Still making calls…

I was still making calls the entire week last week. It was pretty boring, but I knew it had to get done. Something that I realized about starting your own business from the ground up is that the beginning process is very tedious and requires a tremendous amount of patience. You have to work towards a goal that isn’t necessarily tangible yet, which makes it frustrating to continue with your work. With that said, I have had to figure out ways to keep myself motivated to get through the 400 contacts on my list. For example, if I’m playing music in the background, I’ll make a deal with myself that I have to make 3 calls by the time the song is over, or I won’t be able to start eating my lunch until I get through half of the contacts on a pages. This has helped me move forward towards my goals and I am learning a lot about my work habits along the way.

Brick squad

On Thursday the 26th, I once again attended a kind of meeting at the metro HQ, but this time we did not meet with suits from metro, we met with different paver companies and waterproofing companies ,(pavers are basically nice bricks). We meet with them because the company is working on a really big project at the metro HQ where they would be removing around 50,000 feet of brick and replacing it. I was quite surprised by how much work it really takes to do all that work, for the project to be completed on time there might have to be a crew of 5-7 guys working 3 shifts 24/7. There are also different little parts of the contract that metro expects the company to do as well, like moving a garden and stair case back 20 feet to make more room for the buses to turn. After that little meeting we checked up on a project in progress not to far from where we were and there the construction workers were busy pouring concrete to make the ground safer and at a legal steepness for a handicap rail.

To end the day me and my mentor met with an architect at a local restaurant in Redondo Beach named Hopsaint and while we waited for the architect I was treated to a flight burger, (I highly recommend it). After eating we took a look at the handicap parking area outside the restaurant and made sure everything was up to code.

Week 2 (part 1) – Dresses Galore

So this week began with me finishing off some of the analytics numbers I was working with. Once again reminding me how much numbers are not my friend. However, Excel HAS become my friend because they literally use excel for everything that needs to be typed out. I once made a google document of links to websites because I figured “hey its literally just copy and pasting links onto a sheet this is perfect for a plain doc” and when I shared it my mentor for the day, Kevin, he looked at me with a smirk and said “You made a google doc…? hah”. So endless boxes of Excel it is! My first assignment for this week was to log sample inventory. I assumed this was just a simple organizing assignment. I was wrong. Oh so very wrong. Tania was my mentor for this assignment and she is also the brains behind the names of all these dresses. So for her this assignment would’ve been a breeze. But for me….I had to manually sort through the ENTIRE Fame and Partners website to find the same dress that I had in my hand. So I started with the first box which had about 15-20 dresses in it. Once I got into a rhythm it wasn’t so bad; I ended up finishing within a solid 45 minutes and was so proud of myself. Then I looked over to the cluttered storage table to the horror which was 7 more of those boxes. Black Coffee was my savior that day.


p.s. here is a picture of the bathrooms here at WeWork…they are just modern and cool!  They are also playing dance/club music in each stall quite loud so bathroom break is always a party!

Me having fun in supa’ cool stall

Supa’ cool stall

The Hills Aren’t Alive with The Sound of Shelling (Thank God)

It is 6:38PM here in Sarajevo and 9:39AM back home.

Saturday was the first time I got to meet with the director, Valery, along with Sue and Paja. We sat and discussed the ins and outs of “Looking For Dayton” for several hours and came up with a coercive vision for the documentary overall, setting the tone for how the footage should come together along with things we still need to film. They also extended their deadline to 2018 instead of next year, which I thought was a very wise decision.

We went up to the hills of Sarajevo yesterday (the city itself lies in a valley) and got a lot of shooting in. Paja and one of the men who had been in his unit, Camo, showed us around; most of the fighting from the siege of Sarajevo took place up there. They spent a lot of time arguing in Bosnian over the remains of buildings, trying to figure out which had been the medical center, which housed them during shelling, etc. It was probably one of the most beautiful places and vistas I’ve ever seen, with giant meadows everywhere and brilliant green foliage dotted with crumbling concrete structures and a 360 view of all of Sarajevo. There were caution signs for minefields at the top of one of the hills – kind of jarring, to say the least.

Later in the evening, we went to dinner with Kristijan, who will be in charge of most of the documentary’s music. I had also been shooting with Paja and Valery on Sunday morning in Sarajevo and have been compiling a montage of that video that Kristijan wants to use to base his music off of. It’s been really wonderful to feel like a part of this documentary and I’m beyond blessed to even be here in the first place.

I wasn’t feeling well today, so I stayed in the office to work on going through and labelling footage they already had along with picking out useable shots from what we got the past couple days. I’ll be out shooting in the city on my own most of tomorrow.

Camera Geek Out Time, Part whatever: I have used all three of my lenses quite extensively while I’ve been here. The big boy I have, 70-210mm, actually got some use when I was doing ariel shots of the city from on top of a hotel, though the tripod was being really temperamental. My 50mm has been great for the “artsier” clips they need and my 18-55mm and I are in a love-hate relationship because the f-stop doesn’t go down to anything lower than a 5, which makes shooting past sundown nearly impossible with that lens. Also – I thought I was going to start crying the other day when this kid decided that “there was no difference between shooting in auto and manual.” EXCUSE YOU. I walked out of the coffee shop, very disgruntled, shortly after that.


I saw some shows.

Between now and my last blog post, I saw two shows. Because I want to be at Woolly a lot this week, I wanted to fit shows into the weekend. The first show was called Blackberry Winter, and it was about a Woman taking care of her mom with Alzheimer’s. The plot centers around her internal conflict with opening a letter she receives from the assisted living facility that she thinks is a letter telling her to move her mother to a nursing home. This causes a lot to come out of her. The play was fantastic and very moving and it made me think a lot about my grandma. Most of all, it made me want to visit her, so I’m gonna do that when I get back.

The other show I watched was called An Object Lesson, which was really different and really cool. The set was a room lined wall to wall with boxes, and not clean boxes, but like dirty storage boxes. They were all over the room, no seats, just boxes. The ushers invited people to look and touch everything around them, open a box and look at the contents. The show was pretty much a one man show, with a lot of audience participation. He would take things out of boxes and just talk about the object, and the memory associated with the object. It was a really unique theatrical experience and I’m glad I got to see it. And of course, because James knew him, I got to go backstage. I met the creator/performer and got to pick his brain a little bit and I learned a lot.

Tonight was the first preview for An Octoroon. It was a pay what you can show which I think is a cool way to make theatre accessible. It’s a really great thing that a lot of theaters in DC are starting to do. The preview went really well. It was a full house, with standing room in back, which the actors appreciated greatly. This is an example of a show that is better with an audience because a lot of characters talk to audience members and play off of them. It was a really good show and it looks like we’re going to have a great week of previews!

More to come.

Office vision

My chair, which faces a desktop computer at the corner of my L-shaped desk, points toward a window looking out toward the parking lot of an office complex in which many small businesses base their operations in the town of Torrence. I’m not thirsty, but I keep taking sips out of the red solo cup I fill at the water cooler more than twice an hour. On the desktop there is a folder called “Joe Temes,” in which there is a subfolder I recently made out of another subfolder. This new subfolder contains the contents of California’s English/Language Arts Common Core, organized differently than usual, and the text of which for the next three days I will be editing to emphasize the differences of the hundreds of specific requirements as they progress thru grades K-12. My attitude toward my project is this: there are birds outside, sitting on branches, living in a world that people in situations such as I’m in romanticize… but brother I’d love some fresh air. I will work on a list for three more days. The movement of time is indifferent to me… and I’m on my way out.

Buddy Club at PTN

Every Tuesday-Thursday, 3:45-6:15pm, I work with PTN’s Buddy Club. The program works with groups of 4-5 children. The groups are formed based on the children’s age, compatibility and dis/ability. The three groups I work with possess very different dynamics. The group I work with on Tuesday consists of 4 boys, ages 8-11. These boys have very different personalities which makes group work interesting and difficult at times. In every session, my role as a volunteer is to encourage positive interactions between the boys. One boy in particular gets upset if he is not picked first for an activity or loses at a board game. I quickly remind him before each game not to get upset and to enjoy playing. The group I work with on Wednesday consists of five boys, ages 10-13. These boys all have very different behavioral issues. Some get extremely upset and I have to make sure they do not harm themselves or others when they cope with their frustration. The group I work with on Thursdays has to be my favorite group. When I met the group, I instantly found ways to interact and connect with them. Buddy Club has “play dates” for every group in which one member hosts an activity at a different location. When I met with Thursday’s group, one boy was hosting his play date at a park. At this play date I  helped organize games for them to play, while making sure they all stayed close together and safe. They all seemed to enjoy my company and listened to me better than the two head supervisors. When one boy I connected with the best started getting rebellious and misbehave, I pulled him aside and asked him what was wrong. He said he did not want to play what the others were playing. I had the boys make a compromise so they all participated in what others wanted to do. Overall, I greatly enjoyed playing and connecting with these children. I enjoyed noticing the positive impact I had on their social development. I look forward to this final week.

Transcendence and trap

Transcendent – “extending or lying beyond the limits of ordinary experience”

The past week was scattered with discussions of the possibilities for a connection between cuban music and the popular music that is played on America’s top radios. I came in the conversation perplexed, and unconvinced. To me, there would be no such lineage as the history that separates the two has been clearly defined, both musically and geographically. But Pascal proved otherwise, and after a week of debate and research, I was persuaded that the thesis to my project would rest on something substantial.

As Pascal lives and works in Hollywood, not too far from the great record and movie store Amoeba, I decided to adventure into the store in a field-research mission to discover what this connection was really about, musically. I picked up a few CDs and vinyl records, some cuban, some african. Of the latter, one that stood out as resembling some of the patterns I was hearing on the cuban records I bought was an archival recording of Yoruba drummers from Nigeria. After bringing up the idea to Pascal, his face shone with an expression that needed no words to signify that I was getting somewhere. He mentioned the transcendent value of the Yoruba musical traditions, and their ceremonial and religious approaches to drumming, singing, and most importantly dancing. Out of curiosity, I asked him if it would be a stretch to link it to our Western traditions, such as dancing euphorically in the club to trap music, or singing Gospel in church and moving into a state of pure bliss, as he’d mentioned it before. Before he’d said anything, I knew I was on the right track.

New Project

I recently got assigned a new “project” on Friday that requires A LOT OF WORK. Well not really because all I have to do is cut out a lot of floor plan designs and frame them individually. It’s not a lot of work, but it does take time and energy. I try my best to cut out each floor plan perfectly, but its really hard when you only have an exacto knife and most of the designs don’t have straight lines. It is a little nerve-racking as well because these are going to be used to show the client how their house is going to look like and I don’t want to mess that up. As of right now, I am almost done, but it took me a little over 3 hours to finish what I have right now. At the same time I’m learning how to read the floor plans and know the difference between a Traditional house and a Modern house.

Job Sites

On Wednesday and Thursday I was invited to go visit two houses that were under construction. The first one was on Stone Canyon Road, right next to UCLA. I didn’t know how the house was going to look like at the end, but did know that the house was going to be huge. I met the owner of this house and she was a nice, old lady. She talked to me about how this was her dream house and was going to pass it down to her kids later on. This place was going to have a big backyard, with a pool, a guest house, and a basketball court.

The second house was located on Hillcrest Road in Beverly Hills. I would say that this house is my favorite so far and when we went to go visit the house, most of the inside was almost done. This project was almost going into its 4th year of construction and that is because this house is a freaking mansion. The owner of the house told me that this was for him and his wife and that it was meant for big events. I knew that he was talking about parties because you can fit more than 100 people in that house. The house had a pool, a pool house, and two guest houses. One that is attached to the main house and the other that is below the house. I also forgot to mention a small part of the house that was meant for the butlers and maids.