It is the eleventh hour when we we are brought in to write on the project. But the call goes well. Mutual praise is doled out. Everyone is excited – we to write on the job, the agency to see what we come up with. Oh yeah, that reminds them, they’re hoping to get our bid and treatment early in the day Thursday – less than forty-eight hours from now. That’s a very tight turnaround, but it would be a sweet reward. Glad to be in the mix, we agree to get right to work.
Treatment writing commences. Ideas are born. They go to battle, build on one another, cut one another into pieces and sprout growth in new directions. The bid is assembled and some questions bubble to the surface. How tight is this budget, we wonder? Back and forth with the producer reveals they’ve already showed three director’s reels to the clients, which surprises us. We understood we were late to the party, but we didn’t understand the existing guest list.
Lo and behold, a few of the directors are folks we are familiar with, one more than the others. He’s from a town 15 miles away from where we grew up, he’s our same age. Our high school football and baseball teams battled it out in the very same conference, while we roamed the halls at the very same time. It’s a small world, we remark. The producer agrees – in fact, he’s friendly with a few chaps we went to high school with who also happen to work in advertising and production. It’s a very small world, indeed.
By early Thursday our bid has been whittled down, line by line, until it is achingly close to the amount the client has to spend. Only our strongest ideas are left standing, and we spend our morning packaging them up neatly into an 18 page opus detailing, as specifically as possible, how we’ll tackle the job should we win it. Just past noon we pen a brief but persuasive email, we attach everything we’ve worked so hard on for the last forty-eight hours, we hit send, and then… we wait. Time slows to a crawl. As the old song goes, waiting is the hardest part.
An hour later, a reply from the producer. Succinct. Enthusiastic. “Awesome!” to be exact. Later that afternoon a more thorough response; they’ve had a chance to look through everything and are impressed with the quality of work we turned around on such a tight timeline. We’re thankful for the kind words. Still on track to award tomorrow, we wonder? They hope so. They’ll certainly know internally which way they want to go, the question is whether or not they’ll have buy in from the client – that might not come until Monday. Meh. Okay. We brace ourselves for a weekend of uncertainty.
We fill our time with the Vimeo Staff Picks Feed, with pages from books, with Dmitiri Basil music videos. We plan our evenings and weekend. And we continue to wait. We scroll through days worth of a neglected Facebook feed. We find a pleasant distraction – there is a photography show opening Friday evening featuring the work of Daniel Arnold, a young New Yorker being heralded as the Best Photographer on Instagram.
We’ve been reading about Daniel Arnold periodically for the last 18 months, since his instagram account was suspended for posting a wonderful, tasteful picture of two unidentifiable women sunbathing on a beach, topless. Arnold is forced to start a new account, and it is even more widely followed than his old one – the publicity surrounding his exodus from Instagram having garnered him no small amount of attention. To pass the time, we read all we can find about him online. We watch his awkward interview with a local news station hyping the photography exhibit. We learn that although he is now New York based, he originally hails from Milwaukee, just like us. It’s a small world, we think again.
This is a photograph of Daniel Arnold. According to many people on the internet, he is the best photographer on instagram.
Right around five PM on Friday, the phone rings. It’s the agency producer. He thoughtfully, sensitively, tenderly informs us that we did not win the job. It’s gone to the director who grew up fifteen miles away, from the production company we’re quite friendly with, that we respect and admire. The producer compliments our bid and treatment once more – he thinks there are plenty of other opportunities to work together. He encourages us to be in touch when we swing back through Milwaukee, and we promise him we will. We thank him for the opportunity to write and bid on the project, it was a pleasure. And then we hang up.
Shit. There are few things in life worse than not winning a job. Luckily, we have plans for that evening to meet friends for pizza. There are few things in life better than pizza.
With an hour to kill we swing by Daniel Arnold’s photography show at Paris London Hong Kong. Arriving minutes after the doors unlock, we climb the stairs, follow a few signs into a very small gallery where Daniel Arnold himself is standing, phone in hand, grabbing a quick charge before the event hits full swing. We shake his hand and introduce ourselves. He tells us we have familiar faces. We explain that we hail from Milwaukee as well, and he says, dryly “that must be it,” as if Milwaukee is such a small place that everyone who has lived there knows everyone else who has lived there at a glance. We like him immediately.
We take our time looking around the exhibit, and then we move into the hallway where we fish ice cold Busch Lites from a blue plastic tub nestled in a distant corner. A black binder sits on a table at the entrance to the gallery, opened to a print out of one of the articles we spent the afternoon reading. We flip through the pages (more articles we’ve already read) before flipping back to the start of the book where there is a one page write-up on the importance and meaning of Daniel Arnold’s work. It reads almost like an artist’s statement. It is thoughtful, well written, moving, even. Half way through the piece we think “This Daniel Arnold is not only a gifted photographer, he’s a gifted writer.” After finishing the final paragraph our eyes scan down the page to the signature line and we see that this one page was not written by Daniel Arnold – it was written by a friend of his, or an acquaintance, who admires his work. The author happens to be the director from the town fifteen minutes from where we grew up. The director who just won the job that we did not win.
We reread the page again. We were not mistaken – it’s quite good. Draining the last tepid finger of beer from our cans of Busch Lite, we move down the stairs of the building and out the door, onto the sidewalk and into the brisk evening air. Crossing the street, moving toward the pizza parlor where we’ll meet our friends, we can’t help but think, once more, and one time too many, it’s a small world. Oddly so, sometimes.