Miércoles 22 de Junio de 2005, Ip nº 114

Never IM in this town again!
Por Cyrus Farivar

In Hollywood, where everyone's a freelancer and career networking veers between art and warfare, a new weapon is emerging as champion: instant messaging.

Movie producers, directors, actors and crew workers bouncing from one job to the next have traditionally relied on agents and Rolodexes for finding their next gigs. But these days, many are discovering it's easier to post their job availability on IM.

Instead of displaying simple "away from my computer" messages, Hollywood buddy lists now overflow with come-ons, from "need work" to "wrapping up shoot." Producers hiring for a new production can tell at a glance who's available now, who's not and who might be free in the near future.

"Ninety percent of my work is given to me through a pop-up (chat window) on my desktop," said Simon Foster, 32, a freelance production coordinator living in Santa Monica, California.

So popular is this new form of recruiting, many say that they've seen an increase in the use of Apple Computer's IM client, iChat AV over the last several months -- at least in the production of television commercials. Hollywood is a Mac town, of course.

They add that many people in their corner of Hollywood are chatting away on a regular basis to hire temporary employees or to find work for themselves.

Foster said he uses these IM status messages two or three times a month to find new work.

"When you see that I put up there that I'm ending my job, that's when I'll get little windows popping up," he said. "Honestly, since iChat's been around, the workload for me has been greater."

David Ferris, an instant message expert and president of Ferris Research in San Francisco, said he hadn't heard of using IM to advertise work status, but liked the idea.

"It's a natural extension," he said.

Ferris said in general, use of instant messaging at work is still small -- less than 10 percent of all business people use IM, roughly 20 million worldwide. But that number is increasing steadily.

Other workers in commercial production said iChat is indispensable for people who hire employees for jobs lasting only a few weeks.

Dina Piscatelli, 37, production manager for Errol Morris, an Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker who also makes television commercials, said that she recently was able to find a travel coordinator through her iChat buddy list. She saw that one of her contacts had a "need work" message listed as her status.

"Usually you have to call them to find out if they're working," she said. "You're almost guaranteed if they're on iChat and it says 'Need work' -- they're going to be available for you."

Piscatelli added that she even uses IM while working on a production set, not just in her office.

"It really is something that you use nonstop," she said. "I have a Sidekick and I'm on instant messenger when I'm not at work. If I'm on location and I'm on-set and I need to talk to somebody, I immediately open my instant messenger. It's quicker than text messaging. It's quicker than e-mail."

However, some note that instant messaging isn't without its pitfalls. Some say it's difficult to communicate fully in a medium limited to text.

"Tone is a big issue in iChat," said Dave Bernstien, 33, a production supervisor in Los Angeles. "If they're quick with you, you don't know what's going on, so you assume the worst. You make up this whole scenario in your head of why they're that way."

Nonetheless, many in Hollywood's commercial production industry say the benefits greatly outweigh the costs.

"I think people would be surprised of what initially began as a device for teenagers to chat with each other has turned into a really professional, efficient application," Foster said.


  13/06/2005. Wired Magazine.