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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.