Thursday, July 1, 2010
Just One More Time...
People rarely remember the bad times. Sure, it was a sucky shoot with long hours, shitty catering and wet and muddy locations, causing you to grumble throughout the day. But a couple weeks after wrap, you usually look back at it all with a smile on your face. The weird thing is, you remember spending the whole shoot pissed off and miserable, but you no longer feel that animosity.
Part of it could be that time heals all wounds. Or that you were surrounded by great people who knew how to make the best of a bad situation. Or you could be in total denial.
Or it could be that despite the hell you went through, you were doing a job you love.
That's usually what it is for me. No matter how shitty the situation, the bottom line is that there's no job I'd rather have than one that puts me on set. I like being a part of the film making process. I like seeing part of what I helped create on a screen. I like the free food. But most of all, I like the people. Sure, there are a few assholes and weirdos here and there, but they're absolutely outweighed by those who are just awesome to be around.
I guess you could say that low budget indie productions are my "specialty." Probably 97% of what I work on are shoots where we're overworked, underpaid and often have to fend for ourselves in terms of safety and basic labor laws, and we make do with what we have with our limited amount of gear. It can be stressful and extremely challenging at times, but it can also be a lot of fun.
It's also a life you know you shouldn't get stuck in. A life like this is fine when you're young and just starting out, but any smart grip/electric knows that you should get out of it as soon as possible. You either climb as fast as you can to reach the holy grail of union life, or use where you're at now as a stepping stone to another career.
But sometimes, things are easier said than done. After so many years of living the indie life, I've grown rather comfortable to the situation. The pay I get on these low budget jobs isn't great, but it's enough for me to get by. I'm used to the rhythm of the particular crews I work with and we have a lot of fun working with each other. I've gotten enough of a good reputation within these groups that my opinions are very much heard and respected. And I've run into the same (budget friendly) caterers so many times that I know which dishes to avoid.
It's not the best life, but it's not particularly a bad one either (for now). It's familiar and comfortable, making it hard to say goodbye to.
Unless, of course, you're smack dab in the middle of a shoot with bad weather, long hours, and shitty pay. Then, it's easy for you to think to yourself, "I need to get out of this kind of life.... fast." But as I mentioned before, it doesn't take very long for that fire to burn out and you'll think to yourself, "Eh, it wasn't that bad after all" and you'll take another job.
It's a vicious cycle. You're hating the job. You loved the job.
And then there's the people. You end up loving these men and women that you spend every day with. They've become like family. A family you'd have to leave behind if you ever got the courage to say sayonara to the low budget life.
And leaving also means that you have to say goodbye to the crews you've grown accustomed to working with. Who knows if the new crews you meet will be as fun and understanding as they are? What if instead of respect, they look at you like you're just some little girl who doesn't belong in their department? What if you can't hack it in the world of bigger shows?
I know that I can't stay in this indie world forever. I know that with every shoot, I'm abused by Production one way or another (whether it be from skimping on safety, shitty pay, long hours, etc). I know that I'm hurting my own future and career in the long run. I know that I have colleagues who'd do unspeakable things for the opportunities and offers I've had. I know that the food on the bigger shows are infinitely better that what I'm used to.
But I also know that it'll be hard to say goodbye to this world I've grown accustomed to and enter a new one filled with so many questions and uncertainties. I know that I must leave someday, but for now, I'd be lying if I said I didn't want just one more taste of comfort and home.
After all, we rarely remember the bad times.