7 Things in My Career I Will Never Regret

7 Things in My career I Will Never Regret
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Career regrets are common in the film industry, for those who work both in front of and behind the camera.  Actors turn down what ultimately end up being Oscar winning roles or hit TV series.  We freelance crew members sometimes make our own bad career decisions.  As freelancers, it’s sometimes hard to define the line between building a solid industry career versus just having a series of jobs.  I’ve never regretted turning down a job, but I’ve regretted staying on a few.  How we navigate through this job maze determines the kind of career we end up with.

Pursuing the jobs you want instead of just taking the jobs that come your way gives your career focus.  It can also be very frustrating at times.  However, only you are responsible for your career and your choices will determine your future.

Here are 7 things in my career I will never regret:                                       

  1. Quitting a toxic workplace.

As a trainee in the 1980’s, I didn’t get to choose the jobs I was on or how long I had to stay on them.  Some of the jobs were wonderful, some were just okay and a couple were nightmares I couldn’t wait to put behind me.  After those awful experiences, which ranged from my boss being busted for drugs on set to an actor exposing himself to me, I vowed that I would never work on another toxic set.  I can look back objectively some those terrible experiences today, but they took a toll on my physical and emotional well-being at the time.  Life is too short to be miserable at work.  Move on from toxic workplaces.

  1. Not working for screamers.

Just about everyone has the experience of working for a screamer at some point in their career, especially freelancers.  It creates a hostile workplace that isn’t conducive to productivity or growth.  Whatever you might have otherwise learned there gets lost in the noise.  Screamers are sometimes talented, sometimes not.  At the end of the day it doesn’t matter.  Those around them end up exhausted, frustrated and ready to move on.  Lesson learned.  I won’t do it again.

  1. Leaving shows for better opportunities elsewhere.

To advance in your career as a freelancer, you must be prepared to move on when better opportunities arise.  In the beginning of my career, I often felt guilty about doing this.  Then I attended a seminar given by someone in the industry with a lot more experience.  He was asked the question of what to do when better opportunities arise and you’re faced with leaving a show.  He said replace yourself, if possible, and move on.  You cannot advance your career without being willing to leave jobs for better jobs elsewhere.  Spare yourself any guilt and head to your next opportunity.

  1. Choosing great people to work with over high profile shows.

Years ago a friend of mine in the industry was offered 2 jobs.  The first was on a good, but not high-profile show known as being a great place to work. The second was on a new show with lots of buzz helmed by creative but volatile producer-director.  She took the second show, where she was over-stressed and miserable.  The show didn’t even last a full season.  I would have taken the first show.  The first show ran a few seasons and it was, by all accounts, a terrific place to work.  I’ll go with the great group of people over the high profile show any time.  There’s often more opportunity to move up on shows where you’re work is appreciated, as opposed to high-profile shows where you’re barely noticed, let alone appreciated.

  1. Not signing an NDA if I don’t know what the product is.

Sounds ridiculous, right?  I got a call about a year ago for a job on a commercial.  I asked what the job was.  I was told by the producer that she couldn’t tell me unless I signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA.)  I asked her if she was booking me.  She replied that she couldn’t do that yet, but to consider myself on hold.  Fortunately, I promptly got a job offer for another commercial on the same day and took it.  I don’t put myself on hold or sign NDAs if no one will even tell me the name of the company or product.  What information could I possibly share about it if I haven’t even been booked on the job?  That’s a bit too secretive for me.  What are they hiding?

  1. Passing on shows with insanely long hours.

Some shows are known for insanely long hours.  Not just 12-hour day long, but 16-plus hours every single day.  The X-Files and Quantum Leap come to mind, but there are plenty of other shows that fall into that category.  I worked on a few of these shows and that was enough for me.  I decided to say no to these brutal jobs after that, whether I had another job lined up or not.  Incredibly long work hours take a toll on our health.  I don’t regret any of the jobs I’ve said no to over the years.  The wonderful thing about freelancing is that there’s usually a better job right around the corner.

  1. Taking off to travel the world.

What’s the use of being a freelancer if you don’t use your down time to have fun?  Whenever I’ve had a block of time off, I’ve gone travelling.  I’m glad I did, because some of the places I’ve travelled to are now off limits.  There’s more to life than work.

Hopefully, you’re finding the best way to safely navigate through your own career in these challenging times.  Remember, as a freelancer, even the worst job is never permanent.  But knowing when to move on can boost your career, as well as your sanity.

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