Where do I go from here?
I am overwhelmed with anxiety and I feel utterly useless.
I have been searching for edit gigs (I am a video editor) through friends/collegues and production-job websites, and nothing is panning out. The post house I was editing at went under seven months ago, so I am now working two days a week doing work that is routine and not challenging. On top of this I am sinking into debt.
I question how I am supposed to make a living doing what I do. Work opportunities appear so illusory. I have had offers turn into nothing, or I am told be patient we will have something soon, or more frequently I do not get a response back (this is understandable when applying for jobs without a formal contact - still though, it's been seven months...).
I feel that I have an overwhelming amount of anger toward the fact that I put so much into what I do, and I am a very professional, talented, and capable young man - but nothing is happening. So I am demoralized, defeated, and resentful towards myself for my failure to get back on my feet.
So this leads to my question: If you have been in my shoes before, or can at least relate, what did you do to get out of a situation like this? I am by no means a veteran in my industry - I have been editing for two and half years. I have a website with my work. What else do I have to do to get myself noticed in NYC?
Don't feel bad about yourself. It's happening to a lot of us. I have had numerous, long term jobs go away due to budget cuts. And, seasoned veterens like me and a whole bunch of other pros have to contend with the younger people coming in and offering to do work for next to no money. You "no" the type. No experience. No employees. No insurance. no overhead. No nuthin.
Anyone jumping into this business right now, thinking that they're going to make tons of money, is in for a very rude awakening. If I didn't have 25 years worth of clients and connections, I would be having a major problem. Luckily, most of our client's have a certain level of quality that they must maintain or they will lose market share.
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If editing is what you want to do, you cannot let a mere 7 months defeat you. When I was in my late 20's, I had worked for a couple of companies and had about 5 years experience. My dad passed away and left the kids a little money. It wasn't a huge sum, but I was young and wanted to travel and do a few things before I wasn't free enough or able enough.
I left my job and took 6 months off and had fun...thinking naively that I would easily be able to get a job when I was ready. Well...think again. I had a decent reel, was well-thought of in the town I lived, and more times than not, if I could get an interview for a job I was qualified for, I would get offers.
Not this time. I went over a year with almost NO interviews. Twice companies called me to set-up interviews, then called a few days later to cancel saying they had filled the position from within. Talk about being demoralized and angry. Being a stupid 27 year old I wrote them both letters telling them how unprofessional it was to schedule an interview with a prospective employee then cancel it. Of course, they probably just chuckled at those.
During that time I had to go back to waiting tables to make ends meet. That really hurt, especially when friends and colleagues would come in and end up in my section...always asking me, "what are you doing waiting tables?"
At one point, an old college friend called me with an offer to interview as the director of a small town's Economic Development Office. It was a town of about 25,000 but had a lot of industry and manufacturing because of it's location in the state. I interviewed and they offered me the job at a very nice salary. I was tempted but turned them down because I wanted to work in video production. My college friend thought I was nuts. The job had nice perks like a company car, travel expenses, entertainment expenses, lots of fun things like golf outings to woo prospective companies etc.
Eventually about 4 months later I took a job with a new Independent TV station as a promotions producer making $6/hour. You read that right. I had to continue waiting tables at night and weekends to pay bills.
The job sucked, but it got me back into the industry. About a year later I got a job at a production company in Louisville and nearly tripled my salary. After that, it got much easier...although I experienced another bump like that later when I spent 3 years making grant-supported independent films. After getting the two films finished (one of them won an emmy), it took me about 6 months to find a full-time job...again with a TV station. While I was looking that time I thought, "I have an Emmy..." people will be calling me to come work for them. Again...very stupid.
But after working at the TV station for four yearsI was able to move on to an advertising agency and eventually start my own business. That was 13 1/2 years ago and I haven't looked back.
But I certainly remember wondering both times I was out of work if I just didn't have the skills to succeed in this industry. My only advice is to do what you have to do to survive financially, even if it means taking a job outside your field working nights or weekends. But do not give up the job search if you enjoy this work and aspire to do it as your career.
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Like in Chris' story, you just have to keep trying and if you have to take a crap job to make ends meet you have to take a crap job to make ends meet all the while keeping your eyes on the prize. My first stint in LA was a complete disaster. I had to move back to Indiana w/my tail between my legs, completely broke, living off my credit cards and working a Blockbuster. Not what I had in mind when I moved to LA 9 months earlier. ;) But when I left LA I made a deal w/myself that I'd be back in two years and I was. No matter how bad it got (did I mention I qualified for food stamps at one point in time) I always kept in mind that everything I did were steps towards my greater goal of being an editor in LA.
I went through about 3 years of suck before things turned around. You just got to stay focused, stay relaxed (if you get freaked out it will show and no one wants to hire someone who is freaked out and/or desperate), and keep plugging away. Even if that means taking unglamorous jobs to pay the bills. It can't rain all the time, brother. :)
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A scary statistic I came across: the kids in high school today can look forward to holding an average of five or more different careers during their productive lifetime. I didn't say five JOBS. I said five completely different CAREERS. This is really completely different from my own life or my father's life: though dad worked for many companies, doing different things, they were all related to his core career. Something to think about.
But assuming you just won't be happy unless you make TV of some sort for a living, the first thing I think about is, New York and LA are VERY large ponds and way overstocked with talent. Even the very experienced and high-level people in the field are struggling there. Would you consider relocating to somewhere where the competition is less? You could also expand your ideas of where video is used and useful: there is a LOT of corporate work to do, a lot of medical, a lot of governmental and non-profit outfits that need video, there's educational markets too.
That job the other poster, Chris I think it was, turned down, the local government development job... I bet you that position could have been leveraged to produce, shoot, and edit promo videos to encourage business development, explain city planning, etc. as part of it's function. The work is where you find it, but also where you MAKE it. If you think of yourself more as a person who delivers communications solutions to problems, then a whole additional level of opportunities to apply those skills opens up to you. I hope that doesn't sound like a pat answer. I am SO glad I'm not in your shoes right now. But even if you have a steady gig, it is always smart to have in mind a "plan B". I think in today's market situation, if you want to succeed it is more about creating your job than finding one to apply for or compete against others to win.
Best of luck, let us know what pans out.
While your response was directed toward Evan, I think it was a very thoughtful and intelligent answer and one with which I totally agree. I think most of us are finding the phone not ringing as often lately so what can we do to go out and create work?
There is so much work out there if you are the kind of person who can present yourself as a communications solution, not a video producer. Everyone needs to communicate effectively and few have the skills to do so but you need to broaden your horizons as far as your definition of communication. Perhaps its web video, Keynote shows, (Heaven forbid!) PowerPoint shows, live presentations, media coaching, writing, editing workshops, training corporate media departments, etc. There is a lot more to it than videotaping and editing and if you are stuck in that mindset, the world is passing you by.
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I think this topic comes up from time to time, but it often wears different clothes. Communications solution provider versus specific job description.
Evan, it sounds as though you are an editor. It is your passion. Now, take a look beyond the concept of "just" editing video. Editors are first and foremost storytellers. You are someone who is skilled at taking something as vague as an outline, or as specific as a script with storyboards, and making it into a compelling visual story.
Dan and others are right on the money. In this economy, you may have better chances of getting a job in the industry that uses your skills as a storyteller than specifically as an editor.
Many of us have examples of ways we've applied skills learned in video production to other jobs, even other industries, before we've found our way back to what we love. You'll have a story like that soon, too. Maybe you find something editing shorts for live corporate events, maybe editing for web distribution. You might even find something that you like better than editing! (OK, maybe not, but you have to admit it's a possibility!)
We empathize with your struggle right now, but it sounds like you have what it takes to look a little outside the box, and find yourself doing something different, but that still uses your passion and skills for visual storytelling.
We wish you the best.
Find ways that your skills
I agree with Jay. My job, for example, is mostly project management. When I, as PM, assign production tasks to myself, those might include video editing, producing (broad term), doing some creative work (brochures, layout, website design) you name it. Downtime is a good time to keep your skills up to date as well.
Recessions are always a good time to go (back) to school as well...
Be diverse and be everywhere.
If you expand your talent, you double and triple your opportunities. Move into other areas such as special effects or audio production. Chances are if you focus on these new talents as you have focused on your current talent, you'll do great. Don't see yourself as a stationary lake but as a vast ocean that touches many, many shores of options.
Work the web. You mentioned looking at production job work sites, well unfortunately you and thousands of others are doing the same thing. Getting on linkedin, youtube, vimeo, bliptv, facebook, twitter, everywhere you can have a presence, is key. There are millions of clients out there, literally, millions of clients. Worldwide. If you look only within your local radius you are getting a fraction of potential opportunities. Positioning yourself as an expert, here on the cow, on your blog and other places is also a good bet for attracting future clients.
I would also produce content, often. A podcast show, training tutorials, creative projects, etc..and then get it out to every part of your network. Virtually you'll start to get a random passer-by, then a few more, then a crowd will form, then clients will follow, then demand will kick in. But you need to be producing. Kind of like a painter. Painters don't go around telling everyone they are a talented and don't have any buyers. They paint. And paint. And paint.
And remember this is show business. Most creative artists having a hard time don't lack creative skills, they lack business skills. So read every marketing and business book you can.
And don't listen to people complaining about the "down economy"...the creative arts business is one of the sectors that is booming, and the people doing really good are the people who are constantly reinventing themselves, hustling while others are sitting around worrying, working the virtual networks and web every which way they can, producing content that attracts an audience and envisioning success. Some roads are longer and some paths appear you may not expect, but the key with every journey is to keep moving.
Franklin McMahon / Host
Creative Cow Podcast Page /
Creative Cow Podcast in iTunes /
I would like thank everyone who responded to my post. All of your answers are thoughtful and insightful, and certainly give me bearing on how I need to approach using my skills and talent, and having the mettle to keep at it when the market is not so hot.
[Franklin McMahon] "If you expand your talent, you double and triple your opportunities. Move into other areas such as special effects or audio production. Chances are if you focus on these new talents as you have focused on your current talent, you'll do great. Don't see yourself as a stationary lake but as a vast ocean that touches many, many shores of options"
Bingo!!! I'm deathly slow right now. New jobs are trickling in but ever so slowly. So here's what I'm doing along with the occasional slack off day.
- Learning motion graphics
- Upping my still photography skills and developing a portfolio
- Redoing my reel
- Redoing my website
- Back doing contract event teching
- Started a new performing duo to help make ends meet
- Doing pro bono work for non profits who need and deserve it
Oh, and did I mention marketing. It is tough right now for a lot of us. But keeping busy, upping the skills, and doing whatever it takes to stay positive is key.
Higher Ground Media