by Dennis Daniel
Do you have an office? One of the greatest things that ever happened to me was the day WBAB gave me my own office back in 1988 after 7 years of being out on the sales floor with the rest of the riff raff. Writing spots was a real chore out there with all the noise and distractions! I often counted myself lucky that, if need be, I could always bring my typewriter into the studio and close the door for some quiet and privacy. Having my own office gave me a real sense of prestige and importance. I know for lots of folks that really doesn't matter...but it did to me.
The environment in which I write has a direct effect on my work. I like to surround myself with all kinds of "chatchkas" that are a reflection of my personality. When people enter my office, I want them to think "this guy is cool." Yeah, I know; it seems morally hollow of me to care so much about the opinions of others, but, to be honest, when it comes to my office, I do care. First impressions are made when a stranger walks into your office. They can't help but make observations about your personality from what they see on your wall and desk. Everything from mounds of papers and clutter to anal retentive neatness is a warning sign to people about "who you are." ("Jeez, this guy is a slob!" or "Man, is this dude overworked!" or "Wow, look at all the cool toys!")
I've found that a cool office that reflects your personality can be a great ice breaker. Whenever people were given a tour of the station, it always seemed like the highlight was "...and check out our creatively nutty production guy's digs! What a nut, huh?" This works especially well with potential new clients who, in the end, have to trust your creativity for their business. I have, since then, always tried to have a cool office "world." For the past 11 months here at One On One Productions, my office was also where the studio was. This was due to a lack of available space in the agency. I was surrounded by equipment and soundproofing, not to mention supplies and shelves full of DATs, reels, and filing. I didn't mind it because it was MY equipment and MY business. It did, however, get a bit tight in there once in a while, especially when several people were in there to produce, dub, voice, whatever. Worst of all, I had practically zero room on the walls! The best I could do was hang one framed poster from Les Miserables and some award certificates. This killed me because I have so much stuff! It all ended up in a closet at home. Bummer!
Recently, a huge office became available here at the agency, and, joy of all joys, they gave it to me! I couldn't believe it! This place is jigundo with two spacious windows! It's the largest, most prestigious office I've ever had! It's so big, it has TWO desks! One for my computer, and one to just sit behind and look important. I even have a couch and a coffee table! I thought it might be fun to let you know the kinds of things I surround myself with to inspire me. After all, anything that can help you "feed the monster" has got to be a good thing. And, if you don't have an office, you can show this column to someone in upper management who might get something out of my "surroundings" logic.
As you enter the office, directly to the right is a table with my Mac, a few file bins, and some little toys on a desk--a small Godzilla; a small Dennis the Menace figure and his dog, Ruff; two Micro-Mini Machines of the Millennium Falcon and the Imperial Battlecruiser from Star Wars; a small prison cell with five skulls on top of it with a sign that says "Beware;" and a train from the show "Shining Time Station" named "Diesel." Directly above my head are two framed posters. One is of Jack Nicholson as "The Joker" with the phrase "wait till they get a load of me!" under it. The other is the recent poster for Batman Forever. To the right of that desk is a book shelf filled with models of Bela Lugosi as Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, The Mummy, The Creature From The Black Lagoon, The Wolf Man, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Phantom of the Opera, two Japanese Godzilla toys, and a huge model of Gary Oldman as the batcreature from Bram Stoker's Dracula. Interspersed with the models are my awards (considering last month's column, do you see why I put them with "horror" characters?). Above the book shelf is a really neat mirror featuring The Beatles from the Rubber Soul album cover. (My favorite!)
The wall in front of my desk has three framed movie posters: Aguirre, The Wrath Of God (I'm a huge Werner Herzog/Klaus Kinski fan!), Star Trek Generations (Yes, I'm one of THOSE people, although my geekdom is far less than others I know), and Natural Born Killers. The wall to the right of that has the Warner Brothers Mel Blanc 1908-1989 tribute "Speechless" print, with Bugs and the gang, heads bowed in mourning, standing in front of a spotlight shining on a microphone on a stand. Behind my desk are two movie posters, one from The Mask, the other from Nosferatu, The Vampyre (Herzog and Kinski version).
My desk is covered with all kinds of crap! A model of Vlad the Impaler, a model of the Martian creature from Invasion From Mars. a Wile E. Coyote bank that has him clinging to a rocket in mid-flight, two Marvin Martian toys (one that talks!), and a model of Daffy Duck, dressed in a suit, screaming into a portable phone with a suitcase overflowing with paperwork. The caption says "Workaholic." There's a marble golden delicious apple paperweight, Chinese meditation chim balls, R2-D2, a microphone that records your voice when you press a button and plays it back every time you lift it, a tiny Foghorn Leghorn and chicken hawk, and a tiny Rolls Royce with Yosemite Sam driving and Bugs as a passenger.
Behind my desk is a small wooden file cabinet with photos of my family on it, as well as a lamp and a Foghorn Leghorn dog chew toy (unused) and a cool mountain view paperweight. Above that, on the wall, is a face model of The Creature, mounted like a stuffed fish would be.
Movies + cartoons + horror + science fiction + broadcasting + The Beatles = Dennis Daniel.
I'd love to know the kinds of things you surround yourself with for inspiration! What do they mean to you and how do they get your juices flowing? Write, fax or E-Mail me any time. If I get enough strange, cool stuff we'll talk about it in a future column. Thanks for indulging me with my little tour! It was fun sharing it with you.