Film and TV industry is hiring in the Washington, DC area

February 7, 2009

(Disclosure:  I’m a member of Women in Film and Videowifv1WIFV is a chapter of Women in Film & Television International (WIFTI), a network of nearly 40 chapters around the world.  Our members are new to the industry and media moguls.  Men are eligible for membership.)

While Hollywood and New York lead the way in production of narrative features, our nation’s capitol is also the capital of production in the US for non-fiction media.  Two upcoming events can help you break into the Washington, DC film and TV scene:

On February 9,  get your resume reviewed by leading industry experts at the  WIFV resume swap

Then on March 7,  take your new and improved resume to the WIFV Media  Job Fair.  More details are forthcoming. In the meantime, you can register and do some homework on the exhibiting companies. cancel means cancel

February 5, 2009

During this economic recession companies are trying very hard to hold on to customers.  I get that.  But when I make up my mind that I no longer wish to purchase a company’s service, and state it very clearly, the company gets zero points from me for repeatedly trying to talk me to into continue paying for something I’ve already stated I no longer want.

I’ve used the free version of eFax for a number of years.  It was great for receiving faxes via e-mail. About a year ago, I upgraded to efax plus, which, for a fee, allowed me to not only receive faxes but also send faxes from my 39398-en-web-logocomputer without a fax machine.  Turns out the number of sent faxes a month wasn’t worth the $16.95 a month, and since I, like almost everyone else, am looking for ways to cut costs, I decided to revert my account back to the free receive-only eFax.  Turns out, that can’t be done.  So, I decided to close my account.  Turns out, that can’t be done without stepping up to the line of rudeness.  To wit, my chat with an eFax customer service rep on-line (apparently the only way to cancel one’s eFax account is via chat):

{Shane P.} Hello, Jane. Welcome to j2 Global online support. I am Shane, your online Live Support Representative. How may I assist you today?

{Jane} HI

{Jane} A year ago I upgraded my efax account from free to “plus”. Now I can no longer afford to pay for the “plus”. So I’d like to revert back to free efax.

{Jane} Can you help me do that?

{Shane P.} Unfortunately our network architecture does not allow an eFax Plus number to be converted to Free. When you contact us to request a downgrade, your Plus number will be cancelled and you may sign up for a new eFax Free account after the closure of your paid number.

{Jane} OK, But can I keep the same efax number?

{Shane P.} Jane, I am sorry but that not possible.

{Jane} OK. Well, I’d like to cancel my efax plus number and close my account, please.

{Shane P.} I am sorry to hear that you wish to cancel. Could you please provide me with your Fax number and PIN for verification?

{Jane} fax number is <snipped>. PIN is <snipped>.

{Shane P.} Please give me a moment while I go through your account

{Shane P.} Thank you for waiting. I have just located and verified your account.

{Shane P} Jane, I understand that currently you do not need the service. In the current situation, we will waive off the monthly fee for two months. This way you will be able to keep your account, which will enable you to send and receive faxes. During this period, you will not be charged any monthly fee. Usage charges are applicable for sending faxes if any. We are suggesting this so that you can give it a second thought, as you will not be paying $16.95 for the next 2 billing cycles.

{Shane P} Your eFax account will be credited with $33.90 so that you may utilize our services without being billed our monthly fee for the next two billing cycles.

{ Shane P} As you will not be charged the monthly fee for the next two months, you could keep the account till then. If you still feel that you do not have any use for our services by the end of the two months credit period, please feel free to contact us anytime. Will it be fine with you?

{Jane} I would like to cancel my efax plus number and close my account now. Please.

{Shane P.} I completely understand your wish to discontinue, since you have paid for the current month, you can retain this number at least till the end of two months credit offer as you will not be charged any monthly fee for the two months.

{Shane P.} As a good will gesture, we will offer you an additional gift balance of $10 along with the monthly credit, which will enable to send up to 100 additional fax pages free of cost (per page per minute within US & Canada).

{Shane P.} At the end of the 2 months credit period, you can get back to us immediately without any further obligation to stay back. We are available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Please feel free to contact us at any time. We will immediately process your request.

{Jane} I respectfully demand that you cancel my efax number and close my account right this moment.

{Shane P.} All right, I understand and respect your decision for cancelation. I will immediately cancel your account with us.

{Shane P.} Is there anything else that I can assist you with at this time?

{Jane} Thank you. what confirmation will I receive that my account has been canceled?

{Shane P.} An e-mail confirming that your account has been canceled will be sent to your registered e-mail address shortly after this chat session ends.

{Jane} Ok, thank you. I’ll be saving this chat for my records, as well.

If eFax was serious about making “a goodwill gesture”, they’d modify their network architecture to allow customers to revert their accounts from plus to free.  At least I’ve already received the e-mail confirming my account is cancelled.

Volunteering at the Lincoln Memorial Inaugural Opening Ceremony

January 24, 2009

Now that I’m thawed out and fully recovered from the excitement of last weekend,  I can share my first-person account of being a part of the historic inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.

At volunteer training, held in the Washington, DC convention center, I and about 6,000 other volunteers learned about our general duties and responsibilities, then went into break-out sessions to learn more detailed information about our inaugural-volunteervarious roles.  I was assigned to work the media work tent at the Inaugural Opening Ceremony on Sunday, January 18 at the Lincoln Memorial.

Bright and early on Saturday morning, January 17, the volunteers working in the press area reported to the site to meet the Opening Ceremony staffers and team captains for a run-through.  

On Sunday morning, we met even earlier to go through the press area security check-point and begin our appointed task of staffing the media work tent for the duration of the Opening Ceremony and concert.   The tent was heated (hallelujah!) and equipped with hardline internet access, electricity and phone lines for members of the press to file their stories, charge their camera batteries, etc.  Refreshments were available, and when word spread that the tent was heated and stocked with food and hot coffee, the tent became quite a popular place for  the journalists and camera crews to stop by and warm up.

Due to the number of volunteers working at the Opening Ceremony, we were lucky enough to see parts of the Opening Ceremony in one-hour shifts.  I watched the first half of the ceremony from a very plum spot, close to the bandstand, thanks to the generosity of a very kind HBO rep.  I loved watching the performances and speakers, but the most thrilling moment was looking behind me and seeing the throng of people that stretched all the way back to the Washington Memorial!

Volunteering for the Opening Ceremony was a fantastic experience.  It was rewarding to be with friendly, dedicated, bright people, all of us working as a team, doing our part to represent our new President in one of the most historic inaugurations in our country’s history.

The Inauguration – my first-person account

January 11, 2009

Volunteering on the Obama-Biden campaign was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. 

inaugural_flag_logo_button When the Presidential Inauguration Committee asked for volunteers to help out with the inauguration, I jumped at the chance and applied right away.  I’m happy to report I was accepted!

This afternoon, I head downtown to attend mandatory volunteer training and receive my assignment.  Who knows where I’ll be assigned — working at the parade, or the National Day of Service, or the kids’ concert, or if I’m very very lucky, one of the official balls. Or I could be in a back-office working uber-behind the scenes.  It doesn’t really matter because I’m excited about helping in an historical moment for our country and for the world.

If it’s allowed, I’ll try to live-twitter the training today.  If I can swing it, and you’d like a small glimpse into the inauguration build-up from a volunteer’s perspective, follow me.   I’m also taking my camera with me, in case pictures are allowed.  In any case, I’ll be writing my impressions of the training later tonight (after I watch the season premiere of 24).  I’ll also follow-up with further posts about my experience as a volunteer in Inauguration 2009.

Coelho puts MySpace on hold for Festival gamble

January 11, 2009

After first signaling that he was ushering in a new era of filmmaking and distribution, Paul Coelho is apparently re-thinking the distribution plans  for  Experimental Witch.

When I first heard about it, I looked forward to following  Coelho’s crowd-source filmmaking experiment for Experimental Witch, when he announced his plans to solicit MySpace friends to help make the film, and then distribute the film in partnership with MySpace. The plan sounded innovative and fresh, and his announcement of the winners of the MySpace competition signaled this might really work. I had visions of a new model for filmmaking and film distribution.  Very exciting stuff!

Turns out, the monumental shift I was anticipating may be a while coming. Coelho appears to be sliding back towards the classic ‘festival first’ mentality. It seems a “major European Festival” is considering accepting the film as long as it’s not shown anywhere else first, including on the internet. Coelho, hoping to grab critical attention, as well as a possible theatrical distribution deal, by showing the film at major festivals, announced he’s delaying the MySpace premiere while he woos the festival circuit.

This is turning into to a textbook case of old-world film distribution clashing  against, rather than embracing, new-world approaches to reaching audiences:

Old-world: Exclusivity.  Filmmakers allow their films to be trapped by a festival vs. New-world:  Open and accessible.  Filmmakers insist on distribution freedom.

I wonder if the day will ever come when festivals drop this archaic requirement of  our-festival-first exclusivity, and realize that festival audiences are not necessarily the same as global audiences, and that one doesn’t negate the importance of the other. 

I can only imagine the MySpace filmmakers that contributed to Experimental Witch, not to mention Coelho’s fans, are disappointed in the delay.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens next.