While some may romanticise the idea of exhausting hours washing dishes, imagining themselves as the plongeur in George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London, for me and many others it is the flame underneath that forces them to attempt anything that will help them to escape monotonous twelve to fourteen hour shifts.
Upon leaving film school I immediately went back to working in a kitchen in the town I went to university in, which was bearable for a period of time. However, once winter approached it quickly dawned on me that I would have to pick up the pace with my search for film work if I wanted to escape the unfulfilling hamster wheel of working long hours just to pay off debt and make rent.
After stints in Istanbul and Bristol, I returned to London where I began searching for film work, managing to go part-time in the kitchen and take on some freelance jobs as a camera assistant, camera operator, or runner.
Possibly the hardest thing for Gen Y to accept is that in sink or swim industries there is also the likely possibility of paddling the whole way through
But like many creatives who begin working in the industry they are interested in, it is easy to become heartbroken upon witnessing where art and corporate interest meet. Of course, you try to stop yourself and be appreciative, but it’s hard not to be put off, even for somebody who is passionate about film or art in general.
But that is just part of the grind, isn’t it? If it’s something you really want then you won’t be put off by the idea of years of making adverts. Many established filmmakers encourage aspiring filmmakers to do anything they can to get behind a camera, whether it is advertisements or making zero-budget short films on the side. Even my favourite filmmaker, Abbas Kiarostami, shot around 150 advertisements for Iranian television between 1962 and 1966 before he would go on to make critically acclaimed films Close-Up (1990), and Taste of Cherry (1997).
But it is important to remember that these less desirable forms of directing or getting behind a camera still need to be done with the intention of getting beyond them later somehow, taking with you the valuable skills learnt and applying them to a more creative endeavour.
Possibly the hardest thing for Gen Y to accept is that in sink or swim industries there is also the likely possibility of paddling the whole way through. Simply maintaining a steady role that sometimes caters to the idea of doing something creative but often walks on the other side of the line which is more corporate and constantly undermines artistic integrity.
But it is important that we are constantly chipping away at something, even if you have a job in the industry you want to go into. Be aware that this is not necessarily the end goal and therefore spare time should still be seen as an opportunity for escape to fulfil more creative endeavours. Still chipping away at something, not becoming complacent with being in the industry. But still to solely work a regular job is to eliminate the possibility, as for working in the industry it is important to remember why you are there. It is integral to keeping a vision alive that something is being done to pursue it.