Thursday, July 17, 2008

Back to My Roots (Part 2)

I am the aspiring screenwriter. Like the overwhelming majority of screenwriters, I am looking for a job.

I don't mean writing. Sure that would be great. But anything to keep a roof over my head.

I had a job interview last Wednesday with ACTIVISION.

Yep. For the position of QA Tester. I'm under an NDA not to discuss what I saw, but in fairness, it wasn't like they were showing applicants every single one of their next and greatest video games ever. I saw -- um -- a break room. And uh, lots of computers.

The irony is that, I called many, many video game companies prior to this, inquiring about potential for "writing" jobs in video games. Seriously, check out PORTAL. That game is amazing, in terms of writing and characterization. A robot that is sarcastic as hell. Most of these companies had no clue what I was talking about. No surprise, there.

The trainer, Rich, was a nice guy. We hit it off. Personality-wise I think he really wanted to hire me. But I can barely beat Medium on Guitar Hero III, let alone go flawless on Dragon Force at EXPERT. Unfortunately, there was this guy... I don't want to say anything bad about him... but you know the type, the guy with absolutely no life, that could beat Dragonforce on EXPERT blind-folded, playing with his feet.

I haven't heard back. But I left, pretty sure I didn't get that job. Anyway, the point to all this is --

On my resume, it says I was a Marion Knott Scholar at Chapman, which granted me the privilege of learning from Tom Mankiewicz.

As I handed in this ridiculously technical quiz to Rich, he asked:

"How was working with Tom?"
"Great." I said, thinking he thought that was some bullshit I had fabricated on my resume.
"Superman, right?"
This caught me off-guard. "Yeah. Most people think it's Mario Puzo."
"If you know writing, you know it's Tom."

Holy f---! This guy was badass.

To point out just how badass this was, I refer you to Robert McKee, who refers to Superman and talks about how MARIO PUZO was such a genius for the manner in which he structured the screenplay.

Um, sorry Mr. Robert McKee screenwriting guru -- that was Tom. Tom Mankiewicz. His uncle was Herman Mankiewicz. Perhaps you've heard of CITIZEN KANE? Rich from Activision QA Testing Department just handed you your ass on a silver platter.

Gonna take a slight knock at Mystery Man on Film too~ He knows this is out of love -- and maybe it'll get me a link on his blog :p.
Let me just address one other aspect that no one else has mentioned. I love how they took a page from Mario Puzo’s Superman and aimed for a greek tragedy of sorts with Hancock and his love interest.
Cough*Tom Mankiewicz*cough.

Here would be a good place to place to segue into how I met Tom Mankiewicz. I wrote a story on the subject almost two years ago.

I refer to Tom as my mentor. In this day and age I feel like we are severely lacking in this department. And Tom, for all intents and purposes, was very much a mentor to me.

NOTE: I figured this was a good midpoint for a story. I put off finishing this blog for a couple days, because in all honesty, linking the story you wanted to tell (after realizing you had already told it -- well... Sort of leaves a huge void.

In taking this time off --

Activision called back.

I got the job. I am now a video game tester. I guess, the industry term is QA tester.

I play video games until they break. Or better yet, have permission to try to actively break them!

Rock on!

Sorry about the schizophrenic nature of this post. Such is the life of the aspiring screenwriter.


Lucy said...

Hey thanks for the comment(s) over at my place... I'm still working on getting a link at MoM's place too! lol

Kevin Lehane said...

Tom Mankewicz is my God. Fuck off. I think I corrected MM of this fact on the comments to that post.

I am very jealous you met him.

Christina said...

Have you seen Grandma's Boy? About a 35-year-old pot smoking video game QA guy? It's really funny.

James said...

No! But I've now heard about it no less than thirty-five thousand times since I started work there.

It's is on the very top of my must watch DVDs. If for no other reason than to not be left out of the loop :).