Putting my wand away

Since I decided to step away from my 80+ hour a week production job, I’ve had to spend a lot of time figuring out how to market myself and my skills. It’s actually incredibly difficult to translate what working as a Production Manager has really meant, though I gave a good swing at it in my previous posting, Whats it like working in reality tv. One thing that is a little bit easier to disseminate is the skills I picked up along the way. By far, I think my greatest skill lies in the thing that I see so often lacking in professions I encounter on a daily basis, and that is foresight.

The beauty/curse of working in an industry where people can toss around literally any idea in the world – “We need to figure out how to get cell service on that mountain in the middle of nowhere” or “We picture them on a deep sea diving date looking for actual pirate treasure, so let’s find a place like that and figure out how to shoot it,” is that I am usually the one in charge of the actual figuring. And boy, did I get good at it. I like to say that I can become an expert on just about anything in less than a day. The key element to making this magic happen is having no shame. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tracked people and businesses down from Google and said “I know this sounds a little bit crazy but I have no clue how to do this so can you help me or do you know somebody who can?” I was always incredibly surprised how helpful perfect strangers can be.

Of course, there were many times when due to the workload and limited access to the idea makers, you are only given pieces of instruction, usually in the form of a an incredibly ambiguous email. These are the moments when you feel like you have fallen off a cruise ship and despite standing right next to the rescue tubes, people keep throwing down pieces of wood, expecting you to be able to build your own boat. Early on in my career, I would flail – doing exactly what was being asked of me, even when I knew something about it seemed really off. Later on in my career, I figured out that the best way to stay ahead of these things was to set up shop on the nearest life raft the second I stepped foot onto the cruise ship.  I began to insert myself early on into matters that didn’t necessarily concern me yet, but this is where I would learn about who these idea makers were, what they hoped to accomplish, their timetables and their style of getting things done. That way, not only could I think inside and outside the box, I could see the whole piece of paper the box was drawn on. I loved being a few steps ahead, and just for a small amount of effort, it was a total win-win for everyone.

I once hired a woman who ran her own live event business to be my coordinator for a few weeks on a show. She told me she didn’t know how I managed to keep it all together because there was so much more going on then she would have ever anticipated. I was sort of shocked and delighted to hear this compliment coming from someone who has headed up large scale parades. I really thought that once I left LA, I would have a world of opportunity, I would be able to test the waters in a few different fields until I found something I liked.

One cross-country move and thousands of resume submissions later, I can tell you -this has not been the case. Only once I dulled my resume down to a more cookie cutter look and downplayed my television past did I even get a few calls. It’s sort of sad, but now I know that I must hide my wand – my ability to make magic and the thing I spent 10 grueling years working tirelessly to perfect. It feels like the death of an era for me. But hopefully, one day down the road I just might find the right reason to dust that wand off again.

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