THE 65 YEAR-OLD INTERN - DAY ONE
After a crap couple of years, 2022 didn’t seem like it was going to be an improvement…
I found myself at the start of January with no directing jobs booked, and no production company representation.
On top of that I’d just turned 65. WHAT? Sixty-five years old!!! How did that happen?!
I could have sworn it was only five minutes ago I applied for my first ‘proper’ job back at Bridge Advertising Ltd in 1976…
So, to cope with it all - I confess - I had a bit of a rant on Facebook and LinkedIn.
I waffled on about - how I didn’t understand advertising anymore, and how, after 45 years in the business, I was finding myself with more questions than answers!
The only logical solution (it seemed to me) was to offer my services to any advertising agency that was interested… but as an intern.
Just to start again from the ‘bottom’, and discover how it all works now…. and that is how I ended up with a month’s internship at St Luke’s.
They could see the potential of squeezing the last bit of creative juice out of me before I throw the towel in - and I could see the potential for getting answers to all of my burning questions.
The most basic being - what does it take to get a job in an agency nowadays?
I’m fed up with staring at the sad eyes of students while I have to explain to them that I haven’t got a clue how to put a winning portfolio together (do they even call it a portfolio any more?).
Another question - when it comes to directing commercials, who are those people who turn up on my set and start shooting a different film?
Sometimes it’s not just another crew, sometimes they’re from a whole different agency!
What’s that all about?
Another crucial bit of info I’m currently missing: how to secure a commercial to shoot in the first place. Who am I writing the treatments for? Is it the creative team? The ECD? The TV Department? Or the client?
And one more brain teaser - WHY do I fast forward through the adverts now? After all… I LOVE advertising!!!
All of those questions and more needed to be answered, and I was ready with my notebook. Suddenly, I realised... the most burning question of all… “Is an old git like me, armed solely with a bag of magic markers and a layout pad, of any use to a modern agency?”
I knew life in Adland had changed a lot in the last 30 years (around the time I last worked at an ad agency). I’d felt the repercussions of the changes in the pre-pre-pre production meetings and in the new ‘collaboration’ on-set.
But I was looking forward to experiencing it first-hand as a new creative recruit!
I thought, “what’s the worst that could happen?” I might even get taken out for some posh lunches by a photographer’s rep or production company boss…
Even better I might get to make a commercial I’d actually written or (almost as good) a poster campaign!”
So the night before the start of my internship I was understandably a little bit excited, and a touch nervous too: I wanted to make a good impression.
So, after a bit of piss-ballin’-about, I opted for a slightly more casual get-up than usual. I was an intern after all.
All of that tea-making and photo-copying and stuff. I needed to be smart, yet flexible. Down with the kids, yet aware of my advancing years…
A ‘DENTON’ trackie top and a pair of ‘tweens’ (that’s my own custom-made tweed trousers, cut like jeans)...all finished off with some colour co-ordinated socks...Perfect!
And I had to have my wheelie trolley packed. After all, I had a complete set of magic markers to transport and a bundle of layout pads, that I was sure to fill during my four-week creative stint.
Come the day, after a couple of last-minute wardrobe adjustments, I found myself late. So late in fact, I had to brave the tube rather than jump into a black cab (usually my favourite mode of transport).
That’s where my relatively new ‘old person’s bus pass’ came in handy!
20 minutes later, a quick march up The Strand and I arrived at St Luke’s reception; shiny and a bit flushed, but only four minutes late.
I was welcomed, handed a key card and led to my office.
So that’s what that bright spark meant when he’d quipped on my tweet, “The good news is, you’ll get a massive office. The bad news is, everyone else will be sitting in it.”
He did get one thing wrong tho’ - there was no-one sitting anywhere… the place was almost empty.
I unpacked my magic markers and layout pads, hoping to look impressive when people walked in.
I’d been sitting there, alone, for some time, and was starting to get cramp. So I took an office tour in order to familiarise myself with the office equipment - in readiness for when someone asked me to send a fax or something. But still… no-one came.
Feeling a bit lonely, I went to make myself a cup of tea and as a consolation I thought I’d treat myself to a biscuit. “Maybe I’ll hit the jackpot and find a Bourbon!” I thought.
I was delighted to see that it wasn’t all herbal infusions and liquorice tea bags: they had proper tea! Result!
The not-so-great news was that they had tons of different milk, but sadly none that had ever seen the inside of a cow.
I failed to locate a biscuit too, so I happily noshed my way through two packets of complimentary peanuts.
One thing that did keep me busy were all the pings on my phone: my iCalendar was mysteriously filling up with meetings and Zoom chats.
I’ve never had so many emails about meetings in my life. I still use a traditional (paper) diary because clearly I don’t fully trust technology, so keeping both diaries in sync was becoming a full-time job.
The tidal wave of emails was both unrelenting and bloody tiring so I was starting to feel ready for my afternoon kip.
Not wanting to be discovered under the meeting room table, knocking out the ZZZs, I decided to head home.
Later, at the end of a long thread of emails, I discovered the one that explained the St Luke’s rota system; most people work from home on a Monday. Ah.
Right! Forewarned is forearmed! Or… something like that!
All I know is, it’s going to be different tomorrow. I’m going in ready for anything: white shirt, white tie, double-breasted blue gabardine jacket with brass buttons, check trousers… pint of milk.
Director - jonniemalachi.com
DoP - jonniemalachi.com
Editor - matthewprickett.com
Colourist - jonniemalachi.com
Music & Sound - Harpal Mudhar and Jack Chown @ Mood Gospel