Friday, September 13, 2013

Why I've been so quiet

Growing up in front of the TV as a kid, I was a sucker for hot new toy commercials. New Power Rangers Megazord? I need it! Dumb fighting robot rumble arena? Doesn't matter, this commercial rules and I have to have it! There was always rad music that got you pumped and lame special effects that were only passable to a 9 year old. Every once in awhile, when I was lucky enough to bring one of these toys home, I'd discover that it wasn't really as great as the commercial made it out to be. That kid actor was paid lots of money to look like he was having the time of his life playing with it -- and his hair was always soooo cool! Now that I owned the thing, I was jazzed for the moment, but sometimes left a little underwhelmed since the commercial hyped it up and raised my expectations. It wasn't actually what I wanted.

Okay, not the best example in the world... Point is, I'm currently running into the same problem where I started getting what I thought I wanted, and now I'm not really convinced that I want it anymore.

I came here to immerse myself in Hollywood, work on some movies, and eventually write my own. I reasoned that to mean I should get into production and be PA and work my way up to something better when the opportunity presented itself. At first, I couldn't find any paying work, so I PA'd for free on a few projects and those eventually led to my first paid PA gig. Short narrative, music video, commercial work -- I tried a little of each. Finally a little progress and a start, be it a small one. Problem: I just don't feel like it anymore.

Here's what I discovered about myself while working on the past few projects;

1. I can't really handle 13-14 hour workdays, especially when sitting down is a no-no. I don't think I have the physical stamina needed for constantly lugging around heavy equipment while always being sleep deprived. Sue me.

2. I don't like being everybody's bitch, nor do I have thick enough skin that I'm okay with being consistently blamed for things that aren't my fault. I know this comes with the territory, as it does in plenty of other types of work, but I'm still not okay with being in a "Yes, master. It won't happen again." position.

3. I diligently observed and hung out with people from each department to try and decide which one I would like to transition into. Thing is, I don't want in on any of them. No grip, lighting, art dept, camera, script supervising, no nothing. I'm just not drawn to any of them enough for me to dedicate myself to one. Some are appealing, but at the end of the day I'd rather just write something and leave the production to the other guys.

4. Although the experiences had while making this stuff are often a once in a lifetime deal, the money doesn't change anything. If I still feel like shit at the end of the day and keep having to ask myself why I'm doing it, the whole thing just doesn't work out in my head. Being a freelance PA is great for gaining on set experience and getting exposure to other professionals in their element, but if I can't imagine myself having a future in production, the low rates aren't really enough for me to stick around.

5. Working a more consistent job while writing on the side just sounds so much more appealing than anything else. Coming home each night during an extended shoot means immediately collapsing into bed for an attempt to rest before the next call, leaving me no time to even think about the story I'm working on. Deal breaker.

What's really annoying is that I've only been down here for a few months. That's nothing. I'm so young, but every gig feels like a make or break experience that will define the rest of my future. Yes, I'm aware of how stupid that sounds. I'm at a point where it's impossible for me to imagine where I'll be in just a year. I'm also at the point where if another PA gig comes up, I might need the money so badly that I'll have to do it whether I want to or not...

So much of the struggle in taking this route is separating what I think I want from what I need. If anything, I've learned what I don't want to do, which is somewhat useful, right? Don't get me wrong, this isn't a post saying I'm done and packing up. I just have this idea floating around somewhere inside me that says production might not be my thing and that's okay, try something new. So I will.