Thursday, December 23, 2010
The Brightest Star In The Sky...
It's the holidays, and that means spending a lot of time with family, including relatives you haven't seen since around this time last year. And with all the cheek pinching from your Aunt Margaret and high fives from Uncle Ricky, comes updates of every one of your extended family members of whom you don't regularly keep in touch with.
I don't know about your family, but in mine, every year, there's usually one or two family members who's news takes the cake. "Cousin Ashley got married and had a kid this year! Her life's really coming together." "Elizabeth just got accepted to Yale! She's so smart..." "Robert's spending the year in a foreign country! We really miss him, but we're proud of how brave he is!"
And while all those accomplishments do deserve to be noted and praised, there's always the feeling that you're being judged and compared to them. As if by saying how smart and brave your cousins are, it somehow implies that you're not. To them, you're the niece or nephew who, although graduated from college a few years ago, still doesn't have a steady job and is barely making minimum wage.
But despite how insulting such comments may be, there's not a whole lot I can do other than smile and nod. Because here's the thing: They'll never fully realize how extraordinary I am.
What I do for a living is hard enough for people in the business to understand (if you want to stump a Producer, ask them what the difference between a grip and a juicer is), let alone a civilian. So to fully understand what we go through is nearly impossible for someone on the outside to really comprehend.
They'll never know how mentally and physically strong you have to be to do my job. How demanding it can be as you deal with rushed schedules and last minute changes. How exhausting the hours are or how every day can be a test of endurance. How so many people have come and gone because they just couldn't hack it. Or how hard it is to just get a chance to work in this Industry, let alone make a career out of it.
And if you're a female in my line of work, they'll never know how much bullshit you have to put up with or how much better you have to be than your colleagues just to get noticed. They'll never know how much courage you have inside you as you force your way into a male dominated field.
They've never considered the fact that I moved to this town by myself, alone and knowing no one. And how somehow, in a town of 4 million people, I've managed to make a place for myself...
The bottom line is, they'll never know.
But we, the unsung heroes of the film industry; the grips, electrics, P.A.s, set dressers, and everyone in between, we know how remarkable we have to be to be doing what we do. We know how hard we had to work to get to where we are. We know what kind of sacrifices we've made to be here. Many of us have given up other (and often easier) career paths just for a chance to follow our dream, which is uncertain and scary and requires more chutzpah than most people have. We know what kind of crap we have to put up with every day. And despite not getting the praise we deserve, we are motherfuckin' awesome.
So as your relatives gush on and on this year about how Sophie got a promotion at the bank or how Louis bought a house, know that your accomplishments are just as good as theirs are, if not better. You're in the trenches, day after day, taking whatever Production may throw at you and sometimes getting beaten in the process, but you're still standing. You may not get the acknowledgment you crave for your efforts, but know that surviving in this industry means that you have a certain something that most people don't.
To quote a comment left here on this blog a while back, "You're stronger than most for what you do as a job. Never forget that."
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.