Is LinkedIn rubbish on purpose?

LinkedIN job post screenshot. See caption for description.
A job that has nothing to do with my skills (nor previous jobs nor education), in an industry I’ve never worked in. This is typical of what is recommended to me. Notice how at the bottom it says, “you have 1 of the top skills among applicants, find the 9 missing skills.”  The free upgrade is a trial of course, and it requires a credit card.

Ever since LI acquired Lynda.com, I’ve noticed that the job recommendations have gotten even worse. I’m told I have only one of the ten top skills for a job, or often none of the top skills, yet it is recommended to me anyway.  And no, these jobs do not match my previous job titles, and generally aren’t even in my industry. Continue reading Is LinkedIn rubbish on purpose?

Why I connect to shady characters

Some of you are great. If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of my best connections, one of the real people I trust. Or, you’re connected to them, trusted by them, and a great person.

However, there are other people who invite me just to expand their own network, or to try and con me out of money. You’d think I would avoid these people. But, hey, I’m a screenwriter. Or I used to be, before rebranding myself as a “Project Manager.” I love stories, and comedy.

The recent addition to my list is a so-called hedge fund manager. Here’s an excerpt from his profile: Continue reading Why I connect to shady characters

Name calling can lead to success in business

Scientists in Nevada have proven that insulting people actually makes them want to do business with you.

If you accuse conservatives of being racist, or liberals of being traitors, they start to like you, says Dr. Maidup of Jusjoshing University in Southern Nemoland County.   Generalizing about people who disagree with you, or labelling people who you disagree with as “bad people”, actually wins business.

Dr Maidup came to this conclusion by observing behaviour on LinkedIn.  He observed many people who claim to be successful, and discovered that spend all day calling each other names and posting insulting political memes.

These people are so successful, that most of them don’t appear to have to work for a living.  Rather than having jobs, they are consultants, bloggers, or have other professions that free them from doing any activity that may actually earn an income.  They may complain about not having clients, but really, they don’t need any.

“Being a total jerk to everyone you meet is a good way to be successful,” Dr Maidup said, “Hey, it seems to work for politicians and talk show hosts.”

Other success secrets of Dr Maidup include proving that you’re a genius by solving simple maths problems, taking online personality tests, and sharing your email with data-miners who claim that it will get you a job.

One way to test if you are successful is to put your hand in front of your face, to see which is bigger.  This works best if someone else is in the room, and able to slap said hand to said face.

The difference between Development and Pre-Production

(image temporarily offline)
“Three Seeds” Image derived from 19th century Japanese prints.

Acquiring the seed and a spot to plant it in, that is development.  Planting the seed, that is pre-production.  When it finally bears fruit, then you have a film. – Ptara

Once again, techies have been spreading misinformation on how a film is made. Just because you helped design a cool piece of software doesn’t mean you know everything, and one thing they especially seem to get wrong is the difference between development and pre-production.

The main problem is that most of them don’t seem to think that there is a difference, or they think that development is part of pre-production.  (Hint: I highly recommend Micheal Wohl\’s course on how to use Final Cut Pro X, although I take issue with some of his workflow advice, and also recommend his course on Apple Motion.  However, steer clear of his course on Production, it\’s very badly researched and poorly prepared.) Continue reading The difference between Development and Pre-Production

Above the line or below the line

Above the Line: In a film budget, departments whose key members are traditionally recruited before the film’s financing is in place and before the budget is written.  These include development (costs and investment recoupment), story and screenplay, direction, production, cast, and any associated fringes. – Ptara’s guidebook.

Michael Wohl may the the world’s foremost expert on Final Cut Pro, but when it comes to film accounting, the guy gives out false information.

As you can guess, I’m a fan of Wohl’s, but I’m disappointed in what he said is the difference between “above the line” and “below the line.”  His blunder prompted me to write this, because if someone of Wohl’s calibre can get it wrong, so can thousands of others.

Michael Wohl, in his film on film production, defined above the line as “craftspersons essential for making a movie.”  He included in this editors, composers, cinematographers, and production designers.  While I concur that these craftspeople are essential for most films, as essential as any above the line talent, I have no idea where he got the idea that they are above the line.  Most of the “craftspersons essential for making a movie” are in fact BELOW the line.

Below the line does not mean beneath the line.  The line does not differential people by creativity, pay scale, importance, level of talent, or break people into any other kind of value judgement.  Above the line is basically a section of a spreadsheet, nothing more.

Yes, the imaginary line existed in the days of accounting books before spreadsheets, but the difference was just as arbitrary.  The line exists not for moviegoers or moviemakers, it is there simply for accountants and others who deal in film budgets and film finance.

So, why are most craftspeople below this line?  Is it because accountants only like actors, directors, producers and writers?  No, it’s simply because it’s simpler to write a budget if you break it down into pieces.

If you watch the credits to a feature film, you can see hundreds of names of people.  While on Dara Says we only tended to have five people on set most days (and two or three on some days), on most feature films or even music videos you’d be hard pressed to see a set with fewer than twenty people on it.

When the principal photography is complete, a lot of other people are involved.  Michael Bay has five editing assistants in his editing room, and they hold video conferences with another team at ILM who do the CGI, and then there is a huge team who deal with the music.

Then there’s all the equipment, from computers and software to cameras and lenses to batteries and storage devices to real and virtual instruments, headphones and microphones and recording boxes, not even mentioning all the costumes and makeup and props.  Most of these devices and materials don\’t even show up in the credits.  But, all of it costs money, and all costs need to be accounted for.

It’s easier to deal with massive amounts of information if you can summarise it.  So, accountants will separate the information into departments.  These departments are broken down so that there are fewer than 50 numbers to deal with on a top sheet, this way the budget can be easily presented to people who are not accountants.

In the script department, you’ll have the screenwriter’s pay for the screenplay, but you’ll also have any costs involved in copying and distributing the screenplay.  (This may include print-outs, photocopies, and even a runner who goes between the screenwriter and the director.)  If the screenwriter has a typist, that will be here too.

In the editing department, the editor may have an assistant, a runner, and some money put aside for editing equipment and a room to work in.

The camera department will include not only the people who handle the camera (and the cinematographer and/or director of photography), but also the equipment including cameras, lenses, and perhaps storage drives.

Now, even with all the small numbers being compiled into these departments, the budget is simplified further still into sections.  (There are also sections within departments, but there’s a lot involved in writing a budget.)  Some departments are called “post production” because their jobs can’t really start until the first scene has been shot.  An editor could start editing stock-footage before the first day of principal photography, and will usually start work before photography is completed, but will tend to start work at least a day later than a cinematographer.

A cinematographer can start testing out cameras and locations before a line of dialogue is written, but normally won’t start work until the screenplay is done.

If you’re seeing a trend emerge, you might be on to it.  Look at a film budget, and you’ll see it generally broken down into when people become involved in a project.

Above the line talent are those who tend to be involved from start to finish.  The actor or director may be called upon to give interviews on talk shows to promote a film, and that’s likely to be part of their contract.  The writer might write what they say in those interviews.  The producer will be there from start to finish, buying the rights to the story and finally making sure the finished film gets sold on cable TV five years later.

Below the line tends to be separated into three main sections, those involved mainly in principal photography, and those involved primarily in post production, as well as a third section which involves expenses that are indirectly involved but still essential (like insurance and legal fees).

Above the line tend to be involved before the money is in place, and stay involved after the money is all gone.  Their personal lives are more likely to be in the tabloids, and they’ll be able to sell a film even if they don’t have talent (in the case especially of models or sports stars turned stars.)

Foreign markets might buy the rights to a film that hasn’t even been made yet because there are name brands in the above the line talent.  They may also avoid the film because there are scandals involving those people.  Therefore, you might say that above the line tend to be more famous, but not all are (some of my favourite writers are people who no one has heard of.)

Tax credit awarding governments and academics sometimes determine the nationality of a film based upon its above-the-line talent.  If the crew and editors of a film are all Eastern European, but the cast, director, writer and producer are British, it may count as a British film.  Anyone who was actually involved in film production might find this silly, but that’s just how the money people (and some academics and critics) see things.

These differences are more important to the money people than those making the film.  I think it’s essential to have the best below-the-line people you can get, and I sometimes don’t like the term below-the-line because of the connotations it sends out.

Above the line is before the deal.  Before the studio gives the green light to a project, they want a great leads, a great director, a good screenplay in place, and it will all be packaged by a producer.  This is your before-the-deal team, some of whom may be retained with deposits like options or pay-or-play deals.  And, while below the line talent may occasionally be involved, it’s usually the above the line team that brings in the money.

It’s important to note that the entire department of an “above the line” role will occur above the line in a budget.  So, the producer’s and director’s assistants, though they might not become involved in a production until the heads of other departments have already begun work, will still be “above the line.”  The line exists for simplicity sake.

So, it all has to do with money, not importance, talent, skill, or anything else.  The terms above-the-line and below-the-line existed before the film business, and both have different meanings in other industries.  However, if you look at the meanings in business and advertising, their film meanings might start making more sense.  Above the line in marketing is the big-media advertisements, and marketing below the line is the grunt-work like the door-to-door sales reps.

Dom Joao VI, The damned Prince, King of Contraditions

(This is Gargamelo’s first post with Ptara.)

 

Pop art portrait of Dom Joao VI of PortugalApril 1812, Rio de Janeiro, King’s Palace. 

The Regent and his two sons – meeting with their state secretary and top ministers – have just received the news that Napoleon’s troops have definitely been expelled from Portugal.  That means that there is no longer a valid reason for the court to remain in Brazil.

However, except for the Regents wife, Queen Carlota Joaquina, the royals are in no hurry to return.  Continue reading Dom Joao VI, The damned Prince, King of Contraditions

What started the war of 1812? Canadian and American viewpoints

A sailor being kidnapped by a press gangToday Ptara is joined by two world class historians who give their take on what started the war of 1812.

They examine the speeches of the British Parliament and the US House of Representatives. From Jefferson’s purchase of Louisiana, up to the repeal of the Orders of Council, the US and Britain had shaky relations. Continue reading What started the war of 1812? Canadian and American viewpoints

What is the secret of success?

painting of Admiral Nelson contemplating what to do next.
Lord Nelson in the cabin of the Victory, by Charles Lucy

Eisenhower once said that if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. Yet, biographers of Napoleon seem to quote Cromwell in saying that those men who go farthest, don’t have a plan.

There are so many other secrets put forward. But one seems consistent. Continue reading What is the secret of success?

When was history?

Delegates in a convention hold up signs for Oklahoma, Mississippi and West Virginia.  Black and white photo
Republican convention, 1952. Fifty year rule: 2002.   Sixty year rule: 2012

 

39-year-old History teacher Josh Hoeska had a great idea.  His sixteen-year-old students were to hold a tournament to find out who was the greatest examples of courage in American “history.”  The two finalists involved events that happened in 2001 and 2005.

In other words, their “history” was the Presidency of George Bush Jr.  Most people over thirty might think that these kids were learning current events, and not history.

Besides making you feel old, there might be other objections to using events so recent.  Continue reading When was history?

Two hundred years and 127,000 American Missionaries later

February 19th, 1812, a man named Adoniram Judson sailed from Salem harbor in Massachusetts to India, and eventually to Burma.  This trip was once called “the most important event of the nineteenth century.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if you never heard of Ann and Adoniram Judson.   I hadn’t either, until I looked at old lists of significant dates and events. Continue reading Two hundred years and 127,000 American Missionaries later