Friday, October 30, 2009

London 16A: Day 13 & 14 - Drinks & Airplanes (settling for less)

The morning after... and I feel fine. I go to the British Museum Starbucks to check my e-mail and get the blood-caffeine level up to Level Orange, then walk down to the Raindance office to talk to Elliot. Kind of dreading it. As much as I talk about conflict in scripts, I *hate* conflict in real life. I’d rather just avoid it. When I get to the office, I cool my heels for a while waiting for Elliot to finish what he’s doing, then he insist on taking me to a local café. Great - a public place. This is not looking good.

At the coffee shop, we have this innocuous conversation that seems to waltz around what he thinks he owes me and what I think he owes me. We talk about how much he wants me to come back next year and I mention how small the class is and how it would be nice to have some advertizing... or at least for them to tell me there will be no advertizing so that I can take care of that myself. I also mention that I think the 5 (FIVE!) Free classes undercut the weekend class - when a waiter serves you 5 trays of free hors d’oeuvres, then asks what you’d like to order for dinner, you probably have already had enough to eat. I bring up all of my problems politely... even timidly... trying not to create much conflict. Elliot says that preparing for the film festival, and all of the problems along the way this year (sponsors dropping out, cinema chains dropping out, etc) turned my class into less than a footnote - and he apologized for that. He wants me to come back next year at some time other than the fest to do my class... and we talk about some ways to insure a larger turn out. We also talk about some sort of deal where I would license my CDs for him to sell in the UK and give me a royalty. Seems he’s already done a test run and sold them., and he owes me $100. We leave the café so that he can show me a place that manufactures CDs for bands - and I keep thinking I haven’t pushed hard enough and we haven’t discussed payment at all.

We look at the CD stuff, swell, and I hint that I’d like to look over the numbers and see what is owed me. And Elliot says, “Of course” and we go back to the office... where we began. I am now ready to push hard to get my money - to argue and fight... but Elliot doesn’t need to be pushed. He apologizes again for the small turnout, and has one of the staff run up the numbers (without me seeing them).

Now, Elliot has told me that a majority of the class came in at half off - the made that deal to film fest pass holders... and just about anyone who would ask. I have done the math for 50% of the class price times the number of students... and I need most of that just to end up with *half* of what they usually pay me. And that’s my number - half of what they usually pay me. Usually there are 50 people in the class, this time... um, less than a third of that. So I may have to fight for my number, because it may leave them with nothing. The staff member totals what they’ve been paid, subtracts taxes, subtracts the room rate, and gives the page to Elliot... who says my exact number. Plus the $100 for the CDs they made and sold. I say, “Deal” and they pay me. Oh, and I find the envelope from the CD sales - $40 - and note that there are about 6 CDs left, and I say they can keep ‘em and sell ‘em.

We talk some more about the CD thing and ways to increase the class size and then I thank Elliot and the entire Raindance staff for a great festival and for helping me sell the CDs and have a great time at the fest. In all honesty, had the deal been teach 5 free classes and get to attend the film festival, I would have been happy. I had a great time and got to see a whole bunch of movies for free.

On the way out, I notice the piece of paper with the numbers... and realized Elliot had split the profits with me! Most people had paid full price, and even with the poor turn out, Raindance had made money off the class! Real, tangible money!

So, the Elliot part of this story had a happy ending. Not a great ending, because I only got paid half of what I usually get, but Elliot paid me what he agreed to pay me without any real problem. I think in retrospect, all of the evasiveness was due to him feeling bad that my class had fallen through the cracks while planning the film festival.

Before I leave they mention that they have a taxi that will take me to the airport tomorrow morning - it’s picking up a film maker and I’m on the way, so I have a free trip to the airport and don’t have to get up early and take the tube... except in order to pick up the filmmaker and to allow for traffic, the taxi will pick me up at 6:30am. Swell.

Because by now it’s close to dinner time, and I’m near that great fish & chips place on Poland Street, I decide to go there again. Once more, great food and great service. Not some little pieces of fish, this was like a huge whole fish! A giant serving of fries. And the homemade tartar sauce was great a second time. Once I’d finished dinner I had to get to a Starbucks to check e-mail and put up a blog entry. Mostly to check e-mail, because some stranger might be coming tonioght and have questions. Though I did a search on pubs near Holborn Tube Station and found one that got great marks that we had not been to in the past, and listed it on the blog, I had also mentioned in that blog entry that I would add more details later... and never got around to it. Though the meeting location and drinking location and time were not going to change, someone might e-mail to ask if it was still on. I needed to answer e-mails...

Except after buying my coffee (no milk!) I discovered the BT Online at this Starbucks was not working. Hey, there’s a Starbucks every other block in London, so I carried my drink to the next Starbucks. BT Online also not working here. After trying a half dozen Starbucks, it was obvious that the system was down... and obvious that I had better run back to the hotel to do a quick packing job before I jogged over to the Holborn Tube Station to drink with friends and strangers.

In my hotel room I do a quick pack - but run out of time and some things will have to be packed when I come back that night. Off to Holborn.

- Bill

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