NEW YORK (Reuters) - When Andy Glantzman agreed to be filmed baring his soul about what it was like to lose his job, he didn’t expect millions to see his confession.
But instead of winding up in a documentary as he expected, Glantzman and 21 other fired workers, found themselves with bit parts in the movie “Up in the Air” which last week earned six Oscar nominations, including best film and best director.
The film stars George Clooney as a corporate hatchet man who fires people for a living. It includes cuts of Glantzman and others talking about their real-life experiences.
A year later, many of the 22 recession victims shown in the film have new jobs. Their stories may offer hope to others.
“The movie gave me a reason to get out of the house and put a suit on and feel worthwhile instead of sitting around waiting for my next unemployment check,” Glantzman said in an interview. “It all starts with raising your self esteem.”
Glantzman was fired from a luxury car dealership in Detroit a few weeks before he spotted a newspaper ad asking for people who lost their jobs to send in a letter describing their loss. He was picked to reenact the experience and what he wished he had said to his old employer.
“I found that to be extremely therapeutic. I knew I certainly wasn’t alone,” he said. Four months later he had relocated to Grand Rapids, Michigan and found a job in a charter schools company.
Others in the film said they also felt connected to workers across America who lost their jobs in recession.
“Everyone knows someone who is out of a job,” said LaMorris Conner, who has found work as a restaurant manager. Strangers recognize him from the movie as the guy “who can’t even take my kids to Chuck E. Cheese’s.”
The United States has lost 8.4 million jobs since the start of the recession in December 2007, according to the U.S. Labor Department. A government report last week, showed unemployment fell slightly to a five-month low of 9.7 per cent, but the economy was still shedding jobs.
The amateur actors from “Up in the Air,” said the movie allowed them to retain some self-respect after suffering one of life’s most humiliating experiences.
“Not just part of your professional life is taken away, but also part of your personal life,” said Kevin Pilla, who had just bought a new house and was supporting a wife and four children when he was fired from an electronics company.
Pilla, 39, who after 18 months of joblessness is now employed at a medical billing services company, added: “It’s hard to rediscover yourself.” But, he said, director Jason Reitman gave him an opportunity to do so.
Not all those who pop up in the film have found work, but some are still hopeful.
Marlene Gorkiewicz, who appears in the movie on the verge of tears, is still looking for work after being fired last year after 27 years at a major airline.
Editing by Alan Elsner and Bob Tourtellotte