May, Money, and My Escape from Madness

by Derek Fletcher


Finals week; my mouth trickled out what little air I had left as coffee breath consumed my parameter. While managing to keep my grades and finances afloat, I was searching for a job in film. Film. Like, what am I thinking? People are never going to pay some twenty-year-old nobody to try to become the next Steven Spielberg. And in the Fargo-Moorhead area, the only film jobs in sight are in the news, which don’t allow the cinematic/creative juices to flow, though it’s a very respectable start.

One station was potentially interested in my doing some commercial work; it sounded different from regular production assistant work. But with the clock ticking and summer almost on its way, I needed a concrete answer. I needed a job.

With my Houdini-like ways to make money disappear, along with May’s rent and trying to keep myself fed, an email popped up on my screen that made my eyes widen. Sundog—that super modern/stylish place that visited one of my classes at MSUM! A video intern! An actual internship in film!

There were only three days left of school (and five finals) when I had my phone interview. Problem was, I was too caught up in the opportunity to realize the importance of the word “phone” in “phone interview.” All I saw in the interview invite was a path to creative filmmaking and a time that said 10:30 a.m.

My tunnel vision led me to Sundog headquarters at 10 a.m. where Laurie happily gave me a tour. I tried to stay invisible, yet see what this place was all about. I mean, Star Wars was playing on the TVs by the elevators!

Laurie seated me in the wine cellar and I waited for time to lapse. As I began to organize my thoughts for this speed interview (what Sundog is about, why projects with purpose is my forte, why I’m a great candidate for the job) I noticed I still had gum in my mouth. There was no garbage can in the room! It was 10:32!

I’m not sure if it was the lack of sleep or my sheer desire for the job, but I stuck my sticky, chewed gum in my pocket. Why that was the first “rational” choice that went through my head, I couldn’t tell you. Gum is distracting, but maybe just swallow it? Hide it in the back of my mouth? Just don’t chew it?

As sweat began to leak from my shirt, I slung my phone out of my pocket and checked my email; Justin had messaged me that he was running late for the phone interview. Phone interview—I’m not even supposed to be here!

Before I could make my mad dash out of the building, Justin called me over the wine cellar intercom and off we went. It was a culture conversation, and thank goodness it was over the phone; I looked like I had eaten a bunch of ghost peppers and was struggling to grasp the concept of life. The interview flew by, and I learned a lot about the company, the culture, and the atmosphere. Plus, seeing Sundog firsthand put me at ease (a little).

After the formal interview a week later, my girlfriend ran out of gas on a one-way and I struggled to get a gas can from the gas station two blocks away because I looked “sweaty and eccentric” (you try pushing a car in 90 degree heat) when Justin called me up and saved my life. I was employed.

I don’t want to say my life is an episode of Seinfeld, because things occasionally work out and I sometimes make the right choices. What I can say is the last several years have been by the seat of my pants; film shoots go by fast. At Sundog, I get that same adrenaline-charged, fast-paced work experience that’ll keep me young forever. (Although, when I think about it, my father started balding at thirty…) Until next time, or signing off—or however blog posts end—Sundog has been fun. I am eager for more shenanigans.