I have my interview with Jump! Creative at 2:00, it’s only 4 miles away from where I’m staying. I check my E-Mail to find a message from Chris Hanson of NWA Hollywood. I E-Mailed the wrestling promotion a week ago telling them I want to meet up and talk with the promoter or booker about coming in to wrestle, make friends, or help out behind the scenes with filming/graphics/editing. Chris’s E-Mail told me to call the producer of the show, David Marquez, and gave me his number to call.
My first full day being here and I have an interview as an After Effects artist 10 minutes away from where I’m staying and a potential to meet with the producers of one of wrestling oldest and most well-known and prestigious promotions, the National Wrestling Alliance.
My challenge of the day is to interact with 5 strangers, while looking in their eyes enough to remember the color and write it down. Same challenge as yesterday, just a little extra.
I’m doing Insanity’s “Insane Abs” workout, it’s only 40 minutes and I’m already feeling burnt out 10 minutes into it. Taking a break from working out is never a good thing I’m starting to realize.
I call David from NWA and leave a message about who I am, why I’m calling, and to call me back, I hope he’s as open-armed as the rest of California seems to be.
My interview is in 2 hours, enough time to shower, pick out what I’m going to wear, take a brief nap and be well rested for Jump! Creative.
I looked into them and their team, this company seems legit. The woman who E-Mailed me about coming in, Clea, has a LinkedIn Account, I may have been stalking her a little bit - it was strictly for business.
Clea tells me she’ll introduce me briefly to the owner and C.E.O., Doug Triconi, then introduce me to the Visual FX and editing team. This is starting to seem more like an orientation than an interview.
I’m not taking a nap, I hope my eyes aren’t glazed over from jet leg too much, I can feel them getting glossy on the drive over.
I am extremely comfortable and confident about the interview itself, After Effects is my forte - I am honestly more focused on starting my challenge for the day.
I want to say his name was Brian, let me into the offices of Jump! Creative, on the 4th floor in the far back of this giant office building. This company seems legit.
Clea comes out of her office glowing, with beautiful silky brown hair - not too light, not too dark, they perfectly complimented her eyes - they’re brown. Perfectly fit white jean pants standing at about 5’10,” in her heals. Sparkling lip-gloss, the perfect amount where less is more. Very white teeth and a natural, genuine smile. And her eyes.
She asks me about my plans, I answer and ask her story. She just came from New York about 6 months ago, giving me no indication of her age. She’s originally from Indiana, where she went to school… she said she was a 2010 graduate, doesn’t tell me how long she was in college for though. She seems young either way.
I go in to meet with Doug Triconi, the C.E.O. he’s wearing a sweater, a scarf, sweatpants, and tennis shoes. He apologizes and says he’s coming down with a cold and staying awake for his children in the middle of the night isn’t helping. His eyes (they were bright green with a blueish hue, clearly a lot of oxygen in them) lit up with delight or excitement when I walked into the room with my backpack, portfolio iPad case, and glass of water the Clea had given me.
I’m only drinking water for the entire month of January, another one of my self challenges, so I’ll take it whenever I can.
Doug and I made what felt like small talk, because it felt so natural and I understood the company, After Effects, so I spoke Doug’s language, which is always a good thing. I got sidetracked with excitement of one of the projects they’re working on.
Doug tells me it’s an entry level position, I’m the first person they’ve had come in to talk to them, there will be a bunch of interns running around as well, and that this job essentially doesn’t start until February.
“What’re you going to do if you go back home without a job?” Doug asks me.
“Well I’ll probably work back at home for a few more—”
“Well I suggest… that you come out here anyway.”
I had to let that sink in for a minute.
I notice a pair of handcuffs behind glass in Doug’s office. I’m wearing two bracelets that have handcuffs incorporated in the design. Also being a magician I felt obligated to ask.
“What’re the handcuffs for?”
Doug looks over to where I’m pointing, “Oh those? Those are for Clea.” He smiles. This is a boss I can see myself getting along with. “No, no, my friend gave them to me when I first opened this project to represent the struggle and challenge the creative mind can be shackled to.”
This company seems legit.
I was let out of Doug’s office and introduced to Cave Man, or Cave… for short. His name is really Ryan, his eyes are blue. His wildly long, out of control blonde hair is where he gets his nickname, closest thing to the troll doll colorful hair from growing up.
Cave was the head video editor/motion graphics artist. His office was small, but it was his own office, door and all. He had balloons scattered on the ground from his birthday from December 10th last month, still haven’t thrown them away.
I pulled a balloon out of my back pocket.
He got excited, but a controlled excited, “Oh yeah, you’re a magician aren’t you?”
He went out of his way to go to my online portfolio, they looked into me just as I did them.
I put his phone in a balloon, magically. He tells me he loves magic. We continue having small talk about editing, what I work with and what I’m comfortable with. We were speaking After Effects language. He told me they use wiggle, turbulent displacement, things like that, there wasn’t a thing he said that I didn’t fully understand. I threw out an expression of wiggle(.25,10) to him and he was convinced I knew exactly what I was talking about, because I do.
We went next door to meet Cooper, the last guy on the team that I have to meet. His eyes were brown, he’s a 19 year old… the whole team is young, I fit in and belong here.
Cooper has a big room, it’s a dark room. With a couch, a 46” television monitor I’d say used as the secondary monitor for his i-Mac.
The three of us really didn’t talk much about video editing… I drove the conversation towards my magic and wrestling, try to get the uniqueness of me engraved in their brain. It was just a casual small-talk shoot-the-breeze type of interaction with these three, no pressure on any of us. It felt like I was already a part of the team and we were about to go out to lunch.
I let them know I’m 21 and the oldest said I’d fit right in with everyone.
I locked eyes and said goodbye and thank you to Clea one last time, there was definitely something there. You can’t explain it, you just know it’s there, it’s undeniable. I felt extremely welcomed and wanted.
This company is legit.
My lucky rabbit feet are treating me well.
I call Shelby Johnston, one of my girlfriends from our home state of Michigan. We make plans to meet up later tonight in Ventura, an hour and a half or so away from L.A. We’ve been E-Mailing each other and keeping up to date with each other since we last saw each other in May.
I promised Dave I would cook and clean and pay for rent during my stay in the apartment, so I make him, Haviere, and Josh, Pizza Subs.
I leave to meet Shelby at her house at 7:15, the 405 is packed so I’m taking the scenic route to avoid the heavy traffic, it’ll probably end up taking less time anyway.
I’m about 15 minutes away from Shelby’s house now, I’m getting a phone call from an 818 number, that’s Los Angeles. I pick up to hear David Marquez on the other line.
“Hey Evan, what can I do for you?”
“Hey David, thanks for getting back to me. I’m an independent wrestler from Michigan, I’m in Los Angeles for the next two weeks with plans to move out here. And right now I’m just looking to make friends and meet people, I’m also a magician and a video editor. So I would love to meet up with you, or the promoter, or the booker of the NWA Hollywood promotion and help out with anything you guys may need behind the scenes.”
After some more small talk and asking me who I was trained by, I was nearing Shelby’s house, she lives in the middle of nowhere, quite literally. I’m a little lost, but this conversation is far more important.
David asks me, “Would you rather be in the ring or behind the scenes like operating a camera?”
“I’ve done both for multiple promotions, but I would much rather be in the ring.”
“Do you know how to operate a 7D or a 5D?”
“Yes, I’ve worked with those camera’s for the past two years, I’m very comfortable with them.”
“Oh good, because no one here knows how to use them.”
My lucky rabbit feet are treating me well.
“Well we’re having a pre-production meeting for this Sunday’s show both tomorrow and Saturday,” David continues.
“Probably later in the afternoon, I’ll give you a call tomorrow so we can get you in on the meeting and talk to you a little more.”
We hang up.
I couldn’t ask for things to be better. Now I just have to get out of the middle of this intersection and figure out where exactly Shelby lives.
Shelby and I give a big hug hello, her eyes are green in the center of the iris with the outer rings turning brown, but I already knew that.
She’s driving, I leave my backpack with extra clothes and camera at her house, I just need my jacket and cards.
We drive 20 minutes to downtown Venture to check out the bars.
I realize I left my wallet with my ID in my backpack at her house.
“Let’s go back and I’ll drive my rental back here.” I tell her.
“Well let’s see if we can get in without it.”
This gives me an idea.
It’s only 9:30, we get into The Watermark bar without any hassle. It’s an older crowd, Shelby gets a beer, I tell her let’s leave when she’s finished.
We go on a wild goose chase for The Crave Lounge, we found nothing but dead ends and dirt roads, so we head back to where we came from. It’s getting later so the crowd is picking up. We pick a bar to go to with the most traffic, The Good Bar. We see a tall black man being the security guard checking IDs from everyone.
We park the car.
“Now when we get up to the line we have to play it off like I’m just realizing I forgot my wallet.”
“Let me do all the talking, I’m confident I’ll be able to get in.”
We approach the security man, I’m the first to say anything, all according to the plan.
“Hey, how’s it going?”
“Pretty good, can I see your ID’s?”
Shelby reaches in and pulls hers out, her hair is so much longer in her ID photo.
I pat myself down and discover I left my wallet at Shelby’s house.
“What?” Shelby asks as she looks as me with an extremely worried and confused face, she’s great.
“I left my wallet at your house.”
I point my attention to the security man.
“I actually just flew in yesterday from Michigan, and I know you won’t believe me, but I don’t drink. My friend is just trying to show me Ventura and I promise you I won’t drink anything.”
“It’s true, he’s from Michigan.”
Security man isn’t having it. I pull out a pack of cards.
“Can I show you something?” I ask him.
“Yeah, you can show me, but I’m telling you right now, you can not get in here without an ID.”
“Okay, that’s fine, check it out.”
I’ve done this before…
“I want you to think of any card in the deck, just not a common card like the Ace of Spades.”
“You got one?”
“I turned one card upside-down in this pack of cards before I came here… what is the card you’re thinking about?”
“The Jack of Clubs.”
I take out the cards and spread through to find one face down card in the middle of the deck, just like I told him there was.
“If this is the Jack of Clubs, you should let me into the bar. Because chances are it’s not right? But if it is… you should let me in.”
He flips over the card. It’s the Jack of Clubs. He starts laughing and smiling, I’ve broken the hard outer shell. I’ve done this before.
Laughing, he says, “Go ahead in man, just behave yourself.”
“I will and thank you, what’s your name?”
Bryan has brown eyes.
Shelby and I relax and enjoy the live music. She gets another beer. We’re talking about other couple’s around us, people that seem like they’re one their first dates. And how everyone has an awesome Frenchmen’s mustache.
I’m enjoying myself, but iI can’t sit still, I’m here to network and make friends.
I go outside back to Bryan, he’s happy to see me. We small talk, I show him another powerful magic trick.
He freaks out, tells his fellow-bouncer to come look at a trick. I performed Two-Card Monte to him. His name is Garrett. Blue eyes.
A snowball effect is starting to happen.
“Who are you?”
“Where are you from?”
“What’s your story?”
Small talk filled in with tricks between the small talk leads to meeting about 6-10 new people.
Eric, or Barry McKokinnya is what he liked to call himself. Brown eyes, looks like Truth Martini.
Titus. Brown eyes. His friends were calling him “Tight-ass.”
LJ, short for Little Jon, had an awesome mustache, as well as relatives named OJ, DJ, and BJ.
Andrew. Brown Eyes.
Marissa. Blue eyes.
And Byron. Brown eyes.
Byron sees me doing magic to his friend Titus, I performed S.W.A.K., arguably my most powerful close-up effect.
“Did you just fly here from Las Vegas?” Byron asks me.
I had to stop.
“I just came from a layover in Las Vegas, I’m from Michigan though.”
“Yeah, you were sitting across from me and my son on the plane.”
I was confused. I have a bad short-term memory.
“Were you on your iPad and doing something with cards, like shooting them up in the air?”
Who else could that be?
It wasn’t until later until he asked, “You don’t remember sitting across from my son and I?”
I thought he meant the plane, he really meant in the terminal. Turns out it was the same father and little boy playing dice on the chair across from me in the terminal. This world is crazy small.
“I wanted you to show my son a trick but I didn’t want to ask and bother you.”
Shelby and I end up sitting with Titus, Byron, and Eric/Barry at a table for a good half hour or so, enjoying the music and each other’s company. I keep introducing Shelby as my fiance.
I don’t like to overstay my welcome, I exchange information with everyone, and hand out my card to a few people. Shelby and I agree that it’s time to go. We say our goodbyes to everyone.
I achieved my goal for the day.
Shelby’s parents invited me to spend the night. We get back to her house at 1:30am, I’m freezing. Shelby tells me it’s because I have bad circulation. I think it’s because I shaved by whole body for wrestling a few weeks ago and now my warm fur is gone.
Her body is always so warm and offers to share her body heat with me. She invites me up north to the Berkley/San Francisco area to spend the weekend with one of her girlfriends, Brittney, and her boyfriend up at Brittney’s place. That’ll happen next weekend if it happens at all.
Shelby tells me she’s tired and it’s time for bed.
She’s showing me to the couch where I’ll be sleeping. She’s tucking me in.
“You love me.” I tell her.