I’m sitting in a spotting session. That’s where the producer or director or picture editor or production assistant or janitor, if he has anything to add, tells me how their television show is supposed to sound. Things like, “When she fires the gun, we need to hear a good gunshot,” or “As he closes the door, make sure we hear the sound of a good door close.” They always preface whatever sound note they're giving with "good," as if my first choice would be to go to the really crappy door close or completely inadequate gunshot. If these things sound obvious to you, you’re overqualified to be a TV producer.
My mind begins to wander after the fifth time I’m asked to cut the door close sound effect when the door closes. “I want to say, “Do I look like a total idiot to you?” I still need this job a few more months though, so instead I say, “Oh, yeah, great idea.” I even write the suggestion in my spotting notes. I do this because the entire room is watching to make sure that I am writing the suggestion in my spotting notes.
I mentally wander off into the wilderness again and start thinking about how many times I’ve been in this same situation. I start calculating in my head. I’m not great with numbers so I have to work hard at not looking too befuddled. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I didn’t understand the whole door close thing. I figure this is about my 600th spotting session in the past 20 years as someone says, “Before she answers the phone we need to hear it ring.” The response that comes to mind is, “So, this isn’t where you want the gun shot or maybe a dog bark – you’re pretty sure about this phone ring idea?” Instead I write on my pad “phone ring before she picks up phone. “Good.” I say. “Thanks, we can keep going.” Judging from how far I drifted off that last time, I probably do look pretty stupid right now.
A few minutes later spotting the next scene, I just can’t help it. Now I’m figuring out how many more spotting sessions until I can say, “I quit.” Assuming none of the shows I’m working on now gets cancelled – about 43.
From beyond the swirling cloud of numbers in my brain, I think I hear someone say something. “I’m sorry I missed that note," I say. "I was completely lost in the scene. Yes, the sound of a car starting and driving away would be perfect for where she starts the car and drives it away. Fantastic. I love the show by the way. I feel like I really know the characters.”
Everyone’s still looking at me and the video is still paused. Oh yeah, write it down. “What’s her name again?”
I just looked back at this post and in another, and perhaps the biggest, be careful what you wish for moment, due to scheduling conflicts, budget cuts and cancellations, I probably only worked on 12 of the more than 43 episodes. That's a hefty pay cut when you're trying to save enough money for an entire year!