The Work Stress Thing

It’s been awhile since I last wrote a blog post. That’s because my work has completely engulfed me. It’s insane. I’m actually thinking of quitting. Before there’s any thoughts that I might be a weak ass pussy, read on.

I’ve done NDP 2013 last year, one of the biggest stage production in Singapore every year, and I held a key position as well. We blew past our initial budget by a wide, wide, WIDE margin, had casting issues, stage issues, weather issues, and for me, a special suicidal depression issue. Basically, anything and everything that could go wrong, went wrong. And we managed to put on one hell of a show. Internally, amongst the old schoolers backstage, it was considered the best they’ve every worked on. 

So it surprises me how burnt out I am at the new job. We’re shooting a 13 episodes television series, and I came in practically at the end of the preparation period. We’re starting shoot next week. There’s next to no planning done before I came in, and the assistant producer just quit from the stress as well. From what I know, for the production firm I’m working for, this is their first television series. 

We have a total of 22 positions to fill. One week before shooting starts, 5 of them are empty. 2 of them are key positions. One of those 2 is the one that just quit. We have 3 interns, with only two with experience in prep, myself included. One of the assistant director is doing the job of the producer, and the other does not have enough funds to properly scout for locations.

I’ll be honest, the production manager (producer) is a pain. I got stuck as an intern for the art department, and she thinks everything can be done simply by going to some local mall to pick up some props. There seems to be this idea in her head that being production manager means being cheap, so we have to find stuff for her at low price, which is really maddening. Thank god the art director is insane and can put up a good argument with her. But she controls the money, which makes it hard to work for everyone. Because we all need a budget to even begin with our work. This makes her thrifty nature a hell to take.

And whenever she walks into the officer, and the casting list gets changed around because she deemed some of the actors too expensive, which is the reason why the assistant producer quit. Everything’s for the cheap. We have no driver, so I’m out looking for props on foot. I followed some leads on the rarer ones last week that turned up empty. Returning back to the office with nothing – as common when doing art – and get tagged as haven’t been working, despite being out running around town like a headless horse chasing a carrot by smell for hours on end. I don’t get reimbursed on my transportations, and I eat cheap. Yet I’ll still be in the red by the end of the month with my crap pay heavy foot traffic. 

Now my art director, he’s a nice enough guy. He helps me out here and there, and he’s genuinely trying to teach me his trade, which I appreciates. But hells, he talks more in one day than the entire CSI series combined. It’s insanely stressful for a quiet loving introvert like myself. Just yesterday, I met him at 10:30 in the morning, and he did not draw breath till we parted at 21:00 at night. I’m not even joking or overstating. He literally kept talking for 10 and a half hours. And he’s disorganized as hell. Well, he’s organized for himself, but people outside looking in, or people like myself working with him has no idea what the fuck he’s doing half the time. After one and a half weeks, I still don’t!

He’s not computer illiterate, but he doesn’t like to use emails, and wants desperately for me to use technology within his wants. Like using Adobe Photoshop to make a simple list? That’s an insane amount of effort for something OpenOffice can churn out in 10 minutes! And using Photoshop to do a box design that takes half the time in InDesign? I want to punch him sometimes. He claims to be effective, but he does things so fast and without stop, he often misses the easier road. And when I tell him about the easier methods, he’d cite my experience in comparison to his. Only when I force my way into doing it the faster way, would he stop talking, but never admitting his mistakes. Nice guy. Super maddening to work with.

A part of me knew, the working conditions in Singapore, like Hong Kong, is not exactly great. We work the longest hours amongst developed countries and have a low amount of annual leave. So I shouldn’t be surprised that the ever tight world of film production would have even less time. I guess I just did not expect this level of it. It’s like NDP all over again. But even for NDP, I had the time to write my stories, which says a lot about the work experience I’m having right now. And I get free meals back then. Oh, I’ve been forced to put my stories on a biweekly schedule now too. Haven’t had the time to update the blog about that.

I’m seriously thinking about quitting. Not immediately though. The art director says our job will get easier comes mid production, which would be a month from now. I just hope I can hang on until then. This next week will be the deciding factor in whether or not I will continue to work on the production, depending on the work load for the shoots. I’m really not looking forward to going back to that office. 


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