As a production freelancer who makes TV commercials, I have come to accept the fact that people have a hard time understanding my job because it is not a 9-5 at one office building. It took a while for my friends to figure out that my out time could be at 7p, or 10p. And dating – Oh dating! It would be a barrage of:
“What do you mean you don’t know what your schedule is like to plan dinner next week? Oh you have to reschedule because you’re still at the office? Are you just trying to avoid me? Stop wasting my time if you’re not interested. Are you cheating on me?
Those were the most common that I heard. After 10 years, not much phases me anymore, and my closest friends now “get it”. I learned that while dating within the industry may make things easier, it’s also nice to date people outside, and get away from the job as well. I have settled, moved up several positions and get steady work.
And now I moving to Texas, in a market that I have never worked in before with different union rules and everything!
So what’s the #1 comment you can say to me that will make my skin crawl for days? (this is if you have known me for a year or longer)
Oh, you’re moving? Do you have a job?
Of COURSE the answer is going to be NO!! I’m not moving for another month and a half! I don’t even get that much notice for jobs in New York! This response usually causes the other person’s face to get stuck with a worried/disgust look that if they hold it any longer will become permanent. The truth of the matter is that if someone were to ask me RIGHT THIS SECOND, do I have a job [in NY], my answer would be no as well. Or, ‘not right now, but I’m holding for a job or two that I’m hoping books in later this month’. But nothing is guaranteed. When a person has this reaction, it tells me two things.
1. You clearly have no clue how my industry works. I work per job/project. Sometimes they run back to back, some are long jobs, some are shorter jobs, sometimes they even overlap, and sometimes you have a month off. Weather permitting, it could be slow, or it could be busy. If I work hard, and budget myself properly, I will have work and I will be fine. Some years will be better than others.
2. It shows loud and clear that you are passing judgement on me. And trust me, I will remember this.
Look, let’s be realistic, asking about work when someone is making a big move is acceptable, normal- so why am I so touchy about the above question? It’s because it is the wrong question to ask a freelancer, and the answer will always send people into a tizzy. People expect it to be a yes or no answer. You go to a place, you hand in a resume, you get interviewed, you get a job. It’s simple. But that’s not the way it works as a production freelancer. So if you avoid saying yes or no and you just start to explain, you STILL get that worried “Oy….” look. So what’s the right question?
What are you going to do for work when you move?
How would I answer this question? I would say the following. I have spent the last year and a half making contacts in the Texas market. I have gone to Dallas and met with Producers, who have put me in touch with other Austin Producers and Production managers. I have worked on [travel] jobs where I have made close connections with people who work in or closely with the Texas/Austin market. I have already been offered a job in Austin, but I was unable to take it as I was currently working on another project. I just worked with a New York production company who does a TON of travel jobs, and films several jobs a year in Austin, and they have asked to stay in touch with me. ect.. ect..
I have done everything I could to try to make this transition as easy and seamlessly as possible. People make these big moves by moving first and trying to sort it out after they get there. I can not stand on my head and scream loud enough that the “figure it out when I get there” is NOT my plan…. I like to be as prepared as possible and I have planned as best I could, and I will continue to try to make as many contacts as I can – as this is a constant and integral part of my job. So how about instead of a look of disgust and disappointment, you smile and genuinely say, I wish you the best!