In the fall of 2005 I interned on the Warner Bros lot at a development office located right under the iconic water tower. On my first day I realized I was mainly there as a transportation vessel for caramel macchiatos and egg white omelets, but I didn’t care – I was living the dream.
Every day there was a flurry of activity in the office and I was expected to keep up. “Will Smith is coming in today. Please, please don’t ask him to get jiggy with it.” This was asked without an ounce of sarcasm. Okay, no jiggy. “Run to stage 16 with these script revisions and please don’t talk to the actors. Especially Richard Dreyfuss. He’s been in a water tank all day and we hear he’s very cranky.” Richard’s having flashbacks to 1974, got it. “We’re out of apple butter and watermelon juice!? Fly like the wind to Trader Joes!”
Like the wind I flew. I was contributing to the world of cinema. My name wouldn’t be in the credits or on IMDB but we all knew – this whole machine would come crashing down were it not for my ability to hold seven cups of coffee at once or search high and low for that special peanut butter that guy in the copy room kind of likes to eat sometimes.
It was exhilarating in that development office. Deals were made, artists waltzed in to show concept art for the new sci-fi project, Hollywood speak was bandied about. “I have Terry for Harris. Checking availability on Brad, Tom, and Liam. Sir, would you like a cold or room temperature water?” But what most intrigued me were the graduate level professors that walked in with their sport coats and sour ‘I’m-up-way-too-early-for-this-shit-and-it-better-be-good’ faces: the writers.
They usually had the later meetings, accepted their (normally) room temperature waters with a smile and sat waiting and waiting as actors, directors, and yoga instructors took up the more coveted appointment times. They’d leaf through the industry rags, talk with the assistants, and politely correct executives when asked why they hadn’t waxed the Lexus in space six.
How did these writers keep going? They were constantly being re-written, fighting to get noticed, and the fates of their original dream projects were in the hands of recent college grads. To me, these were the real rockstars. They didn’t swagger into the office with $600 sunglasses on, holding the keys to a Bentley. They slinked in wearing ironic T-shirts and cool sneakers, holding tattered scripts under one arm.
The scripts they carried were the blueprints for everything that went on in that office, the Warners lot, and the entire machine of Hollywood. That’s how I saw it at least. So when these writers sat down to wait, after assuring the VP of production they were not, in fact, the pool contractors there for the 11am, I’d make sure to fetch them the most room-temperatury bottle of water possible and deliver it proudly, knowing full well I was, once again, responsible for keeping Hollywood running – by hydrating the architects, the true stars of the lot…the writers.