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The Similarities Between My Job and ‘The Wire’

I wrote on Twitter that I’ve been using this lull in the pre-production schedule to make my way through Season 3 of THE WIRE. For those uninitiated to one of the greatest shows ever, THE WIRE follows a police unit’s investigations of the criminal underworld in Baltimore, Maryland.

In the show, the police commanders have weekly meetings with the police chief, where he rips them a new one because of their continual failure to keep the crime stats in check. If you see enough of these, something starts to become clear…

Trying to catch criminals in Baltimore is a lot like trying to make a movie.

The Wire
If this were a production office, they'd be trying to answer the question, "How do we edit a PDF?"

“It pays to go with the union card every time.”
Old habits die hard. Whether it’s the stevedores of Baltimore or the AD department on a film set, people like to do things the way they’ve always done them. It’s almost impossible to break an old habit.

“The gods will not save you.”
Anybody can be fired at any moment. You’ve got to step out of line in order to draw the ire of your bosses, but sometimes, you do that without even realizing where the lines are drawn.

“I’m late for soccer practice.”
Keeping up with friends and family is hard in the production office, especially during actual production. Boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives, and kids (if you’ve got ’em) all feel the weight of our sixty- or seventy-hour work weeks.

“Business. Always business.”
The criminal informants snitch to the cops who answer to the commander who reports to the chief; the same way that I deal with the secretary who reports to the APOC who deals with the coordinator who answers to the UPM who, in turn, answers to Joe Buck the EP. And the eye in the sky (the studio) is watching us all.

“All in the game.”
Nobody reeeeally knows what the hell they’re doing. My bosses have long IMDb resumes, but even they are stumped on a near-daily basis. That’s not a knock against them. I think my bosses are very qualified. That’s just the way the business works. No two problems are exactly alike, so, to a certain degree, we spend a lot of time figuring out how to play.

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