I’ve been giving a lot of thought to quitting my pursuit of all things film-related. This thought has occupied my mind for quite some time now; this isn’t something that just suddenly hit me. I would say the thought has been there for at least two years now, maybe more than that. Before, this thought was bred from the realization that long hours on a film set can be exhausting mentally, emotionally, and physically, and are especially difficult for someone who deals with a chronic condition on top of that — for the record, I have Crohn’s disease.
Twelve hour shoots are hell for a guy like me, because at some point my body will turn on me, and to be quite honest one bad bathroom trip is enough to wipe me out completely. I also hate having to use the restroom anywhere other than in private at my own home. A lot of times, I just can’t bring myself to go unless it’s a total emergency. It doesn’t happen to me very often, but when it does it’s pretty rough for me on several levels…but I feel like I’m getting off-track.
There’s a lot I love about filmmaking: writing a screenplay, turning it into a shooting script, assembling the film crew, pooling and finding equipment and resources, casting the characters, securing locations, rehearsing and interacting with the actors, filming the scenes, having someone else much more skilled then myself piece together the footage and sweeten the audio into a finished product, and then showing off said finished product to whoever wants to see it.
There’s a lot I hate about filmmaking, too: having to overcome writer’s block, redrafting and cutting a script down, having to forge a schedule from desperate schedule coordination between crew and talent, having a crew member or talent tell me “I have to leave at __:__ AM/PM because ______ came up” or “Hey, I won’t be able to be there until __:__ AM/PM because ______ happened to me,” trying to achieve as much on-set filming perfection as possible while adhering to a strict shooting schedule that will no doubt go over time no matter how frantic a pace I might attempt to keep, waiting with nervously baited breath and prayers that my editor can make something awesome from the footage we managed to capture, and the nervousness that always hits right as you commence to share your work with an audience — it truly is like standing in front of the world completely naked awaiting judgment.
No matter how well a project may go, I no doubt wind up inevitably worn out and wanting nothing more than to go into seclusion, which I typically do. I can’t help but be as hands-on as I possibly can be; I write, I direct, and if need be I act. It’s just the way I am. Why wait around for a screenplay when I can write one myself? Why have someone else direct what I wrote when all they’re going to do is pique my brain to determine what I was picturing when I wrote a scene? If I can’t find someone to play a role or have an actor drop out of a role, and I feel like I can play the part myself, why the hell not? I don’t directly hate or dislike these things; on the contrary, I love them very much. However, they take a lot of energy to do if you wish to do them at a quality level, and for a long time I’ve been searching within myself to determine if I have the energy and desire to keep on doing this, whether it be as a serious career or even just as a hobby for fun.
I definitely felt myself start to drift away from film when Amanda and I got reacquainted, and eventually fell in love with one another. Her reintroduction into my life, the larger role she took within it, brought my personal life a level of joy it never had before, and all I wanted to do was spend my time with her. Everything else became secondary; Amanda was my main priority and goal, and most everything else, admittedly, obligations to get through just to get back to her. I’m proud to say it’s still that way now over a year and a half into our relationship, and on a much stronger level at that.
So much has changed in my life through 2013 into 2014, and all because she and I found out we were having a baby boy. Ryder Scott Hayes is due to arrive May 3rd, although he could arrive earlier or later than that, and we are super excited about that. With the help of my friend Noah, I got on with a well-known bank as a student loan collector (I’m not revealing the name here because they have rules about social network discussions about them, etc…although I have them prominently listed via my Facebook, but I go out of my way not to talk about them much on there). It’s been great working there for them. The pay is good, and they offer good health benefits, and in today’s economy good jobs are very hard to come by. I’m very fortunate they hired me, especially since my background was not a finance or collections background whatsoever. Honestly, it does kind of suck I’m not putting any of the skills and expertise I acquired in college to use right now, but I’m in no position to go through an unpaid internship, nor would I really want to at this point in time. I swear, I go back and forth with myself over whether NKU’s Electronic Media and Broadcasting left me with any practical skills or knowledge I didn’t already have myself, aside from learning how to screenwrite, do basic video editing, and set up lights without blowing up light bulbs…but that is a rant for another post.
My life circumstances have drastically changed, and I’m in no way, shape, or form the same person who started into college hoping to do something in the film industry. I still have lingering hopes of maybe getting into print or broadcast news, either as a writer or preferably as an on-screen reporter or anchor, but in all honesty now that I’m out of college I don’t quite know how to get my foot in the door.
All I really know is that film isn’t a sure thing at all, and being an expectant father I’m no longer in a position to pursue risky bets or traverse uncertain avenues. Fatherhood, at least from my perspective, closes — or should close — a lot of those doors. Has that been difficult for me to come to terms with? As a 24-year-old male, yes, it has been, but if I have any hope of doing this fatherhood thing right, I need to make sure I’m spending all of my time wisely and only pursuing opportunities where the pay-off is beneficial and certain.
It’s funny how life seems to work, however. There is one major thing keeping me from completely writing off film, and that is Ryder. My son, whose arrival is drawing close, is the element in the equation that causes my hesitation to give it up. I see an elementary-age Ryder at his school’s career day, and his inquisitive face along with all the other little faces staring at me as they wait for me to explain what it is I do for a living. I just don’t see them, or him for that matter, being all that excited or thrilled about a guy who works at a financial institution’s call center, who is tasked with calling people who owe on student loans and trying to collect money. I just don’t see my current job giving Ryder that much capacity to cultivate pride in what it is his father does. Don’t get me wrong, the job is great for me right now and I don’t have any complaints about it, but even the writer within me can’t make that job sound as exciting as filmmaking, or working in news…or just being a writer in general.
So, I guess there still is a restlessness in me regarding my current occupation and position in life. I’m trying to view where I am now as a means to another end; where that may wind up being, I don’t really know as of yet, but I’m hoping I can eventually transition into a job that makes more of a difference, that caters much more to my skill-sets and strengths, a job where the pay and benefits match up to the expectations in my dreams, the kind of job a dad can have that a son can be proud of.