About 4 years ago, I ran into a co-worker pal from the House of Blues days. He was responsible for gathering and curating Blues artifacts. He's a towering guy with a soft smile and a timid, southern accent; a trustworthy guy. I was happy to spot him in Memphis behind some magazines and t-shirts at one of the locally owned music stores. We exchanged contact info.
Sometime later, he reached out. "I'm working for 'xyz'. Do you shoot video? She's looking for some video to rear-project during her concerts. Here's the concept..." Cool though I hadn't shot much of my own footage since college other than home movies.
My husband and I went downtown to the train station. "Xyz" would like trains, right? I shot some footage using my cheap Canon camera with its kit lens. There was some beautiful neon in the station I hadn't seen before and a handful of people traveling the week before Christmas - though none looked super eager. Except maybe one guy.
After I edited a bit of the footage, 'xyz's' management and I exchanged emails. Trains? Perfect! I sent a 45 second clip. They liked the footage. It would be mashed up with other footage and layered, etc... so the quality wasn't super significant but the images were. Let's talk on the phone.
Days went by of trying to reach each other. Phone calls unanswered. Messages left. There were blizzards in New York, people stranded, talk show appearances, tours approaching, panic buttons pushed... and finally, management reached me. I answered the phone while pulled over on the side of an icy road.
"Hello? I'm driving to the DMV with my daughter to get her driver's license. Can I call back in 10 minutes?"
I never talked to him again.
I understood. In the past, I would have never said I'm taking my daughter to the DMV instead of talking to 'xyz's' management. But was I going to risk having to reschedule an appointment for my weepy-eyed 16 year old??! In Memphis, folks have a deep understanding of the DMV and what a driver's license means to a teen. In L.A. or NY, they sometimes can't afford to. There's ten people in line for their job. Maybe they'd have someone else taking care of their personal lives unless she's Gweneth Paltrow practicing Conscious Parenting.*
More than anything, I'd like to say, "Yes, 'xyz' used my footage during her concert. I'm cool." Instead, I get to look at the footage that might have been used on a mega stage behind a pretty mega bad ass. At least, that's my fantasy. Plus my daughter's memory of her driver's license is not heaped on a pile of teenage disappointments.
In conclusion, my area code may still be an out of town number, but I've determined, from this experience, that I'm officially Memphis as Folk.
*After reading this again, I have two thoughts: L.A. & NY folks, this is not a condemnation. It's a reflection on the crazy demands of the biz. Second, this is also a boiled down, microcosm of the feminist conundrum. Namaste.