What was your first job in the film industry?
In this Writers Spotlight interview, Showrunner Dean Batali, talks about his first jobs from Universal Studios to the classic Hollywood mailroom job.
Dean is known for his work on That 70’s show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, & Good Witch.
Transcript has been slightly edited for clarity.
Anthony Cantu Tell me about your first job in the industry
Dean Batali My first job in Hollywood was in the mail room. Actually that’s not true. My first job in Hollywood was at the Universal Studio central vault. I went there to apply to be a tour guide and they said well you’re overqualified to do this but you can make more money if you sit in the vault all night and count money. And there’s a room in the center of Universal Studios. I can’t tell you where it is but if we ever wanted to rob Universal Studios, I know exactly where it is.
Anthony Cantu (Laughs) This sounds like a script
Dean Batali It sounds like a script already.
Dean Batali One of my jobs was to ride around in a little cart with a security guard and every safe in every restaurant and every store takes two keys and I had one of the keys and the manager had a key. So if we really want to rob all the safes I know where those are. Okay so that was the first job I got like a month since being down here and I just thought well at least I’m going onto a studio a lot every day.
Anthony Cantu Absolutely!
Dean Batali But I often say my first job was in mailroom because that’s really my first Hollywood job. I was actually interacting with Hollywood people. I was in the mailroom at what was it then? Uh it was then MTM Studios. It’s now CBS Studio Center in Studio City and these were in the days when you could just drive your resume around town and my wife and I dropped our resumes all over the place.
Dean Batali I had done some work in the mailroom in college so I actually had mailroom on my resume which helped to get me in that door. My wife did too. She had worked as a manager at a Hallmark shop in like a postal station and they actually called her asking if she wanted the job. She had just been hired as an assistant to somebody in distribution but she said well my husband also has mailroom experience. And so they said, “fine send over his resume or have him call tomorrow” and I got that job.
Dean Batali So that story is a wonderful story that only proves that in Hollywood it’s who you sleep with that matters and you have to sleep with my wife in order to get a job. Right? So it’s a little problematic to tell that story but yeah I started out in the mailroom.
Anthony Cantu I just love that you had mailroom experience already, because that’s the job you get when you have no experience in this town.
Dean Batali Isn’t it weird? Yeah and I was able to get it in. You know I hear like the CAA mailroom is full of Harvard grads and all these entertainment lawyer types and I was able to just kind of sneak in with my liberal arts musical theater degree because I worked in my college mailroom. Doing it was actually a work study kind of stuff you know parks, scholarship stuff getting in there. So it just kind of all led to that.
Anthony Cantu That’s brilliant. Yeah I love that!