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So, you just got laid off, huh?

by Jason Benoit, Esq.

You may have recently seen that Film District is taking over Focus Features. That sound you hear is the uproar of an army of auteurs and Criterion nerds crying afoul from their Landmark Theaters!

But this is the state of the industry we find ourselves in. Goodbye Grand Budapest Hotel, and hello more genre films!

Now, with any corporate upheaval comes the inevitable (and unfortunate) pink slips. Only they don’t actually come in the form of slips anymore. Rather, they arrive in the form of an unsightly human resources drone who looks nothing like Anna Kendrick or George Clooney (hello, Up in the Air anyone? No? Just me?).

But fear not, there is life after being laid off by a major film studio. Take the word of someone who went through this very same thing some years ago by another major studio (thank you MTV Films and Paramount Pictures). So, to soothe you over while you hit the pavement in search of gainful employment again, I present a list of personal do’s and don’ts for your unemployment survival. I’m sure they’ll fit every situation equally as it did mine.

1. Do play lots of Grand Theft Auto. No better way to relieve some angst than by beating up innocent bystanders with sticky bombs and pump-action shotguns.

2. Don’t forget to shower at least once every three days. Spreading out said bathing cycles will save you much Benjamins on your impending water bill that you’ll soon be unable to pay.

3. Do not do #2 if you have a girlfriend. This might be one of the places where you decide to splurge.

4. If you are unemployed for too long, however, you soon won’t have a girlfriend, therefore ignore #3 and revert back to #2.

5. Do take full advantage of Denny’s free breakfast promotion! Even if you have to fight off every high school kid, family of twenty, and smelly homeless guy (which you’ve likely become yourself now. Shrug.) — in hindsight, this one may have only been applicable to me back in 2009. In which case, create a passable fake ID and then hit up every joint in town where you get free stuff on your birthday. Baskin-Robbins? Um, yes I would like a free double dip, thank you very much, don’t care that I’m lactose intolerant, totally worth it.

6. Do start writing that screenplay you’ve always talked about writing, but never had the time or discipline to actually do.

7. Don’t ask me to read it. I’ll refer you to Josh Olson’s “I Will Not Read Your F***ing Script” if you do come asking.

8. Do realize that you may find yourself posted up near highway overpasses with clever signs asking for cash, only to unknowingly soon find yourself in a beggar’s street battle because apparently you’ve pushed in on Shirtless Jesus Guy’s territory.

9. Don’t decide to turn your old suits into “fun-suits” … These being the equivalent of “sexy jhorts.” You’ll soon regret said decision, when upon sending out your 200th resume and finally actually getting a callback for an interview (… at Starbucks. No, you are not too good to be a barista.).

10. Do keep hope. You will come out the other side, less starry-eyed and more realistic. Also, this is a great moment to try all of those BuzzFeed “life cheats” everyone keeps posting on Facebook.

11. Don’t air your former boss’ dirty laundry on Twitter. That shit will come back to bite you in the tush. Why? Because there’s only about 40 people who actually work in Hollywood.

11b. Do write about all of your boss’ dirty laundry in a tell-all book which you conveniently tell everyone is “just a work of fiction.” Mine is called I Hope it Doesn’t Burn When I Pee. You can find it on Amazon.

Hey, Papa’s gotta eat!

12. Do make sure your Facebook profile picture is not of you rocking a stars and stripes banana hammock while playing Edward 40-hands. Apparently that gives off a “creepy” vibe to people … Yeah, creepy hilarious, amirite?!

No, but seriously, we’re coming upon the holidays and the super shitty reality is that most companies downsize in the fourth quarter when the numbers haven’t quite added up. It’s usually on a Friday and it’s quick and very painful. That’s the business we all have decided to work in – unsteady employment for the rest of our lives. This is the time, however, to take a moment and re-evaluate your personal goals. Sometimes being freed from the clutches of corporate overlords can actually be the best thing that has ever happened to you. So, who cares if you have no more insurance and are about to be hit with an ObamaCare penalty? Why? Because you finally have freedom!

And while it might seem easy to move on from Hollywoodland and try something a bit “easier,” I know you won’t because if you’re anything like me, you think being here is a calling, despite the occasional turmoil. That’s called having a passion for something – and it’s that passion that’s going to see you through this and help you climb back up the “corporate” ladder.

Plus, there’s also Chapter 11.

So, to this I say, enjoy your newfound unemployment Hollywood veteran. You’ve earned it after all your late-night conference calls and weekend script reading! It’s all about you now.

13. When in doubt, start back over at step 1 and lather, rinse, repeat!

Jason Benoit, Esq.

About Jason Benoit, Esq.

Jason Benoit is a young screenwriter based in Los Angeles, California. He has developed projects in both film and television with producers around town. He was reared on Cheetos and nightly doses of Tylenol PM and is adamant about attaching the suffix Esquire to his name. We've agreed to humor his request. Follow him on Twitter @jbenoitfilm

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