When I landed a job in the feature film industry 15 years ago, I thought I had won the lottery. Growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas I never imagined that was a career I could actually have. I worked on big budget film sets with hundreds of people, special effects and movie stars. However, as glamorous and exciting as this industry sounds, the hours are grueling and my job was all about logistics and budgeting and massive amounts of stress.
So at the beginning of 2016, after wrapping a production so exhausting and stressful that I lost my voice for an entire week, I decided to take a step back.
I knew I needed to reexamine my career path before the stress did me in.
I am a freelancer, and I said no to a few projects, as scary as that was, and I decided to plan a big solo trip to gain some perspective. (Insert Eat, Pray, Love jokes here.)
I did a lot of wandering, I’m not going to lie.
A lot of wandering and not figuring anything out. I knew I loved filmmaking. I love stories and the thoughtful process of how to tell them in a compelling way. I love creating beautiful images that make you feel something. But the business of filmmaking ruined all of that for me. After six weeks in Southeast Asia, I didn't feel like I had gained any perspective on anything. "Where ever you go, there you are." Right?
Luckily, this was around the time that I discovered an organization called Escape the City.
Their ethos is: Life is Short. Do work that matters to you.
They offer programs, interesting job opportunities, and inspiration to help you find or create work you love. The idea of a structured program to help me figure out my next steps was so appealing to me. Plus at this point most of my friends thought I had lost my mind and I was desperate for some allies!
Through several of the exercises we did in the Escape program I realized I was already doing work that I loved, but the content wasn't meaningful to me. I wanted to figure out how to use my skills to make a positive impact on the world and not make money for big studios.
I needed to shift my focus.
I decided to teach myself how to do what I had spent the last 15 years hiring others to do. I invested in some camera equipment and took an online editing course. I honed my new skills by filming my experience with the Escape the City program.
It turns out, when you are working on something you really care about, it doesn't feel like work at all!
You can view the full video here.
In March 2017, I launched Do Good Films. It is a full service production company. The focus is on creating video and films with positive impact for nonprofits and social enterprises. So far I have had the opportunity to work with organizations in New York, Ghana, Vietnam and soon Kenya.
If you run a non-profit organization or social enterprise and are in need of professional video for your website, fundraising campaign, or social media presence, I would love to talk to you!
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am also very committed to the same ethos that Escape the City ascribes to: Life is Short. Do work that matters to you. I would be happy to talk more about my experience and would love to hear about yours in the comments!
To find out more about Escape the City, go to www.escapethecity.org