Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Luke's Angels

Anticipation is abundant, and everyone's a little on edge. Especially Gabriel. I would be, too, if I were in his wings. Don't get me wrong, he's memorized his lines, "do not fear" and all that, but, I mean, he's got the most important message that any of us has ever delivered! History-shattering kind of stuff. Pressure's on, don't want to mess up.

I don't know how much time has been spent - no, invested - getting ready, preparing the stage, but we've been busy. This is a masterpiece of a production. So many details. And so many players! (I hear most of them don't even know their parts yet!) I'm honored the Director is letting me play even a small role. I might "just" be in the backup chorus, but for me, it's a big deal. I don't think anyone is unhappy with their assignment. Well. Lou, I guess. Lou always wanted to be the star before he ran away. We try not to remember. It's a sad story.

No sadness today. Today's story is a new beginning. In fact it's the beginning of what, I'm told, will be the ultimate story ever. Words are incapable of capturing this excitement, this feeling of aliveness that permeates everyone and everything here! People woke up this morning thinking it would be just another day in the life, but they are so wrong! Today their lives are changed, forever.

Gotta fly. The Director's calling places.

Everyone's ready. Shake out the nerves. Breathe.

Cue Gabriel.


Sunday, December 08, 2013

What I'm looking for

This is post #19 (the final post) in Where's Jeremy (2013), and is a follow-on to my concluding comments in post #18

My friend Hannah asked me a few months ago what, specifically, I was looking for in a woman. Below is the email I wrote her:

What I'm looking for can be summed up in two words: Taylor Swift :)
What's that? Reality called? Oh. Okay.

Well... how about all this, then:

My demographics:

Caucasian male, 28, I live in Minneapolis and work at a computer company in St Paul. I drink socially, smoke never, have no fashion sense, usually run late (working on it), and lean left politically. Most importantly, I'm a child of God.

My profile, as it [used to] appears on christianmingle.com:
I'm Jeremy, a Minneapolis native, filmmaker, musician, computer geek, and aspiring pastor. My friends described me as loyal, good-hearted, "weirdly awesome", and genuine (though of course it's impossible to sum up an entire person in only one word).

My Dad has always "worked with computers," and I've followed those footsteps, first as a web developer at my high school, and more recently as a software tester and systems admin at Cray, the Supercomputer Company.

One of my passions is working on productions, usually movie sets. Ironically, though, I rarely make it out to see movies in the theatres, so if you ever ask "have you seen such-and-such?", the answer's probably no. Netflix is helping culture me with some classics; I wouldn't object to having your help, too!

Pinocchio and Abraham Lincoln I am not, but I can't tell a lie to save my life. My psych eval while journeying toward seminary said I'm abnormally honest and forthcoming - I choose to believe this is a good thing.

I love asking deep questions, and talking about life and God and stuff.

I love worship. Music is how I connect with the Spirit: playing my guitar, singing in church, or taking a road trip and letting my mind get lost in the lyrics.

I love Taylor Swift. Don't judge me.

I am terrified of worms. I love falling asleep to a thunderstorm, but when the worms slither all over the sidewalk and I have to walk near them, I shriek like a 5-year-old. It's embarrassing.

Feel free to ask me anything - I don't have many (any?) secrets.

Who are you? Let's talk about what doesn't matter: it doesn't matter if you're divorced, a single parent, always been single, whatever. It doesn't matter if you're rock solid on your faith or struggling through a lot of questions. It doesn't matter if you're shy or outgoing. And it doesn't matter if you do or don't know where God's calling you. We can walk that journey together, if you're willing.

Ideally, you and I share one or more passions in common (in addition to God, that is): music, movie-making, drama, caring for others.

If I'm afraid my answer might be boring, I have a tendency of giving short answers to deep questions. Ideally, you're someone who won't let me get away with that.

Maybe most critically important, when my parents and I have game nights, we always take red, green, and blue, so… here's hoping you like yellow :)

My website, which says a lot more about me:


And a list of fun, random facts about me:


Specifics of who I'm looking for:

A woman who:
  • has a strong desire for faith (important distinction here: doesn't necessarily mean they're an über-Christian, but rather that they are actively *seeking* God and have that desire to know God better)
  • is intellectual (someone who gets my awful, punny jokes; also, someone who I can explain my geeky job to)
  • is considerate of other people (the specific examples I have in mind: you don’t cut in front of other people in line, and if you notice there are people trying to pass you when you’re walking, you move to the side and let them)
  • listens, asks good questions, and will not let me get away with easy answers (and won't let me try to divert questions back to her when she's asking about me)
  • will call me out when I say something stupid or unsubstantiated
  • will challenge me to be a better me (example: "let's go buy a sandwich for that homeless person")
  • can forgive mistakes, because I'm not perfect (and I'm pretty forgiving, too)
  • does not smoke

And *ideally* also, someone who:
  • overlaps in at least one major area of interest: music, production, movie-making, drama, ministering to friends in need
  • has had some life experience, and has a life of their own (aka, we do not become each other's entire lives)
  • as my friend John puts it, "has their shit together" (doesn't mean she has her entire life figured out, but she knows who she is)
  • doesn't need to be rich to be happy

Lastly, be advised I've really got a thing for blonde hair, but that is not a requirement.

Ready? Go! :)

Where's Jeremy (2013) - Part 4: Emotional reflections, lessons learned, and "what's next?"

This is post #18 in Where's Jeremy (2013)

Creating the casting database took a tremendous toll on my physical, emotional, and spiritual health. I worked myself to exhaustion - one Saturday I had to lie down for bed at 4 in the afternoon (and then rest/sleep until the next morning), because I'd pushed myself so hard the previous week. Emotionally, I lived constantly on the verge of a breakdown, overwhelmed at the enormity of my workload and all I hoped to accomplish. Spiritually I wasn't focused at all on prayer, or worship, and made my database my idol.

In AWAKEN I frequently heard the phrase "look at your life, look at your choices." The context is basically: if you make a mistake and you really should have known better (or say something that right away you know was completely wrong or stupid), then inevitably someone would chime in with this phrase as a joking retort. I'd like to pull a deeper meaning here, though; when I look at my life and my choices, I'm left with this realization: pursuit of the "American Dream" is not worth the sacrifice of self, of fun, of friendships, of well-being, etc. Yes, hard work has a place, but it cannot be my end-all, be-all. My lifestyle choice of working all the time is fundamentally incompatible with my most precious dream of being in a relationship and having a family.

While I remain ashamed of the choices I made to prioritize work over friends, family, and God, it seems everyone understood; everyone's had those projects, big or small, that you just need to get done (I'm thinking like writing a thesis, caregiving for a loved one, filling out your work timecard, tasks large or small that are both urgent and important). So when I explained my situation, how I was dead-in-the-water for casting projects until I finished the database, everyone "got it," no one was mad. Because everyone's been there, to some degree. The lesson: allow myself grace and forgiveness.

In all aspects of life, I'm much better now. Immediately after I finished programming on June 30, a huge weight was lifted. I re-connected with friends, re-committed to attending both my morning and evening churches each week, and relaxed without feeling guilty. The pathway to spending time with God is more open with the database project behind me. When I do pursue additional features on the database (and yes I'm already planning "version 2"), I can do so at my own pace, without allowing it to consume my life. And perhaps most importantly, witnessing Matthew's entire life collapse around him in a single day continues to serve me as a humbling reminder to find my value in who Jesus sees me to be, rather than who [I perceive] the world would have me be.

Now I'll admit, parts of the casting business have been fun, and I've learned so incredibly much about running a small business, about accounting, about managing people, about managing expectations, and so on. At the end of the day, though, the reality remains that the company got dumped on me because I was the most logical choice to take it over, and not because I truly wanted it.

My parents have helped me see my time investment hasn't been [entirely] a no-op - as they pointed out, I've shepherded the company and kept it viable for a future, not-me, owner. I've also continued providing a needed service to the community. The alternative would have been closing the doors on this amazing thing Matthew had built over the past decade. Maybe I could have built the company up to be more than it is, if I'd done any advertising, or spent time and energy meeting people and reaching out to producers. But now I get to pass the company into John's hands, and feel relief. As Anne put it to me, "Jeremy, you've done what you needed to do, and now it's time for someone else to take the reigns."

Talking with my friend Mikaila in June, she said to me "sometimes you do something and it just sucks. You don't get to say 'well it was worth it because this happened later.' Sometimes nothing good comes from it, and that's just the way it is, there is no redemption." For a very long time, that's how I felt about the company. I think now that the end is finally in sight, I can reflect and say I learned a lot of important lessons, including that nothing ever works out the way I think it will. Now at long last, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, and I don't think it's a train.

So what's next? I mentioned before that I've already been planning database "version 2." Though I'm selling the casting company to John, I'm retaining ownership of the software I developed, and will be expanding it to add more features useful for primary casting (auditions), extras casting, and agencies. The hope is to market it to all the casting directors and agents in Minnesota, keeping it free to use for the actors. It will be a massive project, but I will take it in small chunks, and not allow it to consume my life (friends, hold me to this!). A lot of time, thought, discussion, and prayer went into this decision - it was not made lightly.

In my personal life, I'll continue being deliberate about spending time with friends and family. I'm becoming more involved in my evening church (joined one of the take-down teams, and also just joined the rotation for pre-service greeters). I'd like to start taking guitar lessons (I already play, but I want to get better), and spend more time writing music. I also will continue working on accepting when I have to say "no," because I'd much rather say no earlier than have to back out later.

And then of course, there's the whole looking-for-a-relationship thing. Please review this list of the 9 most annoying things to say to a single person (and pay particular attention to #3 and 7). Good, now that we're on the same page, I invite you to read over some thoughts I wrote for a friend when she asked, "what are you looking for?"

That'll be plenty to keep my life busy.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Where's Jeremy (2013) - Part 3: Samaritan Casting - Selling the company

This is post #17 in Where's Jeremy (2013)

After finishing the database, I made myself a promise: if the casting company ever again brought me to the verge of an emotional or mental breakdown, that would be three strikes and it is out (the first strike came early on in 2012, when I first started Samaritan Casting. The second strike was the database project as a whole). Barring a "strike three," I resolved I would keep the company through calendar year's end, then re-evaluate whether the database was actually accomplishing the stress-relief I'd intended it for. If not, I'd wash my hands and be done with the company.

Barely two months later, strike three came in the form of the feature film extras casting. Movie-making is a moving target, I completely understand that! But these ADs were so disorganized that they made our jobs practically impossible, adding immeasurable amounts of unnecessary and completely avoidable stress. Strike three.

Labor Day. Chit-chatting with John on my mobile telephone. I whined for the umpteenth time how frustrated I was with running the company, and that I'd hit strike three and I was done, when John asked "would you ever consider selling it?" I said, yes, but explained how there was no one who was interested, had the necessary skill set, and that I trusted (as discussed in post #15). Then I jumped out onto a limb and asked, "do you want to buy it?"

To my utter shock and amazement, John replied "yes, actually I would." Alrighty then. The conversation went something like this (not exact quotes):
Me: You mean you actually enjoy doing this [booking people and dealing with the last-minute craziness]?
John: Yep.
Me: You're crazy!
John: Yep.
John's a stay-at-home-Dad, and I know he's been wanting a side-job for a while, something he can do from home with flexible hours, that would generate a little extra income (this is why it worked out so well for me to hire him to book extras). So I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised at his interest in buying me out.

John has also become someone I consider a life mentor. Not only has he served as an "anger management coach" for me when I'm tempted to write mean emails, he has listened to all my many complaints and lamentations about the casting company, and he's been one of my greatest cheerleaders when it came to developing the database. He and Anne both have been a tremendous blessing by taking over the majority of the actual booking work for me.

We tabled further discussion until after the feature wrapped. A few weeks later, he was still interested in buying, and I DEFINITELY still was interested in selling. John's been helping book extras for me for at least 6 months now, so he knows what he's doing, he's got the technical and organizational skills, and most importantly, I trust him 101%.

This got me excited, not only because I finally had a way out, but because I know that John can accomplish much more with the company than I have or could. In no way do I mean to downplay the workload of a stay-at-home parent, I'm simply acknowledging the reality that John's schedule is significantly more flexible than mine ever could be. Even setting aside my personal desire to escape, for the sake of the company itself turning the reigns over to John is the best possible decision. Add to that the fact John is actively choosing to take this on, even after and despite hearing all my complaints, even after and despite knowing all the work it takes, and I believe he's in a much better position for success than I was when this all got dumped on me. I'm excited to see what he does with it!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Where's Jeremy (2013) - Part 3: Samaritan Casting - The Database, continued

This is post #16 in Where's Jeremy (2013)

This is a continuation from post #15

Frequently I was asked, "why the urgency? Why can't you just decide to take some time for yourself, to set some limits?" Very few people understood. The reason I needed to push so hard to get this database programming done is that I was dead in the water with casting projects until I got something up and running. If a project came in (and a half-dozen did), I had to accept email submissions and format those photos and data to present to the client. That's a huge, huge pain. Hours of work. I ended up paying my friend John to deal with collecting all the submissions, so I could continue focusing on the database development.

My friends John and Anne both helped tremendously while I worked on development - I hired them to deal with booking all the projects that came in, and they also helped beta-test each new feature as I completed work. Peter tested new features, wrote much of the text that's on the site, and drafted a preliminary terms-of-service (so I wouldn't have to hire the lawyer for quite as many hours). To my relief, my friends and family were incredibly understanding of my absence.

Part of the reason the project took so long, was I wanted it to be perfect. I approached it with a Steve Jobs mentality, agonizing over every detail: should it say "sign in" or "log in"? "Sign up" or "create an account" or "create a profile" or "create your profile"? what colors should it use? should talent profiles pop up in a separate window for accounts that have multiple profiles, or should they stay in the main window? etc. Underlying this was the principle "never settle," the most influential phrase I remember from the Steve Jobs biography. Anyone can make a mediocre user interface (and, frankly, looking at a majority of websites, I'd say most webmasters do make only a mediocre interface), but I wanted to stand out from that; making a good UI takes time and effort. For example, I spent 12 hours crafting the login page - not even the login functions, not even what happens after you click the log in button, I mean just the appearance of the page and the way the fields transition in, down to figuring out why a particular field was 2 pixels out of alignment, and fixing it. I spent all that time on details no one will ever notice, because I care about the user experience, and I wanted everything, from first impressions to users coming back for the dozenth time, to look good and work smoothly. Virtual world craftsmanship.

I took a three-week hiatus from programming in May in order to recoup, and reconnect with friends. Then it was the final push. On June 30th, I reached "code complete" status. I turned my attention to finishing the terms of service with the lawyer (I've never in my life been so excited to read a TOS), and testing all the features with Anne and John and Peter's help. In mid-July, I invited a couple dozen actors I'd worked with before to help beta test. Anne and John ran some fake extras casting projects, "booked" our beta-testers for the fake roles, and we found a lot of bugs for me to fix :) But that's good: better to find the bugs during beta-testing than when we're running a real job!

At long last, after almost five months of developing and testing, after twice or thrice making myself physically ill from exhaustion, after all the lawyering and tweaking and bug-fixing, we launched the database for public use on July 27. At the end of that first day, 170 talent profiles had been created. Within 3 weeks that number was over 500. And, in large part because of a feature movie we were running extras casting for in August/September, we hit 1000 talent profiles on September 12th (less than 7 weeks after launch). This blew away my expectations. Granted, the Samaritan Casting mailing lists have over 2500 email addresses subscribed, but I hadn't anticipated so many people would jump on the bandwagon so quickly. I felt incredible personal affirmation seeing so many people successfully using the software I'd developed.

I got to test the database's real-world functionality immediately, because the day before launching we were hired to book 6 extras for a corporate video. This meant I was able to have real roles open for submissions on Day 1 of the launch! I chose to book that project myself, rather than hiring John or Anne, "just in case" something went wrong. I did find a couple new bugs, but overall the database did exactly what I designed it to do: make it ridiculously easy to collect talent submissions, send a link to the client so they could view headshots and make selections, and then allow me to send out booking info via both email and text message, with the click of a button! (okay, two buttons: the second being an "are you sure?" confirmation) It also let me put as many people as I wanted on standby (backups in case some of the primary choices decline/cancel), again with the click of just a few buttons.

The database continues to work well to this day. I've received numerous compliments from actors and producers, and it has made the entire booking process much easier.

However. We discovered some limits. Specifically: due to its lack of a flux capacitor, the database can't predict the future. We were hired to book 300 (later increased to 400) extras for a feature film shooting mid-August to mid-September. There is NO way whatsoever we could have booked that many people without the database. Also, to be frank, there's no way we could have done it with the previous software I'd used before March. So the database was instrumental. But. When production frequently put off telling us their needs until less than 48-24 hours before call time, there's a limited amount of stress-relief the database can possibly accomplish; you're still going to spend hours calling people on the phone, because who knows how often they check their email where they'd find out they're booked. I wised up to this pretty early and created generic roles for each day, then asked people to submit for ALL the days they were available, rather than waiting until we had specific role breakdowns. This mitigated some stress as much as a digital solution possibly could, but the work was still stressful. I hired Anne and John to book all the roles, so by far they bared the brunt of the stress. As I believe any good manager should, though, I hopped into the trenches with them to help with phone calls and pushing production. Anyway, we survived. And, point being: the database did what we needed it to, and did it well.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Where's Jeremy (2013) - Part 3: Samaritan Casting - The Database (or, why Jeremy hated his life for four months)

This is post #15 in Where's Jeremy (2013)

In February 2013, the online casting software that I and my predecessor used for accepting talent submissions (automating the tedious task of collecting actors' headshots and contact information) announced it would soon start charging actors to upload headshots or submit for roles, features that had always been free. I have 2500+ people on my broadcast list, there is no way (logistically or morally) that I could ask all of them to spend money on the service just for my convenience. Therefore I had three options:
  1. Close down my company
  2. Accept email submissions (which is a HUGE pain)
  3. Develop my own online casting software
Believe me, option 1 was very tempting. As many friends have heard me bemoan, the casting company has been a major pain-in-my-butt since day 1. Given that, I'm frequently asked two variations on the same question: "why do you keep it?" and "why don't you sell it?"

The answer to the first is partly due to my pride and ego, and wanting to retain bragging rights to say I run a small business. Part is a feeling of obligation to my friend who built the company up over the past decade; who am I to have the right to close it down? And a large part is a feeling of obligation to continue providing this service to the community, both for the actors/extras, and also the producers, directors, and especially student filmmakers, who use the broadcast lists to post their casting notices. My therapist keeps trying to remind me: I don't owe anyone anything, but... I can't help feeling a sense of duty. I want to help people, I mean, after all, I named the thing Samaritan Casting.

The second question - "why don't you sell it?" - is much less emotionally complex (though people never have seemed to get it). There simply was no one who:
  1. had any interest in purchasing the company
  2. had the skill-set necessary to continue running it (in terms of technical ability, business management, detail-orientedness, etc), and
  3. I trust, in order to pass the torch
Any number of people meet one or two of those requirements, but [until recently; future blog post] there was no one who met all three.

I opted against closing down, at least for now, and started developing my own online casting software, specifically catered to extras casting. I'd actually hoped to build this software years ago for my friend, just never got around to it before the out-of-town company came in and offered him their software for free. But that meant I already had lots of ideas written down, and also, now having run the company on my own for a year, I had a good handle on what features I needed in order to make my life easier. Ultimately that was my goal with the software: to remove as much stress as possible from my extras booking process.

While working at Minnehaha, I developed an online back-to-school forms database called RORS. I say "back-to-school forms," but RORS did so much more than that - it also generated complex reports for superusers, dynamic PDFs and CSVs, all sorts of bells and whistles. RORS was my baby for the better part of four years. It was a massive project. Foolishly, I figured I could create this casting database, which would be as complex as RORS, in just a month or two in my spare time. Bahahaha how egregiously wrong I was!

To my benefit, though, I used many lessons-learned from my time developing RORS. For example: planning ahead as much as possible. This helped avoid countless late-in-the-game database changes that would have required extensive code re-writes. Before I wrote a single line of code, I brainstormed all my features and designed database tables to accommodate all their interconnectedness (like headshotIDs linked to talentIDs, which are then linked to userIDs, and resume items, and so on). Time very well-spent, because by the time I finally did start coding, I had already thought through many potential issues and figured out ways to avoid them.

<nerdy things>
In addition to basic project planning skills, I also knew from my RORS development that I wanted to use a different javascript framework. With RORS I had used Prototype and Script.aculo.us, having seen an impressive demo of them at WWDC07. However after years of continuous RORS development, I knew the next time I built something, I wanted to jump ship to a different framework called jQuery. In my opinion, jQuery is easier to use, and from what I can tell it has a larger user base, which translates into substantially more online resources to help solve problems.

On a less-happy note, despite my awesome planning I didn't account for needing to learn a brand new syntax for MySQL queries. PHP's new mysqli commands take three times as many lines of code as their predecessors, but supposedly are more secure. The learning curve was higher than I'd expected, but eventually I figured it out.
</nerdy things>

From March through June I devoted every spare hour I had to coding, to the detriment of my physical health, emotional stress, and ability to spend time with my friends and family. Programming on the database became my entire life outside of work. I reneged on volunteering at church, on phone calls with out-of-state friends that I already didn't get to talk to enough, and drew down on the time I allowed myself to spend hanging out with my local friends. Life sucked.

On that downer, to be continued...

Monday, December 02, 2013

Where's Jeremy (2013) - Part 3: Samaritan Casting - Misconceptions

This is post #14 in Where's Jeremy (2013)
There are moments that change your life, and ten years later if you know in retrospect it was one of those moments, you're blessed, but to know it at the moment...
- Randy Pausch, Last Lecture
In my blog I usually try to focus on the positive, or at least, my lessons learned. Unfortunately living a human life means downers are unavoidable, and this is one such case.

In February 2012 I made a decision I knew would change my life: one of my best friends asked if I'd take over his casting company, as he was no longer able to run it. I said "yes," holding high hopes for the opportunity this presented. I hoped it would be a change for Good, but I knew either way, I'd be changed for good (Wicked reference).

I've yet to stop regretting my answer. Maybe in another ten years I'll have a different perspective (I hope when I'm ten years older I'll have grown in my view of the world!), but in my present-day, this casting company has brought little more to my life than tremendous stress and frustration. In the first weeks running the company, I received at least half a dozen terribly nasty, hostile emails from people who were angry at the previous owner, and decided they'd take that anger out on me. Not acceptable. I was naïve to the community's [apparently] cruel and unforgiving nature. It makes me sad.

Other stressors were the phone calls from actors asking why they weren't booked for a particular project, or who didn't read the directions that were very clearly spelled out in a particular casting notice, or who ask where their paycheck is when it's been less than a week since shooting (productions hardly ever send payments in under 4-6 weeks). Having questions is fine, but asking questions that have already been answered (in a booking email or on an online FAQ, for example) is not a productive use of time for anyone.

Eventually what I've determined is that people must hold a lot of misconceptions about me and about the casting company. Here's my best guess as to what's going on:

Misconception #1: Samaritan Casting is all I do.
Reality: Wrong. I work a full-time day job. Samaritan Casting is something I do in my spare time, out of the goodness of my heart, as a service to the actor and filmmaker community.

Misconception #2: Samaritan Casting is highly profitable.
Reality: Haha, that's funny. In 20 months I've made a couple thousand dollars. We're talking 4-digits here, not even 5-digits.

As an example, let's look at an audition I held for a commercial a few months ago. We were paid $500 to run the audition. Of that:
  • $100 went to rent the location
  • $180 went to pay 3 staff (each $60) to run the check-in table and record audition videos
  • $75 went to paying John to handle all the scheduling, and deal with people needing to re-schedule/cancel/get in and out in a hurry, etc
  • Another $20 went to pay John to schedule callbacks, which were hosted by the client themselves

At the end of the day, that left $105 in my pocket. 5 hours of auditions, plus time training John, plus making selections of who should get auditioned (who fit the demographics/looks the client wanted), plus developing extra code on the website in order to play the videos, plus encoding and uploading the videos, meant I got paid less than $10 an hour.

Misconception #3: We play favorites.
Reality: Not really. Clients almost always make selections themselves; very rarely am I (or John or Anne) given the opportunity to pick people ourselves. When we do, it's typically for large crowd scenes where individual faces won't be seen anyway. If a client asks for recommendations from a list, I will put in a good word for reliable actors I've worked with in the past, or about whom I've heard good things from past productions, but even then, the end decision belongs to the client.

Misconception #4: We're a big company.
Reality: Nope. I'm a sole owner/proprietor. I do hire my friends to work on specific projects (Anne and John to help with bookings, Lee and Jim for wrangling, Mark and Melissa to help with auditions, and Peter to post notices), but everything else I do myself: negotiating with clients, website development, invoicing and banking, answering support emails, etc. Someone once called asking for the payroll department, which completely took me aback.

And finally, Misconception #5: This is my passion.
Reality: No. It's not. I'd much rather be on set, or working as a producer on pre- or post-production, intimately involved in the movie-making. Extras casting is something I know how to do, and can do well, but it's not my dream job.

I can understand why people might believe some of these. For my predecessor Matthew, casting/extras casting was all he did, and it was his passion. He actually left his full-time job at the Red Cross because the casting business was picking up with national and local commercials, feature films, and lots of smaller independent shorts. He was booking all sorts of people for all sorts of productions, it became his "real" full-time job, and he loved it.

Though I have enjoyed some parts of the company, at the end of the day I'm not Matthew, and I'd like my life to go a different direction. Perhaps that is Misconception #6: this is what I want to do with my life.