You’re already in, so, sink or swim?

Disclaimer: this isn’t one of my usual positive posts but I want to keep it real. It gets better though. I think…

You work so hard. You are cheerful and always strive to do your best but sometimes it doesn’t seem to be good enough. Sometimes all you can think is why? Is there something wrong with me? I desperately wish someone would tell me so I could fix it. 

Even for an optimistic, “bubbly” person there are some times things just get to you. Some days stress and worry weigh down and you focus more on the struggles than the rewards. You wait and wait and get no calls. And on the rare occasion that you find an opportunity to apply, you either don’t hear anything back or are rejected because So-and-so was better suited for the job. And while you’re glad for So-and-so (they have bills to pay too) it doesn’t make the pain of rejection any less… Then, when you do get to fill in for a day, people around are taking about how busy its been lately and how they’re looking forward to a week or two off before the next gig. Man, wouldn’t that be a nice problem to have?

For me, this is a relatively busy month…

I look back at the last two years of trying to get work. The slow start crescendoing to a whopping average of 2 days on set every 2-3 months (I hope you can read the sarcasm there). Hardly enough consider living off of. It feels hopeless. 
Some of it is my fault. After my first year of college I interned on a film over the summer (wouldn’t trade the experience for anything!). All went well and I got several calls for work right afterwards but I was starting the next semester and had a job and other responsibilities that I couldn’t break away from at that time and had to turn them down. This gave the impression that I wasn’t interested in working in film. An impression that, unfortunately, I am still striving to correct today (almost 4 years later). 

Some of it, I have no control over. Like being female. I’ve been on sets where the other guys in my department were visibly uncomfortable in my presence. Where they would continually stop themselves or apologize for taking (even when the subject was as simple and innocent as taking about who was dating who) saying sorry, “that’s just what us guys talk about. We’ll try to be more careful.” Despite me assuring them they’d said nothing wrong or offensive. I’ve been on a set where the first thing said (before even exchanging names) upon my inquiry of where to find the key grip was “oh. You don’t look like a grip.” What a rough way to start everything off. (That was probably the most discouraging set I’ve ever worked on).

The rest of it, I just don’t know. Perhaps one day it will either surface (so it can be corrected) or go away on its own. 
But let’s not make this too depressing. Yes, those challenges are real. However, things do get better. I have to remind myself when things are gloomy. Now, I can look back at the last 5 months where things miraculously picked up. Ive still been filling in a day here and a day there but it increased from 2 days in 2-3 months to 4 different gigs in the past 5 months. Thats almost double! 

My advice to you: Don’t get your feet wet unless you are ready to jump in. Once you do, hang in there, keep your chin up. It takes a long time for the ship to start sailing but eventually I’m sure it will. 
P.S. I want to clarify that most of the Oklahoma G&E crew have shown a great deal of acceptance to women in traditionally male roles. They’re pretty great! Comments like the one quoted earlier have been from out of state crew members who have brought films here to work on.


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