The True Cost of the Filmmaking Life (Are You Ready to Pay It?)
What are you willing to pay in order to make a film?
Not talking about money here. It's an issue that isn't talked about nearly enough in our industry -- or in any industry for that matter: how much are you willing to sacrifice in order to achieve the level of success you want? The answer to that question gets more difficult to answer, it seems, the more the success demands, as well as the more you have to sacrifice to get it, but young filmmaker Simon Cade delves into this subject for his latest video for DSLR Guide.
Warning: it's about to get a little personal.
When I first started on my filmmaking journey I was willing to do almost anything to progress my career -- and I did. If I wasn't sticking my nose in a textbook or studying a film, I was staring at a computer screen to finish a screenplay. Needless to say, my closest relationships with family and friends began to suffer -- even end. I was never available. I was never around.
But now, after a handful of years being able to be a distant, but very passionate workaholic that could hop on a plane any time I wanted for a "change of creative scenery," I'm finding it much more difficult to just be okay with dedicating myself completely to my creative endeavors. I've got responsibilities. I've got a family. My daughter asks me, "Mama, can I help you work?"
Surely many of you can relate to these issues and have often asked yourself how to balance work and home life, and really -- there isn't a clear answer. Some people will say, "Sacrifice everything, because the people at the top got there by doing just that," while others will say, "Yeah, but those golden statuettes and accolades won't keep you warm at night."
Living a life making films is difficult; it demands so much of you. So, the only thing we can really do is try to, first, define the balance that works for us, and then take the steps to acquire it. Maybe for you that means spending less time vegging out in front of the TV and more time working -- maybe that means spending more time vegging out and less time working. Maybe that means establishing traditions at home that you refuse to miss. (For me, that's putting my daughter to bed every night and finding at least an hour out of the day to dedicate to reconnecting with my partner.) And if you're like many of us trying to do it all, just know that, more often than not, you can -- but you can't do it all very well.
There's no right or wrong way to do this -- everybody is different and has different priorities. If you're able to be 100% dedicated to your filmmaking career, kudos to you! But if you're like most filmmakers who have families and friends and other responsibilities, the struggle is real, but knowing that others are struggling along with you might help you as you try to find the right balance.
Also, you should probably thank your friends and family for putting up with your shenanigans. You should do that right now.