I’ll be starting a new job soon.
Well, in The Biz, you’re always starting a new job soon. On the flip side (and much more accurately), you’re also always about to be unemployed. Always.
[Be warned! This post contains swearing.]
There, the truth behind the curtain revealed! Most of the film industry – from the biggest actor to the lowliest production assistant (se moi) – operates on a contractual basis. Each show is its own enclosed project, and each player negotiates (or has an agent to negotiate) his or her terms of employment. Depending on the project, this means looking for work roughly every three to six months, or up to a year.
It is the eternal hustle. For the right person (read: crazy), the true measure of success is when you no longer hustle for the job, but when the job hustles for you. One day…
And with each new job comes the First Day.
I imagine the feeling of starting somewhere new is the same across all industries, not just mine. In my experience, the primary emotion is fear. Ultimately, fear of fucking up.
My First Day on a show, my heart was in my throat. I was terrified I was going to be late. I was nervous I wouldn’t know what do. I was scared I’d violate some rule I didn’t know and everyone would hate me and I would never work again and fail as a human being and live forever on my Dad’s couch.
I left the house at 3:00A. So it would have taken an act of God for me to be late. And as I got out of my car that early, early morning, after spending fifteen minutes gearing up with everything I might need in the event that anyone asked me for anything, I was more than scared. I was also keen on succeeding.
That First Day was the first day of the rest of my life. It was too important to let my fear get in the way. I was more hungry than I was afraid.
It’s what got me through that Day. And every Day since. Better than that, I got another job. And another. Even better, I started getting bigger jobs. And bigger ones. And yup, like all struggling artists, I lived off ramen noodles and out of my car for about a year, but I also made friends (and connections), and learned more about this crazy business, and about what I might want to do in it once my metaphorical dues are paid to the unsparing film gods.
Every time I start on a new show, I still have those fears. I still think that *this* time will be when I finally get exposed as a gigantic fraud and my career will be over. I’ve actually fucked up more than a few times. But at the end of the Day I can’t give in to all those feels!
IMHO, it’s okay to be nervous, anxious, or scared on the First Day. It’s like, what separates us from the animals, man. Because every First Day is an opportunity; a chance; the big break – to take names, to make plays, to show everyone who didn’t hire you why they should have, and why they shouldn’t make the same mistake in the future. Every First Day is the first day of the rest of your life.
And that first day of unemployment? Someone I know also calls it the first day of the rest of your life. This is also true.
Welcome to The Biz. May we never not have the First Day jitters.
Written for the Daily Prompt: First!