From Afar: Hollywood’s Not that Hollyweird


Charlie Nadler grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and graduated from MVRHS with the class of 2002. He lives in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles where he works in the film and television industry and regularly performs stand up comedy.  In the twice-monthly “From Afar” column, Charlie will muse about the Island from his perch in LA.

Tinseltown and Tisbury are more similar than you might think.

During seven plus years in Los Angeles I’ve worked on movie sets, in writers rooms, and at production companies. The jobs are short-lived. At least the weather is warm. But it would be a lot more enjoyable if traffic and parking weren’t so terrible.

Sound familiar?

This grind reminds me a lot of summers on the Vineyard where my mélange of employment included crunching bakery registers, teaching tykes tennis, and slanging bags of books. Like my experience in show business, I got all of these jobs not so much from a resume but a high quality referral. I knew Islanders who knew Islanders. The book gig was the shoo-est of shoo-ins: my mom owned the store.

Entertainment executives operate in a similar manner to many Vineyard employers. Crewing up for a movie is not unlike building a house. We value each other’s stories, perspectives, and experiences more highly than a pile of applications.

Film school and family enabled me to initially break into the entertainment industry (education plus nepotism is a wonderful combination!), but it’s my Martha’s Vineyard roots that primed me for a long-term career. Growing up in our seasonal environment instilled me with a competitive work ethic. I learned how integral it is to be flexible, think outside the box, and strike while the iron is hot.

This employment pressure is identical to show business. Time is money and superiors are perpetually impatient. Nine out of ten of my bosses have been “August people”. But I have to pay the bills, and August people have a knack for gatekeeping the money for said bills.

It’s easy to complain, but I force myself to stand back and remember how exciting it is to be where I am, doing what I’m doing. I always try to appreciate my surroundings. It’s a rare silver lining that Hollywood and the Vineyard share: the scenery heals the adversity.

While Hollywood doesn’t have our short “season”, showbiz jobs often have similar shelf lives. Movies wrap. Series get canceled. Sometimes you outgrow your gopher costume and you do the canning.

The ebb and flow of work-life balance in film and television resembles patterns of Vineyard employment. Many Islanders diligently build a nest egg in the summer so they can do something completely different in the winter. I spent almost half a decade locked to a desk, saving up so I could be unemployed full-time to pursue several creative endeavors.

That lasted an entire year. It was amazing. I have zero regrets. I made progress. But now it’s time to dust off those referrals and pay some more inescapable dues.

I’ll see if the guy who replaced me at my last job at Castle Rock Entertainment has heard of anything promising. He’s a good friend.

His name is Simon Goldberg. He’s from West Tisbury.