Friday, March 25, 2011

Radical Beer: Part One

Days Remaining to Next Beer: 355

I moved to Vancouver to attend film school, and after film school I had no idea what to do with myself.

For one, my bank account had begun accumulating moths for interest. For another, I'd emerged from film school able to hear the countdown clock for the expiration of my school visa ticking loud as Lutherans. To stay I would need to find work that would sponsor a work visa to replace my student visa before it turned into a pumpkin.

I mean, I liked Vancouver then, yet I knew I needed to find a place to live out of the downtown core because the greenhouse effect ESL ghetto glass tower on the corner of Seymore and Pender had a rent like a waiting room in an American hospital and the spacious elbow room of an Olsen Twin's belly.

I considered using my newly garnered knowledge to go try to make a break into the LA film scene, then remembered The Player and frankly I find LA a circuit-board city too solder-laden for me to trust installing into the sweet cherry-wood cabinet of my life.

I could remain in Vancouver try to get a gig in film, however the BC government doesn't regard the 16 - 24 hour days as full time work and the almighty entertainment unions don't sponsor work visas for non-union nobodies like me unless they are related to Coppola or Sheen and I'm related to neither. I did recall hearing once that I'm distantly related to Jerry O'Connell, yet after seeing his special dramatic mono-log in Piranha 3D, well, he clearly came from the Greyhound side of the family, while I ride the short bus.

After a little quality time with Google I discovered the studio making the Simpsons games and a snowboarding game called Dark Summit about snowboarders versus an alien conspiracy sat at the edge of town on Terminal and Main, down by the train station where a bunch of my classmates and I had sneakily strode in during broad daylight and normal operating hours to scrutinize the plastic wrap and safety taped film set being built there for some rom-com, I think with Ice Cube in the cast.

Strangely I've seen two film sets for Ice Cube films. Long way from "Straight Outta Compton", even the Kid 606 version. The other time was a couple years later in the fall outside the Mill, a Hobbit house of a bar along the Coal Harbor shoreline. Same place Gabriel and I used to hold Draw Jams / Clubs back when we had the time, lead in our pencils, and vitamin B deficiency in our proverbial livers to coordinate those happenings. Now that Gabe and I are both Dads, the next draw club we host will probably be for teaching art to kids and involve a clown, preferably a sober one that doesn't make explicit balloon animal versions of STD viruses. The set had two beautiful Art Deco affected sculptures of ice blue polar bears that seemed far better craftsmanship and quality than any b-grade rom-com likely deserved, so imagine my glee when I saw one of those polar bears show up later as a regular feature of the Stanley Park holiday lights show. even Ice Cube would have to agree, that is pretty damn gangsta.

I applied to Radical Entertainment. Not that they had any openings posted, they didn't. And not that I thought I was all that, I didn't. Desperation sometimes breeds confidence where ego fears to tread. So confident in fact I misspelled the name of the company I'd applied to in the email to them. Why I thought there was a K in the name is anyone's bet, can't blame my education southern style, for while there is lots of Ks around, often in sets of three, I went to Catholic school, and that definitely started with a C. I stepped away from my computer to get a refreshing drink. OK, it was Canadian number 3, speaking of prime numbers, and slapped my forehead like I could've had a V8 as I reread the email I'd just sent in my head and as I have a photographic memory for about how many minutes? That's right, three. I spot the misspelling immediately and scrambled back to the computer as if I'd just hung up on my Mom to rapid fire a follow up email humbly admitting that I completely didn't mean to spell that wrong, tried to think of a viable excuse and said, simply, that my excitement about applying had rendered me an idiot.

The following business day, I believe it was a Monday, I received an email from the recruiter at Radical, a warm email that chuckled at my mistake, expressed appreciation for my swift and humble acknowledgment of my own all too human fallibility, and asked if I'd like to come in for an interview, see if there might be a spot for me on one of their teams. True, my resume had 5 years in the industry. I didn't call it "CV" yet, learned that term later on the job, oh the things school just can't teach you... So before you try to make fallible looking errors on your applications for employment to humanize yourself for prospective employers, remember there needs to be something more to back it up, enough that perhaps instead of appreciating your fallibility they're instead to overlook your outright absurdities.

During my interview I think my comment about a focus in Film School on Production Design for film lead to a misunderstanding that changed my career ever more. At Dynamix in Eugene, Oregon, I'd been a World Artist, or World Builder depending on your company. Seems as though hearing the word design lead to receiving a job offer as an Environments Designer, later trimmed to Level Designer. Best misunderstanding ever, as this career path has been a roller coaster ride I've seldom wanted to get off off, though I have accidentally or incidentally showered a few fellow passengers on occasion.

One interview and a signed job offer acceptance letter later, I had a gig and a fist full of work visa papers to take to the border. I learned that you really aren't supposed to park at the Canadian immigration visitor's lot at the border, wait for someone to walk out and slip in to join the queue, and then approach the front desk as though you actually left the country and are now trying to re-enter. Odds are they watched you the whole time on CCTV. Fortunately the guard was amicable and after I grovelled enough let the transgression slide with a warning. Did I mention how much I respect women in uniform?

Soon after I followed my pal Lee out of the greenhouse and into the thicks of the West End, into a bunker with a view, and embarked on what became an almost six year journey that saw Scarface: The World is Yours, Crash of the Titans, and Crash Mind Over Mutant ship.

 A journey that lead to meeting, dating, taking a break, resuming dating, moving in for a life of sin, marrying, and now casting a wink and a grin to my baby's Mama.

Radical treated me well, and in a lot of ways, though 6 years, our time together was far too short. After the Activision - Vivendi merger though the place changed, like a spouse might after a heart transplant from a serial killer. To Be Continued Tomorrow with Radical Beer: Part Deux

I know I often make lighthearted comments about my poor liver. Actual liver disease, particularly disease with nothing whatsoever to do with drinking, is absolutely no laughing matter, especially when it steals the life from someone you care about and respect. Today and tomorrow's posts are dedicated to all my friends and colleagues over the years at Radical, and in particular one Mr. Richard Mul. Sweetheart of a guy, and his family deserved him for many decades longer than they had him. His passion about tuning cars and making games was contagious, and he helped save the day on many occasions for the vehicles in Scarface. He also was way to nice about conceding countries in Nuclear Risk at Perado's place.

Miss you, Richard.

No comments:

Post a Comment