I asked for a week off from the office, wandering some places with a group of film-makers, doing some odd jobs, and found myself quite content with it.
The whole week was freelancing in its most essence. You appear somewhere, nod at someone you know, get down to your business until you’re done, and then sort of disappear into thin air, without trying to strike up a conversation with anyone, unless you feel like it. No real contact with anyone but whom you’re working under, and the best part is, hardly anybody cares who you are, where you come from – they just need to know what you do here will not interfere with their jobs, and off you go with your obligations.
I had chance to know about film-making process, lighting test; what certain units in a film crew would do and how people should work to ensure the whole thing don’t fall apart or out of control – and all have been pretty impressive. The people in charge there – excluding the foreigners who are directors, producers, scriptwriter, etc. – those who play the role of contact points between art department, camera team, stunts team…not to mention the ability to keep track on the actors, make sure all go according to shooting schedule, over-budgeting, unexpected incidents caused by both internal and external pressure … Gosh, they are crazily talented and so good at their jobs and very well capable of fixing those insane occurrences. Being able to meet and spend a short time with them make me realize my own incapability and lack of various skills – thanks to the experience, both my eyes and my mind are widening in another field, even though for just a little while, it means a lot to me.
The show business is as fascinating, enchanting and surreal as you can imagine. Having a quick glimpse into that world and it already overwhelmed me immensely, but the glamour and glitter are only a show in front of camera, on newspapers or online articles. It’s because the showbiz sells the illusion, the dream, not the reality. People don’t want to know behind-the-scene as it really is. They sometimes forget, for an actor to stand and smile affectionately, it takes an amount of great effort. I’ve seen the dark circles under the eyes of the actors who just flew back from somewhere, showed up on set worn out, but immediately get prepare for the wardrobe shots without complaining. I’ve seen people of film crew forgot to eat their lunch, trying to find ways for the camera to fit inside the car for an unbelievably hard shooting, under the heat of mid-day. And I knew for a fact that all these guys might not have been paid very well, even though they are responsible for the hardest parts of the filming. The DOP explained to me that in his country, there are around 30-40 people divided into small teams, each in charge of different tasks; while here, a team of 15 people must arrange from camera setting, lighting to technical issues for the film, being paid half of what they deserve, and still going out of their ways to meet the directors’ expectations. For me it cannot just about the payment – there have been many dropped out midway; still these people stay and display a passion for what they choose to do.
So, moral of the story, for you if you are just as young and hopeless as me:
- Don’t choose the freelance life if you want a stable life, payment comes monthly, working inside a cubicle, air conditioner provided. If minus the many “talents” needed to climb the success ladder, the highest you can be is Head of some department of some corporate – if you devote enough and work long enough, also cunning enough then probably you’d get a slightly higher position – and better income. It sounds boring as shit, but it will shield you, safe and sound. You can have time to study more, to go eating out, movies nights, coffee nights and all that jazz whenever you want. And keep climbing to that great big hill of hope. You’ll get there, if time is on your side.
- If you want to meet different types of people from all walks of life, if you crave the excitement of not knowing what tomorrow brings, if you’re OK of being underpaid for a while until you get enough life experience to start bargaining your self-worth, and if the unstable payment isn’t an issue comparing to the new set of special soft to hard skills you’d gain along the way (of course if you are willing and eager to learn) then, consider live your life as freelancer. You would have to buy health insurance package yourself; pay bills yourself, take on the world yourself. You would have to be headstrong and sometimes disobedient towards your parents until they give up on molding you into a cage. You will get to decide how you want your life to be, and be 100% responsible for all the choices you make, doesn’t matter good or bad. Also, be prepared of not being paid on time, or at all. Make good choices, buddy!
- For those who work hard, and by hard I mean working under constant pressure, no matter day or night or the weather; meeting the unreasonable demands on daily basis, and what I’ve mentioned here is just a tiny part of what really happens; they deserve everything that come their ways, the money, the fame, the luxurious lifestyle. In any field of job, any business line, any successful story, you only know about the success, you don’t know what price these people have to pay, how they have struggled, how many things they have to sacrifice, before getting that success. Hell, some suffer from continuous failures and unspeakable losses, until they manage to make their own names. So don’t judge anyone, try to know others’ stories before drawing conclusions. In short, don’t be an asshole who judges without thinking first. We don’t get to be judges of others’ lives.
Overall, it has been a crazy year with a touching end.
I look forward to another bad-shit-go-insane year to come.