I am making no apologies but this blog post is one that is a bit more personal as I reflect back on the year that has just gone.
Tomorrow 26th August will be a whole year since my redundancy. I left TV land with a carrier bag of belongings had a few tears, after a few too many cocktails. For the record that’s probably three, as I am a light weight when it comes to drinking!
Whilst I was walking through Manchester City centre to the train station back to the Peak District, I started to worry what will I do now? This would have been the third redundancy in my working life and I know what follows is always a period of no or little work. To be fair I had worried for a whole month but the walk made it seem very real.
I am a people person, I like working with people and like working in a team. The demands over the four and half years or so had taken its toll on my social life. I had totally embraced the work culture of a person working in TV. The long hours, trying to keep on top the chores and personal admin in a few small hours on a rare day off. Living out of a suitcase and feeling totally exhausted. Part of this is my own fault, I am one of those people who loves working, I always have. I love my work and to be busy and after life changed completely five and bit years ago. My job became a place where I could be myself for a few hours and then when I switched roles within that organisation. I used it as a distraction for the loss. I really did throw myself whole heartedly at the work.
Now was going back to what I had before, a desk at home with a phone trying to create work for myself, the exact thing I could not face when I landed in Media City. Just me responsible for creating my own work not seeing a soul for days. My dear now ex- colleagues had no idea about how I felt when I arrived, I left my emotions at the car park and threw myself into prepping cameras. Only collecting that emotion on the way back home. What would happen, if I couldn’t find work and people to see everyday? In those four and half years, I had met so many many lovely people, talented and who shared a sense of purpose in creating content, who by their sheer kindness and friendliness gave me hope.
For a couple of weeks I watched rubbish TV, ran around the hills, edited showreels and went to bed in the afternoon. I wrote a website, started blogging more and started looking for work. Two weeks later I was making a film for Blackpool council, then a couple of other low key filming jobs and since then I really haven’t looked back. The work has ebbed and flowed and when it flows I feel so lucky. I did apply for a number of job roles but it didn’t work out.
I have been a creator of my own opportunties, I am thankful every single time I get a booking from whatever source. I have flown the drone for TV, for commercials, for a cinema release and also online content.
In the last year, I have learnt new skills and made mistakes, mistakes I made before to make sure it was a mistake the first time around. My work now predominately comes from my ability to plan, script, shoot and edit films and the drone is a sideline but also a skill I can use to create content. I am happy to work on projects that use one or all of those skills.
I have been reminded of the faith you have to have in your own skills to be my own champion when the chips are down. To be fair and professional when that client has decided he won’t pay or didn’t have the intention to pay anyway. There have been lows including a few months with little or no work. Two scary months in the spring where there was nothing on the horizon. No money coming in is quite scary to anyone with bills to pay.
I have reminded myself join with others on the journey of a solo creative life is really important, to not beat myself up about my excessive use of social media as it reminds me that there is a world outside. I don’t know if I will stay freelance / running my own company but for now I am just going with it. Now I have more time for myself and have seen family and friends a lot more and really feel life is a bit more balanced.
I still work hard but also know when to stop working and go for a walk, a run or just watch some TV. The house often gets cleaned and tidied properly and that makes me more creative and more motivated. To take breaks to look for inspiration be that business inspiration or motivation.
Two things I have done that have inspired me most was going to Shadow and Lights filmmakers conference in Brighton. I went to my first one when redundancy was on the horizon in July 2016 and then again in May 2017. To meet fellow filmmakers who are making amazing films and content for brands and corporates, gave me hope that a mix and match approach could work for me. Although most of the people I have met are in the South of England or based abroad, they have become part of my wider network and this has become a great supportive group to ask technical questions. The work of this group and the people inspire me.
The second thing I have done for business networking, I have been attending Freshwalks which is like business networking never seen before. To walk ten or so miles with fellow entrepreneurs whilst admiring the hills or getting stuck in bogs. The type of person who attends a Freshwalks hike tends to be a positive and driven person.
I have improved my fitness and finally got out into the beloved hills of the Peak District, I have bounced ideas about and been given further opportunities. I often think of it as a metaphor for business sometimes the terrain is up hill and hard and then it starts raining, and then your boots are giving you blisters to over come this you have to push yourself onwards and upwards to achieve the goal. Even if you are freelance and happy to work alone having a few trusty souls and suppliers around you can help you achieve that goal or get up that damn hill!
Thank you to those who have recommended me for jobs you know who you are, I really appreciate those recommends. Dinner and drinks on me when you are avaialble 😉
Thank you to Leonie Upton, John Morrissey, Tracey Higgins for a day filming for international women’s day and for friendship going forward from that mad day! I still don’t like being in front of the camera, but thank you for the film.
Massive thank you goes to Ben Cambridge editor extraordinaire and May Mulki who are my flight assistants thanks for being part of the drone journey!
To all my lovely ex-colleagues in TV land I really count you as friends these days. Now I have time for coffee let’s make arrangements. Also a huge thank you to my long suffering Mum and Dad who often ask “what the hell are you doing next?” But also show lots of support to my madcap ideas.
To my friends who don’t inhabit the world of work I do, thanks for waiting for four and half years of mad work hours to pass and it’s been great finally spending more time with you.
Thank you to Lens Flare TV for the opportunity to hire kit the latest kit, for excellent advice on camera and lenses. Inspirational work from them (do check out their website)
Thanks to the talented photographer Joolze Dymond being a small part of the 5311 Media journey it is full of cycles, laughter and cake. Thanks for respecting my request “please don’t photograph my face or get my bum in shot whist I am working!” Long may this association continue.
To the person that signed my redundancy paper work, deciding that the role I was doing no longer existed and sent me on my way, I thank you.
You know what I wouldn’t change this year of work. I thought I would have ended up temping in an office and it could not be further from the truth. Fingers crossed it continues to be positive. Life balance is nearly in reach.
Finally to the 17 clients for the projects this last 364 days…thank you for trusting me to fly a drone, hold a camera, to tell your stories and create films. I have made TV for Sky one, Sky Sports, BBC One and created online content as well as TV commercials, short form films for the web the list goes on. Honestly, I can’t believe how lucky I am.
Ha ha these BAFTA/ Oscar speeches just write themselves! 😉
AKA The Drone Lass