”
Everyone laughed. I thought, “I got this!”
They said, “We’ll let you know in about two weeks.” I said thanks, shook their hands and left. They didn’t contact me until almost a month later, but it wasn’t for the position, it was just to help out for a day or two on a spec project.
However, that fell through and they never contacted me again.
In retrospect, I don’t know and I still don’t know if it was my stupid comment that ruined me. It was only until later that I thought of the perfect response: “Well, I could sing it for you, but I don’t want to make your ears bleed.” It was short, sweet, and unoffending. If only my brain had thought of it first.
After the Jingle Balls incident, I didn’t need to work since I had saved enough money. However, after I shot my first feature film The Grotto, I was out of work for a few months and I had to get back into making money.
I had worked for this other production company shooting behind the scenes footage for a new movie coming out. I shot the interviews with the director and he was a really cool British guy.
After the third day of shooting with him, I asked him if he knew of any positions opening at the production company he worked for, which was a big commercial production studio.
He said “Well, let’s set up a date and we’ll grab some coffee to talk about it.”
I was ecstatic. I didn’t think he would offer such a thing — I just thought he would recommend me to to someone else so he could get rid of me.
We finally locked down a date for a Monday, which was a week from when we set it up. However, the Thursday before, the secretary emailed me and said, “Are you available today at 2pm?” I hadn’t rehearsed or prepared mentally. It was Thursday at 11am — I had only 3 hours .
I said, “Yes!”
I arrived at 2pm exactly, and entered the Commercial Studio air hangar building. It was their third one, they were expanding rapidly. It was a beautiful set up with minimalist design everywhere.
I waited patiently for the British director to arrive. He came out in a rush, “Sorry mate, I don’t have much time. You want some tea?”
I wasn’t expecting that comment. He doesn’t have much time? Well, what was I thinking? That he’d give me an hour for free? I probably had 20 minutes of his time, tops. I was totally not prepared.
He made some quick tea for me, and we stepped into his office. It was sparse, just a desk, a couch, and a coffee table.
I sat at the edge of the couch. He slid out his chair and crossed his legs. He looked at me and said, “Okay, for the sake of time, tell me what you’re looking for. Let me know what you’re thinking.”
Straight and to the point. This was the complete opposite of when I was shooting his interviews. He was laid back and relaxed, the epitome of chill. Work must have transformed him daily with stress and anxiety.
I asked him if there were any assistant editing or production assistant positions available. “Mmm, no, sorry mate, I don’t do that kind of hiring. But listen, I want to help you, I really do! Maybe if you tell me more about yourself, I can do my best to help you.”
I went into my rehearsed diatribe of how I went to USC and created my own production company. I told him how we had shot a few films, and we recently did some shooting for ABC Television’s HR department.
He was surprised and confused, and asked me why I was looking for a job. I said I needed something more consistent. He said, “It never is, you always gotta hustle. It’s a constant hustle.”
I then went into how I was becoming more of a writer and how I wanted to be a screenwriter. That’s what confused him even more.
He said, “I don’t understand, are you looking for a job, or do you want to be a writer? If you want to write, go write! And listen, I like you, I really do, but how you came in? It’s not good, you have to be more prepared. So what do you want?”
I said point blank I was looking for a job.
“A job? Okay, I’ll see what I can do about that.”
He quickly rolled his chair over to his laptop and started typing. “What’s your website?” he asked. I gave it to him. He started watching our reel, but impatiently skipped through most of it. “Good stuff, not bad.”
He then started watching really old shit that I didn’t want him to see. He kept skipping through it and commenting. “Hmm, some music would have done it some good.”
He kept going through our old stuff in our Vimeo account and it was getting me angry, not at him, but at how disorganized our company Vimeo account was. I decided to revamp the company website so it wouldn’t happen again.
I really wanted to show him my favorite commercial, Dibs, but the Vimeo search is horrendous. I couldn’t find it. He kept selecting crappy old videos.
I had to show him my best video.
The director suggested he go get his friend because he was a screenwriter. He left the office to go get him. I was determined to show it to him.
I went on my laptop but I couldn’t connect to the internet. So I did the dumbest thing I could do that moment: I went over to the director’s laptop while he wasn’t there.
I searched and still couldn’t find it. I turned around and he saw me on his laptop. “HEY! What are you doing!? Jesus, you’re definitely earning points today.”
I instantly regretted my decision and felt ashamed. My ears turned hot red from embarrassment, but I now had to talk to his screenwriting friend.
At that point, the director clocked out of the conversation and focused on writing work emails and messaging through iChat.
Talking to the screenwriting friend was a lot easier. He was definitely cool to talk to, bringing up similar movies that we both liked. I told him that I’ve written 3 feature films, and he said I should send them to him, and that he would respond in about a week.
I was once again hopeful. No one had ever asked to read one of my scripts, maybe something good will come out of this!
The conversation turned to my age, and I said I was 26. The screenwriter turned to the director and said, “Hey, what were you doing when you were 26?”
The director responded by saying, “Uh, let’s see, I was earning $300,000 a year, working as an assistant director to [insert famous British director].” My balls shrank. “So, you gotta get to it!”
The screenwriter left after giving me his email. The director then got on a phone. I still wasn’t done with my tea. The director looked at me and said “Okay, goodbye!”
He was kicking me out. I hated myself. I said, “I’m really sorry about the laptop.” He said, “Don’t worry about it, talk to you later.”
I never heard from either him or his screenwriting friend.
In retrospect, it’s always when I do something spontaneous that shit goes awry. My emotions overtake me and I lose control. I tried really hard to make the interview with the British director work, but I just had to go ahead and do that stupid move of looking at this laptop without his permission. Had I only thought about my next move a little bit more, I would have prevented that disaster.
TL;DR: Messed up three interviews by saying/doing stupid shit. Learn from my mistakes.
This article was written by Giordano Orellana of Giordany.com.
He’s a USC school of cinematic arts alum from 2009. He started his own production company called Anchorbolt Studios and directed his first feature this year. From Gio: “I want to share as much wisdom as I can so you don’t make the same dumb ass mistakes I made.”