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 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 […]
Here’s a lesson I keep learning over and over: if there’s something you really want to do but you have doubts, ignore those doubts and do it anyway.
This past weekend I worked as a production assistant on a short film about three hours from where I live. So many awesome things came from this shoot. Awesome things that I nearly missed out on because I almost did not even try to get on this shoot.
I found three different crew calls for this film in two different places. My biggest hesitation was how far the drive would be to help with the shoot. I did not really want to pay for a hotel room and driving six hours each day for however long the shoot would be sounded exhausting. But I kept going back to those crew calls. Something told me to apply, so less than one week before the shoot was scheduled to start I finally did. I got an email back less than an hour later asking me about my experience. I spoke with the director the next night on the phone and learned that he had actually just had a PA back out and needed one. He also had an extra hotel he could put me in. (Mini lesson here: you never know how things are going to work out for you.)
I worked three days on set for this short film. I acted as chauffeur for the main actor and director of photography, so I got to talk to them and get to know them a little bit (which is difficult to do when you’re working on set, so I was thankful for that opportunity). I went on lunch runs and prop runs and handed out bottles of water and helped with whatever the rest of the crew needed. I learned that I’m woefully out of shape and that bug spray really does not work all that well and that I really don’t mind being sweaty and covered in dirt and outside in the hot Oklahoma sun if I’m doing something I love. I met some really awesome people and had so much fun hanging out with and working alongside them.
I gained so much from this one short shoot. I got to work with a more experienced PA and learned more about the position from her. I got more comfortable driving in unfamiliar places and talking to people I don’t know. I made some great connections (here and in LA) and may even have a chance to do a gig with him in LA. 🙂 The director also gave me some tips for moving into the jobs I want on set and gave me a couple names of people I should reach out to who might be able to help me with that. The whole experience felt like such a huge breakthrough for my career. 🙂
“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” If you’re letting your doubts hold you back from following your dreams…stop it, lol. Amazing things are waiting for you on the other side of those doubts.
Above: Me acting as art director for my friend’s short film. My goal at the beginning of the year was to blog twice a week. And as much as I’ve tried to keep my Sunday and Wednesday blog schedule, that has not always been possible […]
On Tuesday this past week, I submitted for a small role in a feature film. I have been submitting like crazy for any and all background roles I find, but I usually get too nervous to submit for featured roles. I received the casting call […]
Just two months ago, I was feeling incredibly frustrated by my lack of film gigs.
Since July of last year, I have been following the steps the Friends in Film program laid out for me. I even found a couple gigs for September…or so I had thought before both ended up falling through. I was hearing a ton of success stories from other people in the program who were finding a bunch gigs much faster than I was, which was pretty discouraging.
I was also frustrated by my lack of acting auditions, despite how many I had been submitting for.
By the end of the year, I was feeling pretty hopeless and upset by my lack of success. I was angry that all my efforts were going nowhere. No matter how hard I tried, I could not even find one production to work on to gain the experience I needed to start getting paid gigs. More than once I had thought how much easier things would be if I didn’t have this dream. Nothing seemed to be working for me and I was ready to give up on the whole thing altogether.
But then, I found a gig for January. And then another for March. And another, and another. Before I knew it, most of my days off in March became booked with gigs.
My efforts to find acting roles are also starting to pay off: I was selected for two auditions this week. Two!
Early last year, I had read that things always seem to happen right around the time you are about to give up hope, so instead of giving up, you should push forward just a little longer. It seems that that is absolutely true. Imagine all the things I would have missed out on if I had given up the countless number of times I had wanted to. Instead, because I’m too stubborn to settle, I have the beginnings of the career I have been dreaming of.
This past Monday I got to work as a production assistant on the same film I worked on a couple weeks ago. We were in the same location but this day was much different than the first day I was there. The first day was […]
This last Sunday, I had my first gig as a PA. (A production assistant is basically a person who helps run errands or help set up/break down sets or whatever production needs help with.)
What was supposed to be a 12 hour day (9 a.m. to 9 p.m.) turned into a 13 hour day with one catered lunch break. We were filming in a basement, and I had to carry things up and down the stairs about a million times. I spent most of what was supposed to be my day off on my feet and 3 days later, my calves and thighs are still killing me.
And I loved every second of it.
The Friends in Film program is gold, you guys. She not only teaches you how to find these gigs, she teaches you exactly what to do to prepare for working on set and what to do once you get there. Without her training, I probably would have spent my entire day just standing around doing nothing, because I would have had no idea what I could or should do. Everyone on set was too busy to babysit me or tell me what to do every second of the day. But with that training, I was able to find stuff to do the entire day.
I don’t want to give away any of the training or anything from the film, but here are my big take-aways from the day:
- Every film set is different (obviously). This film set had a much smaller crew than I thought it would have. They didn’t have an art department person that particular day, and because I was helping with props, I think people assumed I was much higher up than a volunteer PA. People kept asking me questions that were way above my pay grade and, by the end of the day, the camera person called me the set dresser and asked me where I wanted to place a particular prop on set. Working on set means being flexible and filling in wherever production needs you. I not only helped with props, I helped set up and break down the table with snack foods (craft services), I helped pick up trash in the green room and on set, and I helped the actors clean real and fake blood off of themselves between takes. You never really know until you get there what tasks you’ll be taking on.
- Keeping a fanny pack on you and a backpack nearby with stuff the cast and crew may need is essential. Because I was carrying things like a Swiss Army knife, a first aid kit, and super glue, I was able to help fix issues on set immediately. Being prepared keeps everything flowing and on schedule.
- I was so glad I bought and wore a pair of non-slip, waterproof work shoes. For one scene, we dumped water on the floor (something I never would have guessed to prepare for beforehand). You never know what crazy things may happen on set. Also, wearing a comfortable pair of shoes was just what I needed to survive the 13 hour day.
- Because I was well-trained and well-prepared, I made a good impression and increased my odds of being asked to help again or be hired for paying gigs. The 1st Assistant Director made a comment about how well-prepared I was. The director, after I had only been there a couple of hours, asked if I could come back the next day because they could use a props person (I couldn’t, unfortunately, but still!). At the end of the day, the director thanked me for helping and asked me what my film goals are. I told him I want to act and be a script supervisor. He told me he had a role in this film he could give me (with a couple lines!) and that I could script supervise on the days I’m free. The Friends in Film teacher promised stuff like that would happen once you get on set, but it’s one thing to read about it and another thing to actually experience it. I could hardly believe it happened so quickly for me. I was on cloud 9 the entire way home. 🙂
- The things that would have normally irritated me (giving up my day off, waking up way earlier than usual, spending the entire day working, picking up after people) didn’t. I was actually in a really great mood the entire day. I loved every part of getting to help create this film. Every time I get to help with any aspect of filmmaking — attending auditions, writing, story boarding, learning lines, even (surprisingly) talking to business owners about using their business for filming — I feel nothing but ecstatic to be part of it. I was clearly made for this stuff, and it’s so exciting that this career is starting to take off for me.
If you are an aspiring screenwriter, actor, director, or other film-related creative type, you should seriously consider the Friends in Film program. Signing up was the best decision I’ve ever made for my career.
Also, don’t give up on your dreams. Keep stubbornly pursuing them and they are bound to happen for you. 🙂
Last December, I was ready to give up on all my dreams. I was discouraged, frustrated, and just…tired. It would be a much easier life if I just settled for working at the music store. But the universe wasn’t ready to let me give up. […]