Gluttony

Jeonju bibimbap

The only redeeming quality of Los Angeles for me is the food. To commemorate great friend & culinary buddy Allison Walsh’s escape from Los Angeles, we embarked on a dining campaign this weekend to hit as many local favorites as possible before she moves to Washington DC. In 36 hours, we experienced swanky fusion street food, pub-style dessert, home-style Korean, Middle Eastern ice cream, and a Chinese Dim Sum breakfast. Below is a list of our samplings:
 
Alibi Room (Kogi BBQ)


Stout (Hollywood Burgers and Beer)


Western Doma Noodle (Korean)


Mashti Malone (Exotic Ice Cream)


Elite Chinese Restaurant

Real People, Real Conversations

The two most common icebreaker questions in Los Angeles are “where are you from” and “what do you do (for a living)?” Understandable, because few people actually grew up here and most relocated for their industry. A quick, cordial method to find common ground (if any) or extract details enough to build a full conversation.

The problem? These questions assume that work or geographical heritage define a person’s individuality. While some levels of personality and culture can be inferred, there is so much more to a person than his or her job or hometown. Furthermore, with jobs being the core topic (because jobs are more current and relevant than where you grew up), conversations tend to become networking events. Work sneaks out of the office and slips into your Saturday night cocktail.

I cannot argue the value of building professional relationships, but oftentimes adults forget that it is important to have other types of relationships as well. I find it extremely difficult to meet new people in Los Angeles. Worse, I find it impossible to develop relationships with people outside the film industry. I blame a lot of it on these icebreaker questions. “Oh, we’re not in the same industry? We cannot work together, so, I guess … have a good night!? Nevermind that there are so many other levels we can connect on!”

My best friends here can carry on conversations about things other than work and the movies. Makes a big difference when you’ve been on film sets all day and need a mental break. And it makes a big difference when you need to feel like a human being, rather than a workaholic robot. Science, discovery, politics, love, perspective, health, the world, philosophy … the list is endless.

Every conversation does not need to be a networking event. Try to steer your meet and greets away from conventional topics. Pay close attention to people who bring more to the table than their resume.

The Official Craig Ormiston Update

This entry marks my 100th blog post on www.craigormiston.com. Three months, 22,845 words, 10,295 readers, all 50 states, 116 countries, and 164 hours of writing later (according to Google Docs), I am well on my way to posting every day until the end of the year. But, as good friend David Fox pointed out in an email, I have penciled very little on the topic to which my blog is actually named: myself. Craig Ormiston.

On the whole, web analytics have suggested that the majority of my audience cares less about personal posts than posts with general interest or advice. Therefore, I have written little about me and instead use my life only for appropriate context and examples. That said, I forget sometimes that many of you are close friends and family. And I also forget that some of you know next to nothing about me. So here it is. To celebrate this milestone for my blog, here is an update on my life:

Enter Craig Ormiston:

First, my background. My name is Craig Ormiston, and I grew up in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. I was born and raised in the same house where I lived until I left for college. With a fierce determination to direct and produce motion pictures, I pursued the film industry in Hollywood by first attending the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. I milked my education for all it was worth: I attended inspiring classes, produced a dozen films, built long-lasting friendships, networked with countless professionals, and helped engineer the future of the movie business. While it was extremely expensive, I am thankful for my days at USC. I learned a lot and met great people. To save money and get a head start, I graduated one semester early in the Fall of 2009.

I never wanted a normal day job. I spent six months after graduation trying to package feature films, engineer products, start businesses, and avoid employment. I’ve always wanted to do my own thing and change the world. But after six months with little progress, I resolved to meet with a few people and expand my options. One of my USC directing teachers, Tripp Reed, tabled for me an opportunity I could not refuse: helping him launch the New Media division of Alloy Entertainment (producers of Gossip Girl, Vampire Diaries, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and more in the teenage girl niche). Charged with producing television-quality pilots for the web, we have successfully launched four original shows and are well on our way to making several more. It has been one year this week since I started working with Tripp for Alloy. I have learned a lot about producing, the Internet, leadership, and about myself. While it may be the day job I promised myself I would never have, I count my blessings for the opportunity and experience. I have interviewed for and been offered a handful of jobs since, and none of them could rival the freedom, responsibility, respect, and pay I have been awarded here. I share a spacious apartment with two USC friends three blocks away from my office in Hollywood on Sunset & Highland and walk to work almost everyday (unheard of in Southern California). As much as I despise the Los Angeles urban space, I enjoy the pedestrian nature of the Hollywood area and walk almost everywhere I need to go.

What little free time I have after a hard day’s work is spent doing four key things. First (and most important), I eat. For those of you who know me, I am obsessed with food. Cooking, dining out, experimenting, sampling, you name it. I spend far too much money on nice restaurants, fancy cocktails, and crazy dishes. Eating out with friends is my favorite pastime. Fortunately, I do not yet have the pounds to show for it. The best part of Los Angeles for me is the range of authentic cuisines. With Thai Town, Koreatown, and Little Tokyo less than 10 minutes away, I am never far from the best. And as crazy as it can be, living blocks away from downtown Hollywood helps keep me young with swanky tasty spots open until wee hours of the night. My gluttony knows no bounds here.

Beyond eating, I have rediscovered two very important things: reading and sleep. I never read growing up (probably because I had to for class and hated it). Now, I can’t go a day without scraping the news, catching every blog post, and putting big dents in books on my Kindle. I read between 90 and 180 minutes per day and cannot stop. Mostly nonfiction. I am constantly studying the Internet, technology, marketing, business, politics, and science. In the past year, I feel like I have thoroughly covered the first chapters of an MBA and Computer Science degree alone. I continue to learn crazy new things every single day and cannot stop. I’m obsessed. The third pastime (and perhaps my healthiest) is sleep. I was notorious in high school and college for not sleeping at all. I’ve gone four days without a single wink of sleep before. Not healthy at all. And I pay for it to this day, suffering noticeable signs of memory retention loss. Without question, I get my eight hours per night now and even track it to make improvements.

My final pastime is much more broad and complex. Readers of this blog know I am not happy with the current state of the movie industry. As Sunday’s post alludes to, I am becoming impatient with movie studios recycling old crap and idling by as consumers rip the whole charade apart the way of the music business. My sights have realigned toward technology and the web. Therein lie companies that need to stay one step ahead to compete and that cannot survive by recycling ideas. I am in awe by daily news from the tech sector and am very interested in making a career shift that direction. I spend a great deal of free time designing and collaborating on web-based projects with hopes to launch them as legitimate businesses. With little background in computer science, it has been extremely difficult to land interviews with these companies. It seems I will need to build my way in from scratch. A challenge? Yes please!

I have no intention of living in Los Angeles much longer. Be it to Denver, the Bay Area, or New York, I need to make a big change sometime soon. I have been saving up to buy myself the time to build things and aim to be gainfully unemployed in no more than two years’ time. Feasible goal? We’ll see. Here’s to the future!