Friday, June 28, 2013

How I Spent My Unemployment

By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

With the shift in focus here at my123cents, I figured this might be a good time to start blogging again.  Dealing with pop culture opens up new avenues for thoughts and means I can go at least a month before I start recycling the same topics over and over.

For those that don’t know me, I freelance in the Reality Television world. This means I don’t have steady employment. Work one show and when it wraps up, I have to hustle to find a new job. Thankfully for the past three years, I’ve worked on a popular network show.  This means when we wrap out we know when the next season is starting. In the past, there was an average of seven weeks of down time. Since we would wrap out at the end of March, beginning of April, I had the opportunity to meet up with Kevin for our yearly Geek Week trips and then spend some time visiting family before going back to work.  This year was a bit different. Instead of seven weeks, we got three months off. That’s not really enough time to work on another show. In fact I had to turn down (technically I was turned down due to not being available through September) the new E! Network WWE Divas show.  That was a heartbreaker. Since I wasn’t working, I needed to find a way to spend my free time. Enter Movie Pass.

If you’re not familiar with Movie Pass, it’s kind of like Netflix for the theater. For $29.99 a month you’re allowed to see one movie a day. Based on movie prices here, that means if I see 3-4 movies a month, I'll break even. The limitations are you can only see a movie once, can’t buy advance tickets, can’t see Imax or 3D and the movie has to be showing at a theater that accepts Movie Pass. Here in Los Angeles, Movie Pass works with AMC theaters and most of the Independent theaters so there’s never a shortage of films to see. Or so I thought.
I returned from a trip to Illinois on April 29 and knew my next trip was on June 6. Since I didn’t have anything better to do with the days in between, I decided to see if I could see a different movie every day.  With the number of multiplexes and different theaters, I thought seeing a different movie every day for 37 days couldn’t be that hard.

Since I had had been traveling most of April, I had only seen two movies in that month. This meant I had a lot of movies to catch up on making the first two weeks easy to pick a movie and see. It wasn’t until the last week that I was running out of movies and going to see films I knew nothing about just to keep the streak alive.  I realized during this time that just because a theater has 15 or more screens, that doesn’t mean they are playing anywhere near 15 films.  In this age where every movie has to have screening in 2D, 3D, Imax, and 3D Imax, on average, a theater is only playing about 8-9 different films. Each week they may have 2-3 new films. So seeing 35 different films in 35 days was harder than I imagined.  Thankfully LA has several repository theaters so I could supplement new films with older films. 

Here is the list of films I saw from April 30 through June 5.
Iron Man 3, Oblivion, Pain and Gain, The Croods, Escape from New York, Oz: The Great and Powerful, The Goonies, 42, Mud, Place Beyond the Pines, Trance, The French Connection, No One Lives, Desperate Acts of Magic, GI Joe 2: Retaliation, And Now A Word From Our Sponsor, The Iceman, Back to School, The Outsiders/Rumble Fish, The Great Gatsby, Ghastly Love of Johnny X, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Free Samples, Cleopatra, Black Rock, Hangover Part 3, Super Mario Brothers, Epic, Stand By Me/Kings of Summer, Fast 6, Stories We Tell, Kon Tiki, Sightseers, The East, After Earth, From the Head, Sirius ,Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

After a three-day delay from June 6-9, since I still wasn’t working I continued to see movies. Even though I did do another week straight of hanging out in the theater, I haven’t felt the need to make sure I saw a movie a day. If it happened, fine. If not, then that meant I actually had something else to do that day. Since June 10 these are the movies I’ve watched.
Deceptive Practices, The Internship, Rapture-Palooza, This is the End, Frances Ha, Battlestar Glactica, Man of Steel, Now You See Me, The Purge, Dazed and Confused, Monster’s University, Berberian Sound Studio, Compulsion, World War Z

I’m writing this on Friday morning. I’ve got three more days before returning to work. I will probably try and see at least one movie this weekend. Factoring in two months of paying for Movie Pass as well as the three movies I had to pay for due to not being able to use Movie Pass on those screenings, I spent $99 on tickets.  The cost of the actual tickets, had I paid for all of them, is $488.50. So even if I don’t see another movie this year, Movie Pass has paid for itself for the year.

I’d like to say after watching so many movies I had some deep analysis to offer up. I don’t.  I do feel the bigger the explosions in the movie the thinner the plot.  I don’t understand why studios make low budget movies and then don’t promote them or release them for wide viewings. Movies I would highly recommend are Mud, Kings of Summer and From the Head. Simple stories yet wildly entertaining.  Fast 6 is easily the most entertaining film of the summer so far.

That’s how I spent my time on the unemployment line. Now it’s time to get back to work and make some (hopefully) good TV. In the words of the late Siskel and Ebert, the balcony is closed. 

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