3 Things I Pondered:
- What did it take to get you where you are?
- What sacrifices did you make?
- What are you thankful for on your journey?
I normally follow the rule of not fighting with strangers on the internet. The night I am writing this I had a mother respond to me 3 star review of FSU Film School by saying that my main reason for not succeeding in the film industry was passion. I don’t think this person has the knowledge to make such a claim and I felt the need to write this post to explain what I went through when I moved to Los Angeles for an unpaid internship.
To start with the concept of leaving college was not something I was prepared for. In film school you are told the first day that you shouldn’t have a job while going to school. This alone is ludicrous. How are you to pay for school? They expect you to take out student loans or have your parents pay for it all. That’s fine and good unless you come from a single family how with a widow foreign mother unable to pay for your fantasy of trying to make it in the film world.
When I moved to Los Angeles I got an internship and started to do a side hustle while working 40 hours a week tutoring people how to use computers. It wasn’t enough to make rent or even pay for food or my student loans and mounted credit car debt. I had a breakdown and when I was in the hospital my mother literally took me and said you are moving back home with me in Chicago. I was in a super fragile state. I couldn’t understand why my classmates got to get these awesome internships while I suffered to pay for my own bills and work 40 hours for free.
I moved to Chicago with my mom and stayed on a cot in her bedroom for over a year. I worked two jobs at the airport to make enough money to move to South Florida. I did not really have a day off from work except for one day which I went to my internship at that point. The part that was interesting about it was that I was told by my professor that if I did not do an unpaid internship in film I would have to pay back my student loans and that I would owe a ton of money. I thought to myself great. I can’t afford to work for free and now I can’t afford to not work for free. So I did a bunch of video jockey and advertising stuff for a non-toxic art gallery int he Pilsen area of Chicago. It was super weird but super awesome and I really appreciate that somebody allowed me to intern with them enough of once a week so I could avoid getting into more financial trouble.
During this time I had to sell all of my belongings to be able to afford to pay of the debt I incurred while finishing my degree at FSU. Prior to FSU I worked full time at Apple for close to two years and went to a community college where I paid for everything on my own. I lived in a studio apartment in Boca Raton and busted my butt to volunteer at FSU film sets, attend college full time and work full time.
When I was in Chicago, I didn’t have a room or a car. I was grateful for my mom to give me a bed to sleep on even if it was in the small section of her room. I am forever grateful that she took me out of the absurd situation I was in and brought me to reality. Living the film industry wasn’t out of a lack of passion it was out of survival. I saved enough money from working two jobs to move to Florida where I bought a cash car and once again tried to do an internship in the sports television industry.
I was living with a roommate who was emotionally abusive and my job ended up firing me for forgetting the stupid on call cellphone. One time issue immediately fired. The job didn’t pay much it was $300 a month and I was working 40 plus hours plus on call. It was at that time that I had to find a job. I ended up working at a soap store and then eventually got a job as a credit analyst that taught me all the stuff about finances that I had no idea about. I moved out of the abusive roommate’s house and moved into a friend’s studio apartment at his rental property. It was nice to live on my own.
Getting fired from that job was a blessing. $300 a month isn’t enough for anything including the car insurance or gas to get to and from work. I had bought a cash car so that wasn’t a car note payment however that amount is laughable. I’m not even sure how internships are legal.
My friend ended up moving and I knew it was time for me to buy my own place. I literally moved so much from where I was. I started at the bottom and worked myself up. Everything I had I worked for in some manner. To say that somebody is not passionate enough without knowing their story is so naive and idiotic.
My current day job is selling cars. Did I want to grow up to be a car sales person? No, I don’t even care about cars. I do care about other people and helping those who need it and I can proudly say that my hard work has paid for my film equipment and all of my musical instruments and even cassettes to do mixtapes.
None of this would have been possible if I didn’t have passion. If I wasn’t passionate about what I do then I wouldn’t have gotten back up and tried again. Not all plans are the same. I did not have the same cards dealt that some of my classmates did. My mother wasn’t able to provide me with money to work for free in Los Angeles. She was able to provide me with empathy skills, work ethic, and a bed for me to get where I am today. For that I am forever grateful.
I was not a privileged graduate. I did have a lot of opportunities that some other people might have had. I am grateful for what I had. My success is self defined. I am very successful in different ways and continue to grow in my own brand and my own personal life.
That is all.