David Lister: Work Experience: The Movie: the start of something big

The Week in Arts
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The Independent Online

Who says work experience doesn't pay off?

Lotte Mullan, who did a period of work experience at both Warner Music and Sony Music record companies and then wrote a blog about it, has had her story snapped up for a book and film deal which could net her nearly £2m. OK, there was a bit more to it than photocopying. Mullan's blog about being an intern in the music industry, the basis for the book and movie, told of "inappropriate touching, awkward sweaty hugs" and "men relieving themselves in bottles next to her." One hopes that the last episode happened in some underpass on her way home and not in the Sony boardroom. But with the music biz you can never be totally sure.

The producer and screenwriter of the film, Nick Moorcroft, described it this week as The Devil Wears Prada meets Bridget Jones's Diary, which doesn't sound like work experience at The Independent.

Mr Moorcroft says: "Her daily entries in her diary are painfully honest, very funny and at times heartbreaking, which has provided us with rich source material for what we hope will be a genuinely funny and uplifting coming-of-age story."

It may be news to the legions of teenagers and twentysomethings on work experience that they are actually in the midst of their own funny and uplifting coming-of-age story. They may not have realised that they are undergoing a rite of passage; but some, I'm sure, will take note of what Lotte Mullan has done, and see a potential for commercial exploitation of their experience on stage, page and screen.

I certainly applaud Ms Mullan's initiative in turning work experience into a film and book. A young musician and performer herself, she obviously saw the potential for transforming the mundane into art, though she says: "I'm overwhelmed. My diary was just something I did as therapy. It's an account of me chasing the dream... The fact that this could be a Hollywood blockbuster is beyond my comprehension."

But it can be more than just a Hollywood blockbuster. The whole range of cultural performance awaits the imaginative intern. Work experience – the opera is just the sort of event to attract those young audiences that opera houses crave. Likewise, work experience – a symphony in four movements, all of them pleasingly eager. And be it comedy or drama, or maybe horror, a TV series on adventures in work experience could be a ratings sensation.

Then there is the stage play. In the style of Samuel Beckett this will be a puzzling and enigmatic parable of waiting for something to turn up, the long hours of boredom and frustration conveyed to the audience in a drama that they find at first stultifying, but then gradually come to realise offers chilling insights into contemporary life and the human condition itself.

Adele, if you've got a lot, you pay a lot

Let's hear it for Adele – to a degree. The hugely successful singer said in an interview this week that her rules for success were to keep herself a little mysterious and keep her performances intimate. She was determined to avoid tweeting and giving large numbers of interviews. Nor would she allow herself or her music to be used to advertise commercial products. And she valued intimate performance too much to play stadium or arena shows. In the age of Lady Gaga these are admirable sentiments.

And then she went and spoiled it all, adding that she resented paying 50 per cent tax, or in her own rhetoric: "Trains are always late, most state schools are shit and I've gotta give you, like, four million quid? Are you having a laugh?" George Harrison wrote rather more wittily in a song on a Beatles' album about paying tax, but they were paying 95 per cent, and even they got precious little sympathy from the public. The failing of all celebrities is an inability to realise that their most devoted fans, let alone the general public, will never sympathise over a high tax bill. If you pay a lot, it means you've got a lot.

Raise the money, then have a good cry

The former Royal Opera House chief executive Michael Kaiser is to host a series of free fundraising masterclasses for arts organisations around the country, at the request of culture minister Ed Vaizey. Mr Kaiser, who ran the Royal Opera House from 1998 to 2001, has a reputation for turning round crisis-hit organisations. But those intending to go to the masterclasses by the American arts guru might want to take a look at his recent autobiography.

In it he recalls of his time at the Royal Opera House: "I cried a lot. It was incredibly tense and my apartment was my only refuge."

So, masterclass attenders, follow the words of the arts guru. Raise those funds, sort out the crises, then go home and have a jolly good cry.