Archives for posts with tag: film industry

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I returned to LA from Georgia over a week ago and am just beginning to feel part of my life again.  It’s something I write and think about frequently; the idea that there is my real life and my temporary life, the one I have never figured out how to live while on location, from a hotel room on the side of a freeway, complete with bad carpeting and a mini fridge.  And while I have discovered a few of the things that keep me connected (finding organic produce at Target, my workout CDs, and books), it still feels like I am killing time, waiting to get back to living.

So, what is living? When do I feel connected and present in my life? In addition to being around those I love, with whom laughter, talking, and silence come easy, the answer seems to be creativity. Whether its a blog post, a meal, or a card, when I create something, I feel that I am communicating with the world and can rest well.  For the past week I haven’t been sleeping and have also felt too tired to create anything; my meals have been quick, my outfits boring, my blogs nonexistent. Blank. But, slowly, the juices are returning.  The energy to cook, write, and create beauty is returning and I trust that, with some rest, so will the desire to pursue the larger projects floating around in my head.

I bought flowers, avocados, limes, and chips on the way home from work.  Time for a brainstorming, list making, happy hour party, even if it’s just me and my computer, on a Wednesday afternoon.  If I am going to keep making my living in an industry I don’t love, but that allows me time off and pays my bills, there need to be some ground rules:

1.Only go on Location if it’s to somewhere Awesome, for no longer than a month, and only if I am going to make a bunch of money.

2. Create something, anything, once a week, minimum. Write something everyday.

3. Use the money I make working to sign up for every class/workshop that looks fun, writing and otherwise. Save the rest.

4. Say No to Full Time work. Part time allows for classes and projects. 

5. Never forget to find and create beauty, even in Georgia.

 

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“I have one foot out the  door, but he doesn’t know where he’s going,” a co-worker told me last week, over a cup of coffee and a donut from the craft service table, as we stood, backs to a cold wind that whipped dust in our scarf and goggle covered faces, waiting for the director and cinematographer to set up a shot.  I laughed. At the moment my feet were cold, even inside winter boots, and I wondered if they had led me to that moment, or had merely followed along. “Where or when did we get the idea that a job in an office was such a bad thing?” I wondered. Later that night I sat on a cooler, next to a different co-worker, and again we waited for a shot to be set and again a dusty, cold wind whipped our faces.  And again I wondered how I’d come to view this as normal.

But, then, what is normal? I’ve spent the better part of thirteen years on movie sets, waiting for shots to be set, in the wind, and for a long time it felt very normal.  I became used to intense periods of work followed by equally intense periods of existential wandering. It is only recently, since I have been taking more time off, pursuing different goals, making different choices, and following my heart, aka feet, that my previous normal is up for examination. My new version involves sleeping well, writing, wandering with a purpose, taking care of myself physically, and making decisions based on how my overall wellbeing will be effected.

As I sat in the wind, I realized that my former and current normals had one thing in common; my desire for freedom. Somewhere along the way, I’d convinced myself that offices equalled cages, commitments equalled obligations and then resentments, and that there was no way to intertwine finances with my own creativity.  I loved to show up in the morning on a new set, to know that no job ever lasted more than a few months, and that I could save money while working because I had no time to spend it, or do anything really, other than work and sleep.  I was willing to overlook the lack of free time, the weather, and the adrenal depleting high, that was actually quite addictive.

But now, as I spend less time on set and more in the office I designed in my home, I realize my feet are leading me in a different direction than the one I am so familiar with. And I don’t actually know where we are going. I figure we haven’t gotten lost yet, so I’ll just continue to follow.

 

 

 

  
 Back at work for a week and, so far, so good! I have been sleeping AND waking with enough time to stretch and meditate, two things I’m determined to hold onto as the hours grow longer and the off-time shrinks. 

I can feel the adrenaline creeping back in but hope to keep it at the lowest levels possible. The annoying little truth is that on some level I love the crazy, the high, and the pace of a movie set. And this show promises to be a busy, if short, one. 

As I stood on set yesterday, our first day of shooting, I felt comfortable and confident, doing a job I’ve done for years and that has, overall, benefitted me on many levels. I am also starting this job having just had three months off. I feel refreshed and know that the money I make over the next couple of months will allow me to take more time off this fall. 

I’m beginning to see how these two sides balance each other; the prompt, organized, slightly OCD costumer and the relaxed, creative, let’s just see what happens wanderer. It’s a tricky balance that, even after twelve years, I haven’t figured out, but I’m optimistic that with awareness I can have and/with rather than either/or. Balance, balance, balance. I want to be in love with every minute of my little, awesome life, rather than waiting for this or that to happen or for the time when it’s all crystal clear and figured out. 

It’s a whacky ride and I think that’s what I’m starting to accept and appreciate. And sleep, meditation, and stretching all help that appreciation!

I am sitting outside of a coffee shop in Albuquerque and a movie happens to be shooting across the street. Men in workbelts scurry around and I had to park around the corner because the street is full of “no parking due to filming” and “businesses are open” signs. And all I feel is relief. Relief that after sitting here for half an hour I can leave and go about my day. A day that didn’t start with an alarm and will end whenever I get tired and feel like going to bed. I’ve been off for just under two weeks and am only now starting to feel rested as the insomnia that dominated my last show begins to subside. 

I have a list of things I hope to accomplish during this self funded sabbatical, not the least of which is beginning to try to figure out a new way to make a living that doesn’t wreak havoc on my nervous system. Yikes! Whether it ends up taking over my film career or simply gives me more of a purpose and income in between film jobs, I don’t know. But, I do know that as I get older, the lifestyle that goes along with the film industry seems less and less sustainable for me.

I’ve signed up for writing classes and jewelry classes, I revamped my long neglected Etsy site, fresastudio.etsy.com, and am trying to stop thinking of such things as just hobbies, incapable of possibly supporting me. What if I gave them half of the hours I give my film career in a given week? Chances are they’d flourish. 

I am very grateful for a career that gives me the time to explore other options and has been such an interesting one for over a decade. But, at the moment, my studio is calling and I’m going to go see what I find there. I’ll let you know. 

  

Last night I came home after a particularly difficult six day workweek and collapsed on my couch. Scrolling through Facebook, I was struck by the two categories of posts I saw. On one side were friends writing about summer vacations, weddings, and the daily happenings in their lives. On the other were my film industry colleagues and friends. These posts relayed the tragic news that a driver on one show had fallen asleep at the wheel after an excessively long day and been killed in a car accident. Another friend spoke of the wife he hasn’t seen in his three months on the road. And another ranted about having just worked an 85 hour week with less than 36 hours off until he had to do it all again, “the film industry chews you up and spits you out,” he wrote.

After working an 80 hour week myself, in a canyon of white sand, wrapped head to toe in UV graded clothing, in temperatures over 100 F, I had to ask myself why? Why do this?

When I began working in the industry, just before my 24th birthday, I had a recently acquired Bachelor’s Degree and no plan to speak of. The Industry seemed exotic and I quickly found myself the member of not one but two IATSE Locals, complete with a pension, dental, and the ego boost that came when acquaintances learned that I worked on movies and around famous people. I liked the excitement, I enjoyed working in different cities, and I quickly became accustomed to the money I earned through excessive overtime.

But, I also began to lose touch with friends, mail went unopened, and my already developed insomnia worsened. I went months on a diet of caffeine and adrenaline, driving when I was too tired to safely be behind the wheel. I used being “on location” as the perfect excuse to postpone dealing with things that adults have to deal with, be those break ups or home repairs or any number of other unpleasant matters.

I am using the past tense because I like to think that in the past year, I’ve done some difficult and good course correction. I decided to choose my jobs based on if they were in town, if they weren’t too long, and if I liked the people I would be working with. But, even taking all of that into account, over the past month I’ve spent most of my days in ski goggles to keep out the blowing dust, I’ve worked several 18 hour days, and driven when I shouldn’t have.

How to turn the fantasies of owning a small hotel or being a writer/traveler/blogger/creative into reality? How to let go of the fear that keeps me coming back to films for more, hoping that maybe, maybe this time, it will be different. But, it is what it is. It’s an industry that uses its perceived glamor to remind the crew there’s a line of people who would kill to replace them. Almost twelve years in, I see the young starry eyed 24 year olds and it seems like another lifetime that I was one of them.

And yet, after all of that, I know I was not meant for a 9-5 existence. I would crumble at a desk. Finding some type of balance between the two seems to be my current universe-sent task. In the meantime, I will try to work as safely as possible, to be grateful that I’m employed, to continue paying off debt, to keep my eyes open for new opportunities, to save money, and to be kind to my fellow crew members who look as tired and hot as I am.

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