Despite my snarky and sarcastic demeanor, I'm actually a pretty shy person. Before I moved to L.A., I spent most of my nights sitting at home, watching re-runs of Friends and eating ice cream and that was perfectly fine with me. I'd get invited to parties and other miscellaneous gatherings, but I rarely ever went. I wasn't anti-social; just not a fan of big, loud groups.
But then I moved to the land of broken dreams and hazy air and I quickly discovered that you have to know people in order to start anything remotely resembling a career here. And since I didn't know anyone at all in Los Angeles, this meant that I had to start meeting people. Or more specifically, the right kind of people. I didn't need a drinking buddy; what I needed was someone who could get me working on a film set.
So I started doing what they call "networking" in this town. Through one way or another (topics for a whole different post) I started meeting people. Grips, juicers, Producers, P.A.s... I met them all. Eventually, I got the point where I wasn't so shy anymore. Talking about this business became second nature to me. I was no longer the quiet one, just nodding along to the conversation. Instead, I'd contribute to them with my own anecdotes and observations.
Overtime, I found myself in some very fortunate situations. Whether it be working on a set with big time guys, at an industry event surrounded with Hollywood's elite (in a "below the line" sense) or just randomly running into an industry person of interest while standing in a line somewhere, I got to meet some pretty awesome people. They were the kind of people that everyday civilians may not have heard of, but a few of them are pretty well known in the grip/electric world. In other words, these guys have made a successful career from this town and have been around long enough to know what's what.
For the most part, like I said, I've been very fortunate. I've been meeting these people in situations where I shouldn't even be there. A young newbie like me mixed in with a seasoned crew that's used to working on big budget blockbusters? Many of my usual co-workers have never even met people like these, let alone work or hang out with them. And in situations like that, the conversation usually can't help but steer itself to me. Such a sight can be considered to be an oddity; the lone twenty-something girl in the midst of old school juicers/grips/cameramen. And after asking me where I'm from and how I got here, they inevitably ask me where I ultimately see myself in this industry. I usually give them one variation or another of the line, "Right now I'm just a grip/juicer but one day I hope to be a [insert dream job here]." The response I get is often something along the lines of, "You'll definitely make it. I can usually tell these things and you'll do just fine in this business."
Just the other day, I was having a conversation with another guy who's been in this industry for a while and before he even knew my name, he said, "Let me guess. You want to be a [insert dream job here] someday." I was kind of flabbergasted. "Yeah... How did you know?" "You have this air about you I guess. I think you'll make a good one."
Now, my question is, are these guys for real? (And when I say "guys," I really do mean guys. Since this is still a male dominated industry, most of the people I meet are men.) Or are they just trying to get into my twenty-something pants?
When I first started hearing these predictions for my future, I have to admit, it felt good. It felt like someone was acknowledging that I have what it takes. It's definitely an ego booster. But as time passed, the ratio of "you'll be awesome" comments compared to where I actually am right now in this industry doesn't really match up. Which makes me start to think that maybe these guys were bullshitting me, and just telling a young girl what she wanted to hear.
So, to anyone who's been in this industry for a while now (and also, anyone who may have an opinion on the matter), can a person really tell who will or will not make it? Can you really see who has the potential? Can you determine future success based on a certain je ne sais quoi? Or is it all just a line...?