Maybe I found the perfect summer job, but I was a frustrated student. I felt like I didn’t learn anything very useful in college. I was haunted by the idea of my first steps into the world of work, which seemed like a giant black hole where I would disappear into a sea of grey suits.
I spent my time ditching classes and partying entire weekends, wondering what I’d do with my life, making music and putting together rock concerts with my best friend, which I didn’t think of as a serious activity or something we could do as a career.
But of course it couldn’t be, because I enjoyed it.
So I had a good time, but thinking about my future… Made me so anxious. I could cry.
And then one day, I had to find an internship at the end of the year. I was studying communication at the time, so I could try pretty much anywhere because hey, everyone needs to communicate. And since I like contemporary art well enough, I got an interview at the MOCA in my town.
I prettied myself up, and almost totally emptied my bank account to get a pair of boots, took a nice deep breath before entering into the director’s office who… scared the shit out of me.
The meeting didn’t last long. I said goodbye politely and then practically leapt down the stairs to get outside to take a breath. And in my frenzied escape, I heard:
I raised my head and right there in front of me, a tall, smiling man, looking straight at me. He had a rather rare elegance in my world populated by rockers in slim cut jeans. I blushed and said, “Thanks, but they ruined me!” He smiled, and I was off.
The next day, my phone rang.
At first I didn’t really understand who was talking to me, but then I realized it was the guy that I ran into for a second the day before. He was the director of the cinema department of the museum. His name was B. He loved my boots, and from this simple moment of inspiration, he decided I would be the perfect intern. He talked to the director of the MOCA who, I imagine, gave me away without a second thought.
A pair of boots. Voilà. That’s how I ended up working in cinema.
The theaters that B took care of were exciting. He decided what would be shown, and every month he put together a program the same way you put together the perfect menu. Each time, he would chose a theme, and go through tons of films, old classics or modern wonders, unknown or blockbusters, and put together the most amazing programs.
As for me, my role was to talk about what was being shown in the press.
Without me knowing, I was becoming the new cinema PR person.
With absolutely no idea what I was doing.
My first days were painful. I spent hours upon hours behind my desk trying to figure out what I was supposed to do. Every time B had his back turned, I called my best friend, who was a journalist, and way smarter than me, and she explained everything to me with more patience than I could believe.
I cursed my teachers who didn’t teach me how to make a phone call. I was writing press releases as a compilation of all the ones I could find (and this is before the explosion of the internet!).
I always waited for B. to leave so I could make my phone calls to journalists and oh man, I’d get so red, I could barely talk, and I’d say utter nonsense to them, especially if I called Inrocks or Libé, (these magazines were demi-gods to me at the time). I’d have total blackouts and hang up. Classy.
But not so fast, at the end of long work weeks full of perseverance, my internship became a real job and I got more organized, less freaked out, and starting getting results: the theaters were filling up.
There weren’t just moments of total break down, I should say. B and I got along great. Both of us had pretty much the exact same ratio of craziness to joy. We cracked up constantly and talked all the time.
He saw something in me and decided to let me put together my own programs.
Here was someone brilliant who immediately had faith in me. Here was a dreamer pushing me to work harder and making me go see movies, “C’mon already,” he’d say. “This way you’ll know why you’re working.” Ahah, oh but he was so right.
What happened because of this first experience is that I realized that I’m capable of… working. And even loving what I do! I understood that with energy and desire, you learn quickly. I was starting having just a little bit of that faith in myself.
Just enough to tell myself that maybe, maybe, maybe, if I applied myself to the point of delirium, maybe, one day, I could do what I always dreamed of doing: illustration. I never went to art school and I didn’t have a single connection in that world. I didn’t even know if I could draw.
Well really, I knew nothing at all.
I just had the impression that if I didn’t try it, I would always have this regret deep inside of me. I had finally grown up enough to be ready to take some risks. And above all, I knew if it didn’t work out, well, it wouldn’t kill me, you know? I could always work in PR, or be a wind surfing instructor in a nudist colony, voilà.
So I decided to get started. I would become and illustrator.
Translation : Tim Sullivan