This past weekend I attended an event called the Central Texas Film Conference where a bunch of people involved in the film and TV industry came to offer advice as well as their own personal experiences with breaking into this particular line of work. It was really interesting to hear about everyone's journey and how even when they experienced a time in their lives that could've been defined as the lowest of the low, the sense of fulfillment they got from acting or writing was what helped them decide to never give up.
One of the most common questions they spoke about always getting was, "How do you get your foot in the door?" To this they all basically answered, "Put it there yourself. Better yet, break down the door. Sitting around and waiting for the phone to ring is one of the worst things you can do." Living in a day in age where everything is so accessible and convenient, it's sometimes up to us to create our own opportunities. Even if we are constantly being told that we're naive for choosing to pursue a career in the arts, it's up to us to explain that the rationality isn't at all what drives us; it's the happiness we get from doing something we love. Yes, as cliche as that sounds and as much as we know happiness doesn't pay the bills, we know that as long as we have opportunities to follow a career that lets us inspire others and express ourselves, that's all that matters. That's our definition of truly living.
An alumni who acted as a moderator for the panel mentioned that even though acting alone was sometimes not enough to pay the bills and he had all kinds of other jobs on the side, the fact that he could still support his acting habits after many, many years was all that mattered. This made me think about what is often left out of the conversation when people talk about pursuing a career in the arts. What people don't understand sometimes is that by being part of the group that wants to be actors, musicians, photographers, writers, artists, etc., we know and are prepared for what challenges lie ahead. We aren't blindly going in and expecting everything to be easy. We know that we may not find success the first time, or the second, or even the third. We're prepared to fall on our faces over and over again and each time get right back up. I believe it's what makes us a special group of people. Our willingness to see this passion through regardless of the outcome makes us the kind of people who see risks are opportunities to grow and get better at our craft.
As one of the producers mentioned, "life in film and theater isn't a sprint, it's a marathon," and by keeping this in mind, the determination one has should never subside. Pursuing a passion that has been stigmatized as being very uncertain and hard to find success in often forces us to ask ourselves whether or not it will be worth it in the end. The truth is that if the answer was no, we would've moved on a long time ago. The fact that the answer is yes shows just how much the arts give back to us. The amount of overwhelming satisfaction one gets from this kind of passion shows just how much we're willing to sacrifice for it to remain a part of us for the rest of our lives.