I've spent most of 2017 on other people's sets, which has been an incredible learning experience. I get to watch how other shows and other showrunners organize their productions, coordinate their teams, and make their projects come to life. It also means I get to meet tons of new and interesting people, and one of my favorite conversations to have is about day jobs.
Listen- we're indie filmmakers. Almost none of us are actually making rent by making our projects, so it'salways interesting to hear opinions about what the best day jobs for part time filmmakers are. For the first season of Brains, my show, I was an assistant manager at a coffee shop, which was good because I opened the store and thus was available earlier in the day on weekdays to film, but was bad because while I was at work, I couldn't do any producing work like respond to emails, make schedules and call sheets, or deal with problems. For my second season, I had an office job, which was great because I was always at a computer and able to do a lot of the organizing and producing for the show while at work, but bad because my schedule was suddenly much less flexible and I could only film on weekends. While I definitely preferred the office job, there were pros and cons to both.
This in mind, I did what I do best: asked Twitter and our creator community for opinions. Here's what I learned:
Note: some of these answers are edited slightly for clarity, because articles don't have 140 character limits.
"I'm tech support/general manager/personal assistant to the owner of a small business, so I have some pretty solid flexibility because I'm on my computer a lot and do a lot of work from home. There's a lot of downtime between steps in work projects, so I can fill those gaps with my creative work. On the general day-to-day that gives me time to write, work on pre-production paperwork, and manage social media accounts. I've been able to utilize my workplace as a location, which has been nice. If I'm in production on something, that's usually my two week "vacation" for the year. The downside is, if we're trying to push forward on a big work project, my job uses many of the same skills as filmmaking does, so that means I'm probably creatively jammed until that project is finished." -Karyn
"I luckily work at a small television network, in a largely entry-level position, but I am at least privy to backdoor conversations...it helps for understanding the mindset of the television industry (especially in Canada)" Anonymous
"Stagehand. Invaluable lessons!" -Audrey
"I'm lucky enough that as an actor I don't work production as much but my job knows what I'm pursuing and have been very supportive of it...it'sa simple call center for a towing company, everyone there is just super supportive and I got a great team supporting me and my dream." Santos
"I am a photographer for a big corporation and I get sent all over the country and world to cover corporate events, and also do studio photos for catalogs. I get stressed out cuz it can be demanding and it takes me away from my life that I want to be doing, but maybe it also gives me a drive too cuz I constantly feel like I'm playing catch up... It can't be totally bad. My job gives me money to flush into my show so I don't think it totally hurts, I work with cameras and have to know tons of softwares for work so that's probably good, and maybe traveling around gives me some perspective on things." -Jonathan
"Well, I work for a bank... it'scall center work and it pays well so it actually helps my productions since no production is cheap lol... It definitely gets in the way of filming just because I HAVE to work Monday thru Friday, and can mostly only film on weekends. But it helps me learn to be more patient haha. That has been useful on set." -Cliff
"I had no filmmaking experience when I set out to make my web series... I was a prose writer with an idea for a show without the technical know-how to make it happen. Then, it occurred to me that I worked with people who had the creative and technical skill sets to bring the show to life, one of whom had an impressive personal cache of equipment. If it weren't for my job, I wouldn't have been able to make the show.
Also, working for an event-based non-profit, I enjoy more flexibility, especially during the off-season, to spend more time on writing and other projects.
Having said that, my job prevents me, as my day job has done since I started my career, from spending most of my time writing and working on creative projects. I have a weird love-hate thing with my job since it allowed me to make the show, but it prevents me from doing what I love.
Also, as I've gotten further along my career, I realize that my day job (PR) has given me skills that have helped my writing, and now filmmaking, endeavors. Promoting yourself and your projects, as much as a lot of artist, writers, filmmakers and other creative types hate hearing, is crucial to creating a life where you can make a living off of those passion projects.
I think a lot of creative people who have day jobs they resent may not realize that they are developing skills or meeting people who can help them with those passion projects.
All those years I thought I was wasting my time when I could've been writing, I was developing skills that would ultimately help my writing career and meeting people who would help me create a show." -Pablo