As promised I’m back with a few lessons learned. Its the 1st of July and we are already getting into the second half of the year. I’ve already had a very adventurous 2017. I’ve been in a car accident, driven cross country, almost got my first feature film producer credit (so close!), been stranded in NOLA, been homeless and got my first full time job at a studio (freelance life is over!) Here are some things I’ve learned from those experiences.
- You don’t need a reason to do what you want
When I got into my car accident in february, it gave me the reason I needed to move back home, but the truth is that I shouldn’t have needed a reason. I was tired of LA and wanted to leave. That was reason enough. You don’t need to justify decisions you make for yourself. Just do it and be happy.
2. Don’t stay broke
I stayed broke for wayyy too long. When you are broke, you are usually desperate and can be manipulated by people who say they will give you money. You don’t think as logically as you would have if you had savings. Save!
3. Dues are NOT mandatory
You don’t have to pay dues. Only people with no privilege pay dues. Don’t work a shit job because you’re “paying dues”. Get the job you want with what you have. This way when you need a reference, you won’t be nervous when your potential employer calls the manager you hated. I met a young white man recently who turned down 3 full time studio jobs, because he wanted to work in post production specifically and he felt like he didn’t have to be an office production assistant to move up to post production assistant. He said he knew people so working his way up wasn’t necessary. This guy is 23 talking about he doesn’t have to work his way up!
4. Quit a project if you don’t get paid within two weeks
I will never continue to work if I don’t receive my first check within two weeks. This may seem like a no brainer, but I’ve actually worked on projects that didn’t pay me until a month later, which can be standard in production. But for now I’m scarred, and I won’t be doing anything that doesn’t pay me within a two week period.
5. You can travel alone and you won’t be raped or robbed…well not robbed violently
People think Im cray cray because Im not afraid to do things alone. I go to dinner alone(when I’m not broke) go to movies alone, go to different countries alone and I drove cross country alone. Nobody is worried ’bout you! As long as you mind your business and give people a stank face when you see them, they will leave you alone. I got pick pocketed in Cannes, France in 2015 and I was by myself so I was pretty vulnerable when all my money was taken. I still went to Paris as planned but I stayed on a friend of a friends couch…a strangers couch. I stayed on a strangers couch. He, yes he, barely noticed I was there and I enjoyed the rest of my time in France. Live your life and watch your back, but don’t be paranoid. No one cares about your wack life. People are too busy on Facebook.
6. Listen to your parents/family
This one hurts, because i usually thing my family is automatically wrong when it comes to the entertainment industry, but sometimes family can see things that you can’t simply because they are on the outside. I know. Defeat sucks.
7. Focus on your OWN goals/projects
Collaborating is great and helping people on projects is awesome if it leads to you reaching your own goals. I was so focused on projects that weren’t my own and they didn’t give me much fulfillment. Now Im working on films/webseries that I’ve written and I feel much more confident because I’m not biting off more than i can chew and i don’t have to answer anyone.
8. Don’t chase credits
A big part of the reason I got myself into a tizzy was because I was chasing a credit. Credits are funny, they don’t hold any weight until way after the film is shot and you’re getting a great response from the audience. Of course you can try and impress people by saying your producing Denzel Washington’s next film, but it doesn’t mean anything until you and Denzel are screening the film. create the work you want to see. Just don’t be desperate to get on IMDB.
9. Learn what you need to know to excel at your goal
After my NOLA fiasco, I knew I needed to learn more about finances in Film and TV, so now Im in a production accounting job where I get all the money secrets.
I’m also developing a startup so I been listening to lots of podcasts about startups, product development, cash flow etc. If you don’t have the specific knowledge you need to make your film or start your business, you could be doomed to fail. Google is free ya’ll. Use her.
10. It is okay to start from nothing…again
This is not the first time I had to start over. I beat myself up about it, but its okay. Sometimes shit don’t work out. Just pick yourself back up even if its for the second or third or fifth time. Cry it out and develop a plan to pick yourself up. I was in the most disgusting Airbnb in the garden district in NOLA where I had my cry and created a plan to get on my feet. You are not alone.
Learn from my mistakes and don’t be like me! Be better.