Ah, film life. The crazy, intense, non-stop ride of work, eat, and sleep.
It’s a love/hate relationship. Do I love film more than I love sleep? More than food? Ok, that last one’s a definite yes. Apparently I’m in the minority though.
So with all the love I have for film, there has to be something I hate about it. Right? I discovered it’s actually hard to find a thing I hate. Whenever I think of something I hate about film, I realize that I actually love it at the same time.
As a result I have searched my soul and found 5 things I hate, yet love, about film.
1) Very Early Mornings
Yes, very early mornings. Who in their right mind wants to get up at 3 am to drive for an hour through the country roads with the sunrise to get to location?
When that alarm clock goes off I groan and fight the desire to stay asleep. Every time I ask myself why I’m doing this to myself.
Then I say “You’re making a movie. Making a movie is awesome!” and my body rolls out of bed hyped to get on set.
It’s pitch black outside. My co-workers are pounding back the coffee like they won’t get any more for the rest of their lives. We all pile into the bus and pretty much everyone goes back to sleep. I sit beside the driver and watch the scenery and the sun rise over the hills.
Sometimes we chat about life and random things. I actually get to know the driver better than I did before. As a result, I have built onto our friendship.
Once we get to set we start to get really going and I remember that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Oh, paperwork. The constant deluge of cast and crew applications, emails, contracts, grant and funding applications forms to fill out. All needing, or giving out, the same information. It keeps me trapped at the desk. I get antsy sitting there. I get bored of the same information all the time and repeating that information again and again.
I know it has to get done and when it does things happen. Funding comes in. Props, locations, and actors are secured. You create a framework of all the things that you need for your film.
Without it films do not get made. Without it we don’t get to be on set, and set is where I love to be. Right in the action.
Yes, I have trouble with the networking. I have social anxiety and am an introvert. The thought of being in a crowd freaks me out. So why am I working in an industry that relies on relationships with people?
Because I really like people’s stories and I like to hear them. The more people you meet and build relationships with, the more cool stories you hear, the more cool people you become friends with, and the more people you trust to work with.
You meet all sorts of people. Writers, actors, producers. All the people who have the same passion as you, storytelling. Everyone needs friends and co-workers they know and trust.
4) The Pressure
Jobs need to be done and they need to be done 5 minutes ago. Sometimes it is 10 things that needed to be done 5 minutes ago. I have been given deadlines. People are waiting on me to do my task by the deadline.
If I don’t get it done the entire production can suffer, which means 30+ people are affected by my failure to meet the deadline.
It’s a lot of pressure. There are no excuses to get the task done. Circumstances come into my path and I have to think “What do I have to do to make it happen in spite of this?”
Then I do it. I commit to the job and process 100%. I find that way, even if I break down and cry, and get it done. I grow in the process and realize I am capable of so much more than I thought I was, even in stressful moments when it seems there is no way out.
This brings me to my last point…
5) No Certainty
Film is a very fluid thing. Any little thing can change the plans, the schedule. There is no certainty in film. Not even job security. It can drive a person crazy not knowing until sometimes the last minute.
Jumping full in and dealing with the big and little crises every day. Losing locations at the last minute, finding the replacement, changing the schedule, letting everyone know, losing the light and rescheduling.
You never know what is going to happen. That is what makes film so great.
You do your job as best as you can and run with it if and when chaos ensues. Everyone does their job and it flows together in a weird symbiotic relationship that just works even when it doesn’t seem like it will.
I love the change, I love the challenge of it. Even when I hate it.
I may be doing the same job every day in film, but at the same time it’s always different. Different scenes, different set ups, different locations even.
So I have no guaranteed job now, no steady pay. I have to constantly apply for work on films and I’m ok with that.
That is what makes film so great.
These things can get you down and make you hate your job. The thing that differs from regular jobs is do you have the passion for what you are doing? Does it drive you to overcome the uncomfortable and keep pushing through to make something awesome in the end?
For me, the answers to those questions are a resounding yes. There is nothing that I would rather do than make movies, even dealing with the things that I think I hate.