Today marks one month of when I decided to quit all of my part time jobs.
I did it so I could be open to taking on freelance filmmaking gigs and audition whenever possible, and so far it has been as expected: hard. But while being "unemployed" frees up my time to develop my own projects (like The Wondrous Expanse), that means that when I do get an offer for paid work I have to take it. I don't quite have the financial safety to say "No" to things yet, and while it bothers me, I know it is going to be the way of the world until I get things moving.
So this take-every-gig-you-can-get thing resulted in me rewriting a script this past week for a project that needed some help. I offered tons of help and advice on story, and while the work was rewarding (kind-of), it wasn't my story. Yes, the plot and project was something that I was interested in, even excited about, but the story was about something that only kind-of related to me. I think what made it worse in the end was that my opinions on the story were being heard in one ear... then exiting out of the other. Part of me truly wonders if it was because of my age that they didn't listen to any of my much needed and much time-consuming advice. But in the end I wasn't even hired to offer my advice. My position was more on the managing side (of course).
SO. After one month of full-time freelancing - if you can call it that since I am not technically working - I had one paid production assistant gig offer (which coincidentally I had to turn down)... and a handful of auditions.
Well shoot, this article has so far made it seem like I am unhappy. But I'll say I am pretty stoked and proud of how many audition opportunities I have gotten this month! It is always a good feeling to me when I submit myself and a casting director wants to see me work. Even if I don't get the job, it is nice to think I was wanted, I was able to practice my craft and I was able to show off my version of this character.
I'll admit though - it is pretty exhausting for me to be my own manager/agent. I can not WAIT to build my team again!
Whoa whoa whoa, you might think. You quit all your jobs and you knew you had to self-advocate. How can you justify saying you're "exhausted" to being your own representation? Is it not a good thing that you can pick and choose which projects you want to audition for, is it not what you wanted?
Yeah. It is exhausting because I am doing ALL of the leg work, and there are no third-parties (aka representation) behind me to back my submission's validity. Sure, I might be a member of SAG-AFTRA, but that doesn't necessarily mean I am "good", and casting directors/producers know that. So that leaves the possibility of my submission being tossed before I have the chance to audition. That thought makes me tired.
And about the "No" thing: I could always choose what projects I audition for, even when I was being repped the past few years. And I will still be able to choose what projects I audition for in the future, because I trust myself to say "No" if something doesn't feel right.
My ability to say "No" to an audition, or to tell a producer that their film's script needs help is a direct result of my past month pounding the pavement and getting a lot of "No"s in return. My bulls*** tolerance is low because I am too broke to spend my time working on someone's project that doesn't pay me or doesn't give me any sort of new networking opportunities. And yeah, I am even MORE picky about who I network with: if I don't have the time to waste on things that aren't well thought out, I sure as hell don't have time to deal with wishy-washy people.
On a more positive vibe, all of these experiences have helped me become a better storyteller. It is not because of my newfound talent of saying "No", but because I have been on the receiving end of projects that aren't given enough pre-production time or money. I know that when I approach people to invest in my film, be on my crew, or cast me in a role, my ducks not only need to be in line but be able to do coordinated back-flips when needed.
I guess I am learning that I don't like my time wasted. Sure I might be 23, but that's even more of a reason to fill my time with projects that are at least thorough... and preferably paid. If it isn't one of those two things, I'll be at home developing my own stuff or I'll be out with friends.
I'll be enjoying my time because I know it is limited.
Originally published on The Wondrous Expanse.