Chapter 28: Sleeping on the Job

Greetings from Tromaville! Here is Chapter 28 of my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. This chapter addresses some of the more interesting sacrifices you may have to make in the name of your startup!

If you haven’t done so already, you can read the Foreword by Troma co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman, and the Introduction to the book as well as Chapter 12345 and 67, 89, 10, 11, 12, 13, 141516, 17181920212223, 24, 25 and 26. You can also see me read a few chapters live, along with Lloyd and Toxie, at Florida Supercon as well as a few chapters I read on Facebook Live. Stay tuned for additional chapters to be published here. If you like what you read and can’t wait for more, please don’t be shy. You can buy the book now on Amazon (and also please don’t be shy about sharing, and reviewing the book when you do read it.) Both Toxie and I greatly appreciate your support! – Jeff Sass

Chapter 28: Sleeping on the Job

By the time I joined the Troma Team, I already had a long history with the American Film Market. Satori had been one of the “founding members” when the AMFA (American Film Marketing Association) was formed in 1981, and I had attended every AFM from its inception before I started attending on behalf of Troma. As the name implies, the American Film Market is an annual conference in Los Angeles, where mostly independent film producers and distributors from all over the world gathered to hawk their celluloid wares and find distribution and dollars from territories around the globe.

Given its LA locale, the early days of the AFM were glitzy and glamorous and attracted foreign film buyers (as well as buyers of foreign films) who wanted to get a firsthand taste of Hollywood. The event would be held at hotels such as the Century Plaza back when it truly was one of the premier hotels in town. There were parties, and celebrities and red carpets, and…Troma!

A section of the hotel served as the market offices. For several floors, the beds had been removed from the hotel rooms so they could serve as offices for each participating seller to hold meetings and pitch their movies. The bedless suites were loaded with VCR machines and TVs to screen films, and their walls were lined with posters and displays for the movies being offered. The buyers would walk up and down the hallways, going in and out of the temporary offices to see what films they might be interested in licensing for distribution.

Troma had one of the offices (which, as noted in the previous chapter, was almost set aflame by a mogul’s cigar.) There were strict rules at AFM and the “office suites” had to be empty by a certain time each night, and the office floors were closed until the next day. The proper guest rooms in the Century Plaza were expensive and, being Troma, we couldn’t afford to put up everyone in such fine digs. That said, I didn’t want to schlepp back and forth through LA traffic each day to stay at a cheap hotel. I volunteered to sleep in the bedless office room (even though it was expressly against the rules).

So, the first night I snuck back onto the office floors and made my way to our suite, and went to bed on the couch, fully dressed, just in case. In the middle of the night, the door to the room opened. It was security.

“Sir? You’re not supposed to be here.”

Me, startled but thinking fast. “Oh my, I must have fallen asleep! I came back here after dinner to get something I forgot, and I must have fallen asleep. So sorry. Just give me a few minutes, and I’ll be on my way.”

“Ok. But I’ll be checking back in a few minutes, so you need to leave
this floor.”

“Yes, sir. Of course, sir…”

Alone again, I pondered my predicament. I had nowhere to go, and it was almost 3:00 a.m. Then the proverbial light bulb went off above my head. The wall behind the couch had floor-to-ceiling poster displays we had put up to decorate the suite and turn it into a mini Tromaville displaying our movies. I pulled the couch away a few inches and then pulled the poster displays up against the back of the couch. This created a gap between the posters and the wall that was just wide enough for me to slide behind. And slide behind I did. Lying on the floor behind the posters, invisible, I waited. Sure enough, soon the door to the room opened and I could hear the security guard step into the room and turn on the light to see that I was no longer there (as far as he could tell). He shut the lights and left. I held my breath a moment or two longer, and then exhaled with relief and fell asleep. The next morning, I made sure I was up early and showered and changed and out the door for breakfast long before the morning cleaning crew would come through.

And that’s how it went, every night. I’d sneak back into the room and squeeze into my little cave behind the poster displays and hope and pray I wasn’t snoring when the security guard made his rounds in the middle of the night. And you thought the movie industry was glamorous! Hey, if George Costanza can sleep under his desk I can certainly catch some zzzs hiding behind the couch in a bedless hotel suite. It’s all good.

The truth is, when you’re a start-up and operating on limited resources, you have to get creative and be willing to do things “the big guys” might not consider. For me, aside from adding a bit of intrigue and adventure to my trip, sleeping surreptitiously in the suite saved the company money and me time. I was happy to be taking one for the Troma Team.

Would you make a similar sacrifice for your team? Have you ever put up with unusual conditions just to get the job done?

•••

That’s Chapter 28  –  In business, especially in a startup, you may have to be willing to do some crazy things to move your business forward…including sleeping on the job! Stay tuned for Chapter 29: “Raising Your Hand” which addresses stepping up to take on new opportunities, whether you are qualified or not…

The book in previous posts:

Foreword, by Lloyd Kaufman
Introduction: Lights, Camera, Action!
Chapter 1: Welcome to Tromaville!
Chapter 2: The Troma Building
Chapter 3: Meet the Moguls
Chapter 4: Trailer Trash
Chapters 5 and 6: Working FREE-lance & Becoming a Full-time Tromite
Chapter 7: Branding Begins on the Ground Floor
Chapter 8: The Power of We
Chapter 9: Old Yeller (and Be Your Brand)
Chapter 10: Find Something to Believe In
Chapter 11: Show Up!
Chapter 12: Sink or Swim!
Chapter 13: Embrace your Vision and Culture!
Chapter 14: Strategic Partners – Burn Houses, Not Bridges
Chapter 15: If You Don’t Want to Swallow a Frog, Start with a Stunt
Chapter 16: Repurpose, On Purpose!
Chapter 17: Always Salute the Schwag!
Chapter 18: Playing by the Rules
Chapter 19: Fix it, or Forget it… Fast!
Chapter 20: This Means WAR!
Chapter 21: Delegate or Die!
Chapter 22: Location, Location, Location
Chapter 23: Everyone is Expendable (Especially if you Wear a Mask!)
Chapter 24: Be Open to the Unexpected
Chapter 25: Influencing the Influencers
Chapter 26: Yes, we Cannes!
Chapter 27: Putting Out Fires (Literally!)

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