Saturday, November 25, 2006

Robert Altman Could Write Better Cover Letters

May 22, 2003

Michael LePlae
Human Resources
7436 Tacoma Dr.
Santa Barbara, CA 92323

Dear Michael:

I am writing in response to your listing on for an account services assistant.

As you can see from my resume, I have no prior experience in advertising. Unfortunately, my schedule over the past two decades—I have written, produced and directed several feature films—left little time for me to explore other interests. However, filmmaking is an organic process. You’re constantly picking things up along the way. I think I have picked up several things along the way which I think could make excellent antecedents to a career in advertising.

For instance, I once took a typing class, as preparation for my cameo role in “The Player.” I played a stenographer in the scene where Tim Robbins takes his pants off for Peter Gallagher (totally improvised, by the way). We ended up cutting the scene. I had second thoughts about appearing in the picture. We went a little “cameo crazy” on that one, as I’m sure you remember.

Incidentally, it was my cinematographer Tak Fujimoto who recommended me to Stehman\Diddle\McMickey. I understand he shot several Nissan spots for you last August. While working on my last film, Gosford Park, he couldn’t stop talking about what a great experience he’d had working in commercials. He suggested I contact you about entry-level opportunities. At first I pretended like I wasn’t interested. Why I can’t say. Maybe to save face? I may have made some comment about maintaining artistic integrity, to which Tak just smiled. Then, two takes later, he turned and said, “Hey, Altman. Head down to the corner store. See if your glowing Pauline Kael reviews can buy us a good cup of coffee.” Tak has a brilliant sense of humor. So versatile, too, as a DP. A real collaborator. Anyway, point was taken.

You’ll have to excuse me. I have never been good at writing cover letters. My agent (Lou Ackerman? At CAA?) is constantly hounding me about this. “Too colloquial” is what it usually comes down to. He tore up the last one I showed him, called it “sh*t.” “This will never sell anybody,” he screamed. “Where is your contact information? How can they give you a job if they can’t f**king find you, you vagabond hippy sh*tbag. And what’s with all these contractions! I’ve told you a million times, no f**king contractions in a cover letter!” I hadn’t seen him that mad since I gave Paramount that 4 hour cut of The Gingerbread Man.

Anyway, S\D\M seems to me to be a great opportunity, a chance to be a part of something big, fun and different, and I know I have a lot to offer as a candidate. I hope you can ignore the commercial failure of many of my projects, and accept my interest in the job as a genuine desire to learn and grow.

Thanks for your consideration. Let me say again, I think I would make an excellent assistant. Should you need to contact me, please call JaneƩ, my assistant, at 818-555-7856.


Robert Altman
Enclosure (1)

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