25 Jul

One Year Later: Some Perspective on Becoming a Freelancer

Roughly one year ago, my colleagues and I marched into a large conference room. For the first time in the tenure at our jobs, we were personally introduced to our higher ups. We said our names and what we did. And, then, simultaneously, we were all fired.

It was one of the most bizarre/hilarious/odd moments of my entire adult life. Now, I’ve been working in professional video production since 2007, and I like to think I’m somewhat good at what I do. But, here was an instance where it really didn’t matter how good I was at anything. This was straight economics. As a large company, my employer needed to cut costs. And, believe it or not, often times it’s easier to chop off the creative appendages first. Argh! Video production! My iPhone shoots video!

Now, ultimately, the consequences of that fateful meeting were not as glib as my initial description might suggest. Essentially, everyone on my team was offered another position within the firm on a different team. Or, they found another job soon after. Me, however—when offered a chance to go somewhere else—well,  I respectfully turned them down. I packed up my Nerf gun and romantically walked off into the freelance sunset. I like to think John Wayne would have been proud.

And, here I am. One year later.

The slightly self-serving goal of this blog post is to provide some perspective. Was is it worth it? Did I make the right decision?

Well, that’s the type of life question that doesn’t really have an answer. After all, it’s not like I can really compare it to the alternative.

Here’s what I do know: by quitting the 9 to 5, I was free to travel the country with my short film, Baggage, as it made it’s way around film festivals. In the process, I met some insanely talented and creative people. I took a vacation to Iceland. I edited a successful short documentary that won the audience award at the Palm Springs International Shortfest. I became assistant editor at Short of the Week. I finished a feature screenplay. I was able to write and curate video a bit for the Atlantic. I got to speak at a creative conference about the power of short film. I made it to the final round casting of a reality TV show. To be a bit cliché about the whole thing, for better or worse, I just went along for the ride.

If I seem like I’m oddly zen at my current situation, please don’t be fooled. For someone as neurotic as me, it has not always been smooth sailing. I’ve been frustrated and I’ve been scared. Remember—no one is as happy as they pretend to be on facebook. But, I will say this one thing about leaving the full time corporate gig: I certainly don’t miss the traffic.

Now, I don’t intend for this to be some “follow-your-dreams” hippie rant— the kind of thing where I stand on my proverbial soapbox, ranting and raving about the soulless nature of corporate America. Frankly, that idea has been waxed on so much that even Mr. Miyagi isn’t interested anymore. You see, those big companies aren’t soulless. They are made up of people. And, some of them are damn good people. But, they are purveyors of the bottom line—institutions driven by profit and little else (that’s capitalism, folks). Let’s not get bent out of shape over it.

I don’t tend to get personal on this seldom-used blog very often. But, if there is one thing I’ve learned in my brief 28 years it’s this: it’s okay to be scared. Not all the time, but every once in awhile, I encourage everyone to be absolutely terrified. If you don’t know where you’re going, you may accidentally find out where you belong.

Here’s to another good year…

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