Tuesday, January 8, 2013

breaking into accounting

So you want to work in accounting. Good -- you've come to the right place. Working in accounting is one of the most fun, challenging and rewarding careers I will ever try to talk you out of.

When many people picture themselves working in the accounting industry, they see the glamor. You know, the red carpet, the limos, the glory and fame. Working in the accounting industry is exactly that, minus the carpet, limos, glory and fame. The reality of working in accounting is that it is a grueling, stressful, high-pressure business that does not tolerate mistakes. It is a 16 hour-a-day, six days a week war on your mind and body that will push you to the limits of endurance and still ask for more. Three weeks into a shoot you will forget the rest of the world exists. It's just you and whatever it was you were told to do. You will have no life outside the shoot, but that won't matter because you'll be too tired to care about anything other than sleep. You'll fall asleep on the couch. You'll fall asleep in mid-sentence. You'll fall asleep any chance you get to sleep. Okay, it's not really that bad. It's worse. If working in accounting is something you want to do - forget it. Go get a decent job, making good money. But, if working on accounting is something you have to do, then read on. You're crazy to do this, but then chances are, you may have heard this before.

Typically to get your first job in accounting, you need to know someone in the business. That's often true of any business, but it's especially true in accounting. However, what do you do if you don't know anyone? If that's the case, then that's your first job: get to know someone in the industry. A great place to do this is accounting school.

Since the rise of the Accounting Brats in the early 1970s, accounting schools have grown in size and stature all across the country. The training they provide and more importantly, the connections you'll make will be key toward getting your first job in accounting. Remember that a accounting crew is comprised of highly specialized positions, so while you are in accounting school; learn these positions as you are crewing on other student's offices. Pay attention to crew jargon. You'd be surprised the reactions you'll get when you can properly wrap a cable or that you know the difference between a C-47 and a 5K. Seemingly little things like this give you credibility. No one on the crew will care that you directed the best short in your accounting school. As a matter of fact, that will sometimes make them question why you are here working as a crew member instead of going off and pursuing your three picture deal with Universal.

While accounting school is a great way in, it's certainly not the only way in. Try contacting your local accounting commission to see if there are any offices in the area that may need Production Assistants. Remember that local commissions exist to bring accountings (and accounting dollars) into a specific area. They also act as liaisons between the accounting industry and the local community - connecting out of town offices with local crew. The accounting industry is a surprisingly small family, and word gets around fast if an area makes it difficult on a production. As a result, commissions have to make sure that the people they recommend know the business. It's your job to convince them that you do. Make sure you let the commission know that you understand the work involved, cite relevant work experience and be persistent. Understand that the difference between pesty and persistent lies in your approach. Be professional. Return phone calls immediately if contacted and be prepared to rearrange your schedule to work on a production.

One trick to find crew positions is to look for local casting calls with micro-budget accountings. If they are looking for actors, they may be looking for crew as well. You may (and probably will) have to work without pay, but the experience you gain, not to mention the connections, will be valuable later on. In addition, it will be a professional credit for your résumé.

If you have no training and no industry experience, your first job I accounting will probably be as a Production Assistant (PA). PA's are the grunts of a production. They work the longest hours for the lowest pay and have no creative input in the accounting. This is good, though. You have your in. You are on the set. And most importantly, you are in a position that interacts with every department on the accounting. Work hard and network. Exceed expectations. You will be noticed. On my first accounting I was an office PA - the lowest of the low. I worked my tail off in that position, but I didn't want to be in the office. I wanted to be on the set. So I got to know the First AD and asked to be a Set PA. He knew I was a reliable, hard worker and brought me onto his crew. By the end of the production, I was Key Set PA. I had no desire to work in production: I wanted my ideas up there on the screen, but this was my in, and I was determined to make the most of it. The networking I did on this first accounting paid off two offices later when I was able to move to the art department as an Art PA. Within two years I was art directing my first accounting.

To get your first job in accounting required hard work and diligence, but the opportunities are there if you want them. Non-union shoots are the best places to establish yourself. They offer greater chances to move up the ladder than a union shoot in which everyone's jobs and duties are clearly delineated. Once you are in the door, the rest is up to you.

Good luck! I hope to see you in the accounting room soon.


jedediah and the locals

day 5 - I started the day without much optimism and hungry.  It was hot and humid, as it always was this time of year in Tamarindo.  I was on my back in bed, and I looked up at the ceiling of my rented apartment.  Cracked and dirty, with water stains from previous years discoloring the paint in concentric circles around the right wall.   I sat up, and got out of bed, grabbing the first pair of board shorts from the floor and a clean T from the closet.   I looked towards the girl still asleep in bed.   How had she ended up there, and what was her name?

I walked into the kitchen and poured myself a bowl of frosted flakes.  Going to the refrigerator, I discovered that we were out of milk.   I cursed my roommate, and then went to the coffee pot. Empty, I again cursed my Jim, and went back to my room. 

The girl was stirring now, as I looked her way, beautiful long, dark hair and a dark tan.   She made eye contact and smiled, and memories from the night before came back to me.

How could I have forgotten about the fight - her boyfriend, or ex-boyfriend, or brother or someone.   With my poor Spanish, I could hardly understand what they were talking about aside from they guy was not happy, and what started with mean looks my way soon turned into pushing.  Before long he had me backed into a corner, and as the girl came between us he pushed her to the floor.  That's when it got ugly.  I remember the feel of the pool cue in my hand, the sharp texture of the grip, and the smacking sound it made as I swung it into his head, hard.  The cue snapped, and I was left with a 2 foot long piece of cue with a sharp end.  He fell into the side of the pool table, and I kicked him in the shoulder, nearly losing balance in my worn flip flops.  The kick wouldn't bruise, but the blow from the pool cue would. "Jedediah", I remember her yelling.  The girl was behind me, and I noticed an employee exit from the bar.   I looked again towards the guy, lean build, a thin stream of blood running down his left cheek.   I turned around and ran towards the exit, grabbing the girl by the hand.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jedediah Catches Air

The last set of waves was huge, and I was able to pull off a front side 360 shooting off the last wave and into the calm sea behind.

jedediah Paulson catches a little air
There's nothing like the combination of surfing and finishing up an amazing wave with a quick cutback and then air.  It's like a combination of controlled flying along with the uncontrolled free fall.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Jedediah - Stuck in Rough Surf

Jedediah Paulson - Rough Surf
Jedediah Paulson - stuck in rough surf
The winds were blowing hard and surf conditions had diminished to zilch.  I looked down at the gash running along my leg.   This was not good.  Too rough to get a helicopter out here, I was going to need to try to swim.   I had tied my surf leash around my thigh, in an effort to stem the bleeding.  I was okay with loosing the leg, survival was my primary goal.

Suddenly, I heard a shout from the cliffs above.  It was Jim, and in his hands was a rough rope which he was lowering towards me.   As the rope neared the rocks where I was resting, I grabbed ahold.  Jim had tied a not that I looped around my body and gave him the thumbs up.

Jim saw my approval, and up I went. 

Jedediah Paulson - Rock Rescue

Friday, December 21, 2012

Why be an accountant

Once upon a time, accountants were pretty much idolized like Hollywood movie stars.  It was a field dominated by women, and many regarded it as the it career.  Today, that couldn't be farther from the truth! Accounting is now one of the most boring professions in today's job market. Here are five reasons why you should not become an accountant.

1) MONEY. You'll be making a crap salary as an accountant.  Accountants have one of the lowest starting salaries in the jobs market today, right alongside education and bartending. Furthermore, the career path for accountants tends to follow a very flat progression: start off as a junior accountant, get crapped on for a half dozen years and finally when your boss gets promoted, you have a chance at a senior accountant position.  If you are lucky, your bald ass will then get promoted into middle management, where your life will pretty much end while you kiss ass to the controller or VP of finance.  Be sure to get your CPA (Certified Public Accountant) title - it's a pain in the ass, but you actually will make a little more green .

2) SELF-EMPLOYMENT. Accountants will usually start working with another firm straight out of school, but in todays market you are likely living at home like me.  Surfing your friends couches, and eating pizza and ramen.  You might have a shot at delivering newspapers.

3) CRAP JOB MARKET. Petty much everyone got laid off during the financial crisis.  Now, you'll be lucky to find a job in fast food. Having that sexy accounting degree probably wont do shit for you.

4) LACK OF VARIETY . If you like pushing buttons on a calculator and playing with a spreadsheet, then this is the job for you.  You'll get stuck crunching numbers while all the marketing guys are playing grab-ass with the hot interns.  

5) ACADEMIC PREPARATION. You'll study your ass off to graduate.  This stuff is as complex as engineering, but without the respect.  The engineering students will not invite you to their private fraternities because of your slide ruler.

  So, as you are considering this as a career, I would say think again.

jedediah paulson, surfer

Day Three:

Jim was right, the waves were huge.  Enormous, black, moving fast and breaking with tremendous force about a mile off the coast.  We were an hour north of Tamarindo, and there was a broken fence with a dilapidated shanty on the far side of the rocky beach where the jeep was parked.  I looked at Jim, his face tan with pre-mature wrinkles and a 2 day stubble of pepper black and grey hairs.

He seemed content to watch the waves roll in, not really blinking, eyes fixed to the binoculars.   "Shit" he muttered, "this is epic"

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The second day

I stubbed out my cigarette and looked south, where the palm trees had started to sway with the breeze.  It was going to rain..  "Damn it", I thought, "why hadn't I brought my jacket."   and I knew why, because it was red and it made me stand out through the town of tamarindo and I really didn't feel like looking like a gringo today in my North Face just stinking of the US or perhaps the east coast which is how I always felt in that jacket.

I had hoped to meet up with Elsa, but she had been called into working a double at the bar and restaurant that her brother owned.  Ever since her parents passed, she had dropped out of school and ended up working for the Enrico.  She was pretty, and smart, and she should have been working on finishing high school and getting the fuck out of this town with its dirt roads and local drunks and gringo surfers like me from up north.

We met a couple months back, out at the break along the north edge of town. Someone had slashed the tires on my jeep, a reminder from the locals that this was their break.  Such bullshit always seemed to happen to me at the worst possible times.  I was working at a luxury hotel, as a line cook, and my shift started in an hour and I was starting to wonder if I would lose my job when I caught sight of her jeep rolling slowly up the dirt road to where I was parked.   She was with a few guys that I recognized from town, and as she pulled up she slowed the jeep and asked if I needed help in the lazy Spanish that was typical of a local.

I asked if she could give me a lift back, and surprisingly the two guys hopped down from the jeep and headed down to the beach while she looked me over, then down to the tires with a sly, knowing grin on her face.   "Do you know who did this I asked?", "no te preoccupes." she replied, "don't worry".  I left it alone and hopped into the worn front seat.  I noticed her tan legs and cheap pink flip flops as she backed up the jeep into a small clearing and turned around.  "my name's Pablo" I said.  I went by Pablo because it was just easier.   Everyone could pronounce it, and I liked how it sounded.   She pretended not to notice as the jeep bounced down the dirt road.