Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Shift: The Call Center Culture Movie

Way back then, I belong to the call center industry. At the time when the aggressive growth of the BPO industry in the country was starting, I was an agent working to help finish off the last few months of college. To say that people in the call center behave differently than those who work in the regular office hours is an understatement. There is a different culture of Filipinos out there, and Shift is the first movie I've seen that "somehow" showed some light to the lives of individuals working in the BPO sector.

The film centers at Estela (Yeng Constantino), a no-boyfriend-since-birth girl working in a call center and Trevor (Felix Roco), a gay senior agent on Estela's team brought closer together because of a mentoring program initiated by their team leader. It is still a story of love, and how the plot ended, its up to you to find out when you watch the movie. But as a teaser of how the story went, imagine a love caught between gender orientation and preferences.

In the night shift industry, everything is different. There's no rush hour, everyone's going home when you're going to work or they're going to work when you're going home and there's a lot of taxi cabs around. You hang out only in 3 places, coffee shops, convenience stores and the few restobars that open 24 hours. Your English begins to have an accent other than the Pinoy tone. The only people you can socialize with are your call center friends who work close to your shift or the people who don't have any work. Rest days can change, schedules can shift, sometimes even job security isn't guaranteed. It is a totally different way of life, and a totally different culture.

When one is part of the call center industry, you would know how to eat in 10-15 minutes so you can sleep 30-45 minutes. They are familiar with the feel of headsets worn for several hours or the dread of the word "queuing." Most are always looking out for internal job postings in the hope moving out of the agent status, and some jump from one center to another. Given the stressful, fast-paced, metrics driven, volatile and almost monotonous environment, employment and relationships rise and fall here rather very quickly. That is why team buildings are common and employment incentives are close to extravagant.

Almost everything in the film mirrors what happen in real life. The calls, the breaks, the interaction between call center employees, it was almost like a documentary with a love story and a running plot because of its detail accuracy. It was light, with a bit of humor and the fascination that it was Yeng Constantino's debut movie. Also, its the first film I've seen popping the screen of the character's phone and social media messages.

Overall, it was a great job for the director Siege Ledesma and his team. Clean shots, great cinematography and cool locations. The premiere was jam packed, all seats sold out and the film had good acceptance. If you're part of the call center industry in the Philippines, its something that you can relate to. If you're not, then its a closer look to what the call center culture is about, plus you see Yeng act for the first time in the movies. Here's the trailer of the movie:

And here are the remaining screening schedules: