How To Step Away From Production Assisting Finally!
We all have goals and dreams for things we might like to do with our careers. For me, it’s directing, but we never start off in that role there are ladders we must climb to get there. When we remain on one rung for so long, feeling comfortable and confident with how it feels, what does it take for us to move onto the next?
You might have seen on our Facebook page that I recently worked on a web series project, Whirld, as Production Manager. It was the first time I have been given a plethora of responsibilities and a title to match. I wasn’t an assistant anymore, I HAD assistants and for the first time in a long time, it felt as though I was making progress in my film career. But after assisting on things for so long how did I know I was ready to take on this much responsibility?
In order to potentially spark some recognition within some of you or even inspire you to accept or go for that next film opportunity, I thought I would unpack the growth I experienced in myself through taking on this role and break it down into the factors signalling to me that I was ready.
Fear Of Missing Out
Fear is a big part of why we might not do something. I for one suffer from anxieties particularly when it comes to things I really care about, like filmmaking. But for some reason this time the fear compelled me to say yes and not no. This is when I realised that sometimes fear can be a good indicator that you are actually ready for something. If the fear is making you scared of what will happen if you aren’t a part of the action then it’s probably the same kind of fear I would attribute to something like FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Now I’m not a psychologist, obviously, and if you feel really uncomfortable about something you shouldn’t put yourself in a position where you will be miserable. But I believe there is a difference between the fear that is warning you against something and the fear that is telling you that if you don’t you will regret it. Both can be a good sign that some form of action should be taken and in my case, it was saying yes to being Production Manager.
You Know More Than You Think
Part of recognising this fear as the good kind is acknowledging that you know more than you think you do. I spoke about this in my tips for gaining confidence as a new filmmaker and I certainly used it in this case. Whilst pitching myself to be a part of the project I listed off a lot of the experience I had and in doing so it affirmed for me that I do in fact know my way around a production. When we get comfortable doing the same role over and over it may feel unnatural to change. There is comfort in knowing you can do a job versus thinking you can but honestly how will you really know until you try? There are some skills that are within us that we don’t realise we have until they get a chance to be used. I would say the one I discovered on this shoot was leadership, which is comforting considering my dream job is Director.
Just Own It
This leads me to my next point. Even if the experience you have doesn’t quite cover everything you’ll need to do in the new role just take command of it anyway. Worrying that you won’t be able to do the job is not going to make other people confident you can do it either. If there are gaps in your knowledge or you need a little bit of help, just own it. I walked into each production meeting and day on set like I knew what was going on and what I was doing. As Production Manager, I was the person people came to if they had a question. Normally I would be panicking about this because that responsibility means that I would need to have all the answers. The reality is that I didn’t need to have all the answers just the initiative to find them. Taking command of the role, whatever it may be, means that people will trust you and when working on a set nothing is more important than trust.
In conclusion, the only way to know if you’re ready to take the next step on the ladder towards your ideal film set job is when you know you’re ready. The key takeaway from this experience for me was that we shouldn’t hold ourselves back because we think we might not know everything there is to know about a role. Chances are the opportunity you get to work higher up than you have before will be in a crew of people that are giving you that chance because they like and trust you already. So listen to the fear, own it, you know more than you think you do and go get ’em!
To check out the progress on the web series I worked on, WHIRLD, follow the links below