How My Entire Life Changed in the Course of One Year

How My Entire Life Changed in the Course of One Year

I signed up for the Friends in Film program one year ago this month. When I joined, I had no idea just how much (and how quickly) my life was about to change.

It did take about six months to actually get my first production assistant gig. And while I was impatient and frustrated that I was not finding any work,  looking back I can see that I needed that time to work on myself. I took acting classes, had my first big role in a musical and my second big role in a play, worked as background on a couple films, networked at film festivals, and worked through the Friends in Film training to learn how to be the kind of production assistant that keeps getting recommended/hired for jobs.

Once I worked my first film set, the gigs just kept coming. And, before I knew it, I was finding paid PA gigs. At this point, I have six gigs under my belt (almost all of which I’ve also been able to either act in or be background in in addition to PA), one lined up for the end of the month, and two potential gigs pending. I have also made gains in my other creative ventures: I have found a publisher who seems interested in my woodwind books and have an upcoming interview with a talent agency.

A year ago, I felt miserable and stuck. I was an actor and a writer who had no idea how to make her dreams come true. I took a chance on that program and it made all the difference. I can see a path towards those dreams of mine and they finally, actually feel within reach for me. I feel like I have found the place where I belong. This might sound cheesy, but when I’m on a film set, I feel at home. Everyone I’ve worked with has been just so awesome. No matter how long the shoot day is or how much grunt work I have to do on a set, I just feel so happy and lucky to be there (I voluntarily, happily did dishes the other day on set. This is not a chore I normally enjoy). It is the best feeling. Those 12+ hour days just fly by and I’m always so excited to wake up and do it all over again the next day.

I’ve changed too. I have an easier time talking to and joking with new people on set. I’m much happier and more confident in myself. I’ve had to face a lot of my fears to make this career work and I’m a much better person for it.

A couple things I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Your life can change for the better fairly quickly, but YOU have to put in the work to make that happen. It’s not going to magically change on its own. I always had the “it will happen someday” mentality that made me put off the things I wanted, but it will not happen someday if you stay stuck in that mentality and do nothing about it.
  2. You aren’t always going to feel like doing it. If it is something that you know will bring you closer to your goals and dreams, do it anyway. Just showing up is half the battle. I definitely still wake up on the first day of shoots feeling like I would rather stay home and sleep, but I know that won’t do me any good. If I let my anxiety about driving in big cities and meeting new people keep me from getting to set, I would have missed out on so many great opportunities and would not have met all of the awesome people I’ve been working with. I’ve found that the more I face my fears and anxieties the easier it gets to do the things that once held me back.
  3. Listen to your gut. The price of the Friends in Film program was daunting, but I really felt like it was something I had to sign up for. It has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I don’t always understand why I feel like I should do things, but I am definitely glad when I follow my instincts. My interview for a job with a talent agency lead to a second interview for possible representation with them. I almost turned down the first interview completely. Just last night I was not feeling up for going to a film festival, but something told me I should go and I got introduced to some of the big, local film people as a result.
  4. Don’t give up. It’s not always fun or easy to make your dreams come true. But it is so, so worth striving for. I am definitely much happier when I’m working towards my dreams than when I’m doing nothing about them.

If you’re feeling stuck or miserable like I was, take that first step towards the change you want to make in your life. Even if it’s not necessarily the right step, eventually it will help you find your way to where you are meant to be. I tried a ton of different things before I figured out I needed to be in film, and looking back I’ve discovered that it was pursuing my various interests that helped me realize exactly what my dreams are and lead me to the place where I could make those dreams come true.

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2 thoughts on “How My Entire Life Changed in the Course of One Year”

  • Hi Melissa,
    Thanks so much for sharing your story, hope you don’t mind me reaching out. I wanted to ask for your further opinion on the FIF training as it’s something I’ve been looking at since I think you signed up last year! It’s obviously very expensive and as I do currently sort of work in the industry I just can’t decide whether it’s worth it or indeed whether the plan works at all! Like you may have mentioned on your earlier post, I’m just sceptical it’s all a big scam really! And as for my aforementioned work – so I currently work in London mostly as a Video Editor in the fashion industry. A lot of online stuff. My actual aim though is to be a director. That’s what I’d be looking for in the course; to get from where I am, to where I want to be, directing film and tv content. I’ve got a solid 3/4 years experience under my belt as a PA/camera assistant on things like music videos, small commercials or web ads as well as my editing work, but nothing to get me on the path to directing. From what you’ve seen of the course do you think it would work for me? Or will it just mostly tell me what I already know? I realise these are difficult questions to answer but just what you think would be a massive help for me getting off the fence!

    Anyway thanks loads for taking the time to read this, best of luck with your own career sounds like it’s going really well!!


    • Hey Ryan! Thank you for reaching out!

      From my own experience, the program is definitely not a scam. In less than a year, I went from no film experience or connections to working as a basecamp PA for an A24 film. I still have my survival job, but lately I spend more time working on film sets than I do at that job. I think what I love most about the program is that Janet gives very practical advice for achieving your film goals. It’s like, oh, I can actually do this stuff! I can see a path to my dreams that I did not know about before.

      She doesn’t make any promises. It’s not a get rich quick scheme or anything. She is very clear about the fact that your results are based solely on how much effort you put in yourself.

      I believe there are other people in the program who are like you and have some experience already. Part of the training includes how to move from PA to your dream position (including being a director). So since you are looking for a path like that, I do feel like it could help you.

      What I would recommend is signing up for the free training Janet offers first. I think you can reach out to her either during or after that and ask her what she thinks as well. I will also talk to the other people in the program and see if there’s anyone who was in a similar place that you are and see what their experience has been. Maybe follow FIF on Instagram too. They always post about the people in the program and are very responsive to people that comment on their videos/photos.

      Also, I think I had the option to try the paid program for a week and get a full refund if I did not feel like it was for me. So that may be another option for you. You could sign up, talk to others in the program and see what they think about your situation, and decide from there if you think it would be a good fit for you.

      Hope my rambling helps, lol. It really is a great program. I have been recommending it to everyone that tells me they’re interested in working in film. It is gold. I have zero regrets about spending the money on it. It is truly life changing.

      Let me know if you have any other questions for me! 🙂

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