Before I graduated from film school, I spent some time thinking "How do I support myself after the assignments are due...and student loans have stopped keeping me afloat?" "Oh gosh, how do I pay them off??" I had to step back, stop freaking out, and first decide between the corporate side of film or the freelance side. Two employment routes you can take in this industry.
Some advice I can offer – find out if you’re an “office” person or a “set” person - or both - before you commit to full time employment. I quickly discovered I was both, meaning if I were on set every single day for months, I would probably long for an office job and vice versa.
I used to think that I was just lazy and noncommittal, and maybe I am… but I have also discovered that I need change to stay challenged and excited. What about you? I have a lot of colleagues who work their office jobs and then accomplish their “real” goals on the side. I also have friends who are on set nearly every single day, and are able to maintain a life outside of it.
I know what works for me: I just say, “don’t get stuck.” That’s one fear I have - getting too comfortable in an office job or a job on set and not allowing myself to be challenged to create my own projects. In my year out of film school, I have met a lot of people who say they feel they got stuck and can’t go back to realizing their goals. That’s heartbreaking, but they also drive a Lexus and don’t worry about rent. I can’t allow myself to get comfortable and not strive toward the goal. I also can’t allow myself to get scared of “having no money!” I’m at a point in my life where I only have me to worry about, which won’t always be the case, so I need to take advantage of it now.
If you decide to live the freelance life like me, be smart about your finances. For example, for the longest time, I wanted a popcorn maker to make homemade popcorn. My parents have one (from like the 90s) and homemade popcorn is WAY better than microwaveable. I started to ask myself, “Do I really have 40 bucks to spend on one, though?” I discovered that I can easily make popcorn in a pot on my stove (the way my parents did when they were kids...). No official popcorn maker needed, and it’s way more fun! So, not only did I save 40 bucks, but I also saved shelf space. And, when you live in a studio apartment, shelf space is incredibly important!
In conclusion (is this a term paper?), the second you think, “I should buy this,” pause, do some research and see if there is a more economical way of doing or buying that item. THIS is how I am able to live on a budget in Los Angeles! Don’t get me wrong, some days I wish I could just tell that little voice in my head to “shut up” and go shopping! But then I remind myself of my goals and calmly walk out of Target…because this usually happens at Target.