What a Difference a Year (and Some Effort) Can Make

What a Difference a Year (and Some Effort) Can Make

One message I’m receiving over and over: What a difference a year (and some effort, and a scooch of bravery) can make.

Last September (in 2018), I attended the Norman Film Fest as a volunteer. It was my very first film career related event and I was so, so nervous about it. It touched on all my biggest fears: driving in a bigger city/unfamiliar place, going by myself to an event where I didn’t know anyone, and then talking to those people I didn’t know in an attempt to network and hopefully find gigs. I definitely woke up that morning thinking about how much I did not want to go.

I spent the first few hours there helping check people in, then I went to the panels the fest was hosting. I got the nerve up to talk to one filmmaker while we stood at a table looking at brochures, I asked one question during the panels (how to find PA gigs), and then one of the panelists talked to me afterwards about my question. Then I went home. It wasn’t much, but it was a big step for me at the time.

This year, I got an email asking if I would volunteer again. The festival holds a special place in my heart now, since I see it as the beginning of this career, so I went. And again, I saw just how much can change in the course of one year.

Driving to Norman? Ain’t no thang. I’ve been there several times now for auditions and acting classes. Meeting new volunteers and other attendees? No problem. I even volunteered to drive around Norman with one of the other volunteers to pick up things we needed (something formerly unheard of for me, because I would have been too nervous about making small talk with them while we ran errands).

After my volunteer time was up, I went to the panel discussions. To my surprise, I had met or worked with at least half of the people speaking on the panels. I listened to them talk about how to find an agent and how to find film work and found that, while I did take some notes, most of it was stuff I was already doing myself. When the panels were over, I made small talk with my new acquaintances and even went and got a beer with some of them. You guys! First of all, I barely drink beer. I have like one or two that I like. Secondly, hanging out with groups of people (besides my very closest friends) is still a super nerve wracking thing for me. That’s an introvert thing, for sure, but one I’ve been making a point to work on being more comfortable with. 2018 Melissa would have never, ever even considered such an activity. But! I really enjoyed hanging out with them and even found another beer I like. 🙂

At the end of the day, I went to actually watch some of the films. By myself. (Another thing that I am just now getting comfortable with, but really, it’s one of my new favorite activities.) I recognized a ton of people in both the audience and on screen. These are people I have either seen at other film fests or that I have worked with in the past year.

It was really awesome to realize both just how much I’ve grown as an individual and how much I was able to do in film in a year. I was not expecting a brand new Melissa to come out of this career pursuit, but I am super happy that that is one of the byproducts.

If you are tired of where you are, I want to encourage you to just take that first step towards the life you want. Things can change so quickly for you if you just go for it!

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