April 03, 2004

the daddy track

Lizbeth could have been reading my mind this past week. Single mom, yep, that's me. Work around the clock spouse, yep, that's Dan. Workplace that doesn't give a rat's ass about family life for daddies? Yep yep yep. Dan got home somewhere between nine thirty p.m. and one a.m. every night this week. Do I hate it? Of course I do. The only difference between my situation and Lizbeth's is that Dan hates it too.

But they build these impossible deadlines into the TV schedule and there's no leeway. The episode shoots on a given week and airs on a given week and as an editor, you have the time in between to cut the dailies together, sit with the director, implement notes by the producers, studio, and network, and lock the show so the sound crew and color timers can do their stuff. If the schedule gets squeezed -- and they always do -- then you have less time and therefore work more hours. Beyond that, though, people always keep you waiting. Producers try to do too much and always run behind and don't see the editor as a fully formed human being who has a fully formed life, therefore they don't usually call down to the cutting room and say "Go home, I'll see you in the morning." And so Dan works his butt off for two weeks and then sits in the cutting room and waits on someone else's pleasure.

It's insane. He could do much of his work at home on his computer if the show runners were willing to switch to Final Cut Pro (some are, some aren't) and if they allowed their editors to telecommute (most wouldn't, I suspect). But even if he did, chances are he'd just be home and working his butt off. Somewhat better but still not ideal. I hate the fact that this, like so many industries, demands so much from people and yet gives so little back. But if you give less of yourself, you're out on the street next season.

And so I'm single mom chauffeuring my child and playing with my child and feeding my child and doing the laundry and buying groceries and making dinner and trying to squeeze my own work somewhere in the cracks in between. And I don't love that, but I would hate not being here for and with Damian. I used to work in film/TV editing too. Can you imagine Damian's childhood if I hadn't left? Two parents coming home at eight or later every night. Nanny = Mommy? That's why I left. Well, that and I love to write and wanted the chance to build that into a living. Could we have worked it the other way around? Could Dan have left and I have stayed? Absolutely and I would have been the absentee one and Dan would have been the stay at home single dad much of the time. We didn't because I wanted to write. This works as well as anything would in this situation. We don't have the freedom to do it differently. So here we are.

Are there other choices? What kind of career can you pursue these days that's satisfying and well paid with opportunities for challenge and creativity or promotion that also gives you time to have dinner every night with your family? Is there anything like that anymore? In this get-ahead world, someone else will eat your career for supper (or, more likely, a midnight snack at the office) if you leave it alone for a second. How do career-minded daddies or mommies get off the treadmill? Is it possible to have quality of life as well as quality of work? Why does it have to be so hard?

Posted by Tamar at April 3, 2004 09:31 PM

I truly feel sorry for the loss of family time, but if it's any consolation at all...Dan's episodes are the best. Seriously. So, thank you for sharing him with all of us.

And, if you see him, ask him if they keep cutting K's scenes out, because the story there is a leetle bit choppy...:-)

Posted by: Rachel at April 4, 2004 09:15 PM

Dan says no. At least in his episodes, K. doesn't get cut more than anyone else. Dan likes him as an actor, BTW. I think it's just that L. is around more, built into both main locales, so he naturally gets more screen time though I don't think more actual story time. (And I agree, that storyline has been a bit choppy lately.)

And I passed the compliment on. :)

Posted by: Tamar at April 6, 2004 11:21 PM

Thanks! Well, story is choppy now and then...I guess when a show is become quite good we become quicker to judge. Hope you all enjoy the hiatus, although I'll be ready for next fall to come!

Posted by: Rachel at April 7, 2004 07:49 AM