I consider myself a professional storyteller. I do that through writing, acting and producing. I've been acting professionally since 2001 and have been writing and producing since 2003. I started producing because it was a way to ensure things I wrote actually got made. Then, as a writer, I could provide myself with roles as an actor. It all chained together.
One thing I love about the job is how varied it is, which a lot of people don't understand. It's very difficult to fall into any sense of monotony because producing, writing and acting all have their own skill sets, challenges and work environments. One day I may be spending 12 hours on a computer while another is spent 14 hours on a set. One thing that's always consistent is the time dedication. Short days are few and far between.
My satisfaction with my job changes because it's often "feast or famine." When I'm working on projects and have income coming in, I'm at a 10 satisfaction-wise. When I'm struggling to get bills paid and there's a lot of confusion or stalling on a project, that number drops considerably. But at the end of the day, there's nothing else I'd rather be doing and that passion for it is really vital in surviving. In a perfect world, I wish the financial side would take care of itself but that's not realistic. The business side is even more important sometimes than the creative side.
I still wake up sometimes amazed that I've been able to experience the things I've experienced. I'm still very low on the Hollywood food chain but I've still had an amazing time and feel like I'm still at the beginning of it.
One thing unique about my situation is I wrote, produced and acted in a feature film that I funded entirely myself. That's not something I recommend, and I'm still paying the price for it, but I'm glad I did it. Why not gamble on yourself? Have a plan and stick to it, but be flexible enough to react when things go wrong. Because they will.
I started producing because I wanted to get a script I wrote made and I wanted to act in it. I'd change some of the people I worked with early on because there are a lot of underhanded people in this business. Hindsight is always 20/20 though.
I learned the hard way to get everything in writing ahead of time. Everything. I didn't do that early on and then a project grew bigger than anyone had anticipated and we ended up having to go back and correct a lot of problems. Write EVERYTHING down. That's also probably the most important lesson I learned outside of school while in the actual industry. It just saves you so much stress later.
Strangest thing that ever happened to me on the job may have been when I ran into Adam Sandler at Sony Studios. He was in the middle of the street in a Speedo, dancing with an infant while singing at the top of his lungs. It was just so random but he was a great guy.
I get up every day happy that I get to work in a creative industry because I find it fulfilling. I'm incredibly proud that I wrote and produced a feature. It's still getting finished, but it's an accomplishment that required so much sacrifice.
Flakiness is a huge challenge that drives me crazy. People disappear, don't return phone calls or don't do the work they're supposed to do in the time agreed upon all the time in the low-budget world.
This is a highly stressful job. Jodie Foster said that producing chinks away at the soul. There's a lot of negativity and people undermining you much of the time. It's important to step away and take a break, even for a day here and there.
Pay varies. There is NO way of providing a range. The financial side is always a huge source of stress. I definitely hope some of these projects I'm currently working on take off so I can be more relaxed financially but I get by.
I don't know what a vacation is. A day off is a luxury. Someday.
You must be persistent above all else to succeed in this industry but also be realistic about what your own shortcomings are. Accentuate your strengths and hide your weaknesses. Study business, writing or acting depending on what your interests are. Knowledge is power.
I'd tell a friend thinking about this as a career to do anything else if anything else makes him happy. If not, go for it.
Ideally, in five years I'll be doing similar work that I'm doing now, just for a lot more money. One can dream, right?
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