#WFH Diaries: Andrew Levene of Stink Films
As coronavirus lockdowns persist, Muse is checking in with creative people to see how they're doing. Below, we catch up with Andrew Levene of Stink Films.
Give us a one-line bio of yourself.
I'm Andrew Levene, managing director at Stink Films London, father of two (three if you count the dog).
Where are you living right now, and who's with you?
North West London, in my house with my wife, 13-year-old son, 10-year-old daughter and Miniature Schnauzer.
What's your work situation like at the moment?
Weird. On the kitchen table next to my wife and across from the kids (when they're working). On the one hand, it's MUCH quieter than my office. But when there is noise, it's bickering kids or both my wife and I on conference calls/Zoom meetings at the same time. And the dog is VERY needy (as you'll see in the picture).
Describe your socializing strategy.
My wife is very much the social organizer in our relationship. If she wasn't making plans, I'd never see anyone. But now, I'm actually calling friends and talking to them far more than I ever did before. Last night we did a six-couple quiz, and we're discussing how we do online karaoke next!
How are you dealing with childcare, if applicable?
Everyone's talking about home schooling. We're not. We aren't teachers. We're working parents trying to make our kids do some work. I think I'm actually lucky. They're (reasonably) good, and do probably 2 hours in the morning and 1 hour in the afternoon. It's enough, and it keeps my son from being on the PlayStation 24/7.
What are you reading?
Actually, I'm not. My main reading time was the train to/from work … all of a sudden that's gone. I'm halfway through two books … Rosewater Redemption (the third in a sci-fi series set in Nigeria) and Invisible Women (all about data bias). I should probably find some time each day to run away from the family and read — or I could get them to pop in every now and again to stand on my feet or push past me for the authentic reading-on-a-train experience.
What are you watching?
Trying to avoid watching the news. We watch the daily government briefing (that's when you know you're allowed to start drinking), but the news is too depressing and sensationalistic. About to start the third season of Marvelous Mrs Maisel, and the second season of Altered Carbon—but we've started seriously low-brow with Love Is Blind—and now that's not even a secret guilty pleasure any more.
What are you listening to?
Again, trying to avoid the news, but we've got the radio on most of the time, just for a bit of background noise. Heart seems to be the only station we can all compromise on as a family! I've also been doing a lot of singing along to Hamilton during our big weekly house-cleans.
How are you staying fit?
Trying to get back into running while we're still allowed out. My 13 year-old is very sporty, so he's been finding it very hard, so now he's coming with me. A few kilometers round the park next door a few times a week isn't too bad. Having a dog helps to. Walking her is a joy, just to get out of the house and get some fresh air.
Have you taken up a hobby?
Does actively holding myself back from throttling my kids count as a hobby?
Any tips for getting necessities?
We've been discovering all sorts of services that are delivering food. Various supermarkets doing "Necessity Boxes" filled with a mixture of fruit, veg, some tins, some pasta etc. The local kosher butcher is taking orders, letting you pay over the phone, and basically having it sitting by the door when you walk in.
An awkward moment since all this started.
My son asking about ejaculation for his science homework (in front of my 10-year-old daughter) is right up there.
Best work email you got since all this started.
Not a work email, but one of my freelance producers used to do a daily quiz question when he was in the office, so every day at 2 p.m. about 30 of us congregate on Whatsapp, have a giggle and hurl abuse at each other for stupid answers to some very unexpected and irreverent questions. It's a real moment of joy every day.
An aha! moment since all this started.
That as much as we all moan sometimes about our offices, our co-workers, our jobs etc., I can't tell you how much I miss being in my office with the team, seeing their faces, the moments between working when we just chat, sitting at lunch together. I don't think it's any surprise that in production we can work from home fairly easy, it's how much I miss being in the office that has surprised me most.
What's your theory on how this is going to play out?
I'm lucky to be at an international production company, with offices open for business in various locations, so I feel like I can see a way forwards. I just hope it happens sooner rather than later. I do worry that it'll be a long while before I get to see my mid-70s parents in the flesh again, though.