Just forget the words and sing along

Monday, November 08, 2004

So, an assignment I've hated the most is about to come to a close. Let me tell you the whole story.

NAIT is launching this massive initiative to educate the students to treat each other and the school with more respect. You know, don't shout insults at each other, clean up your tables in the cafeteria, don't smash up the computers, real kindergarten kind of stuff.

Anyway, they approached us at NR92 to see if we could do PSAs on this subject to run on our radio station. Our instructor, naturally, turned it into an assignment.

We had to do this one completely for real, though. Before writing our scripts, we had to analyze the situation and then pitch our ideas for a PSA. I had a great idea, inspired by a true story. We have our instructor, giving his lecture, but his lecture is drowned out by all the students' cellphones ringing. Announcer comes up: "Keep your cellphones off." There you go.

Instructor loved the pitch. Gave it the greenlight. But then, she added a new wrinkle. It was at this point she decided to tell us that our spots were to be one minute long. My idea was designed to be 30 seconds long. Think about it. Once you factor in the set-up of the instructor giving his lecture, the announcer at the end, there'd only be about 10 seconds max of nothing but ringing cellphones in the spot. But, at one minute, we'd be looking at 40 seconds or so. My brilliant idea at 30 seconds would be far too annoying at one minute.

I presented this problem to my instructor. She just kind of shrugged and said, "Well, there are other things that disrupt a class besides ringing cellphones. Use some of those ideas to expand."

So, my brilliant 30-second sound effect spot turned into a very mediocre 60-second dialogue spot in which two very bratty kids display every kind of disruptive behaviour. I hated the concept. I hated writing every word. I obsessed on it endlessly trying to elevate it, but I couldn't. My 30-second idea just couldn't be expanded into a minute. My instructor kind of got the hint. I hadn't obsessed on a script for that long in ages. Finally, my instructor said, "In the real world, that'd be fine as is. Send it to the client."

so, I e-mailed it to the head of the committee in charge of this thing for client approval. Two weeks later, in today's class, Mr. Head-of-the-Committee came back with his comments.

The comments on mine: "Well, it's good, we guess. We went back and forth on it five times before we decided it was OK. but...we really don't like this one little word. We don't understand why, at this point, this chracter would reply in this way. So, could you please explain, why did you use that word? Why do you think the character would reply in this way?"

I looked Mr. Company Man square in the eye and said, "Because I was crunched for time and I really didn't care about characters anymore. I just threw in the first word that came to mind."

He was taken aback. "Wow," he said. "Honesty. No one's ever tried that approach with me."

So I changed the fucking word and I sent the script back for re-approval. And now I'm waiting for two more weeks to see if I get re-approval.

I guess the only thing that really pisses me off is that I took the whole time we had - three hours - to write this thing and send it off. Everyone else in class just crapped out stuff in 10 minutes so they could leave early. And you know the comments they got on their scripts?

"Brilliant. Fine as is."

I just don't get it anymore.

Next Issue...A Real Job

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