I am a full time documentary producer and I am brand new.
As of a few weeks ago I worked a regular 8:30 to 5:15 p.m. job. There was corporate bureaucracy, fancy suits, impressive buildings: the whole envelope.
For a bit, I imagined myself a student of the structure. I was there to learn about corporate America, about business, about finance. It didn’t take long for the creative synapses in my brain to begin to melt under the pressure of the searing normality of the place. I didn’t feel like I fit in, and I didn’t know how long I could last.
Then, hope started to percolate. I had been working with Christopher Cook on a documentary series on the side. We began dreaming about a gig where I would get to be full time documentarian. So for a whole year there was hope that I would eventually leave.
Then three months ago I got the call I had been waiting for. A foundation was ready to sign a check and fund a national documentary series about the American Dream. The news through the earpiece of my little black flip phone was as unreal. Though Christopher speaks very clearly, I had to double back in our conversation to confirm that my ears weren’t bugged.
The wait, it seemed, was over. I could leave corporate dystopia for full-time in a creative, culture-building career.
Later I told my wife. She was about as nonchalant as possible though I was scared stiff to tell her I was leaving traditional job security for a pipe dream. She calmly told me it sounded like a good opportunity with plenty of potential. Then she congratulated me. That was all pretty great.
Three months later I was still working at the bank. I would wake up daily, don my suit, then sit at a coffeeshop and pound out an hour of work for the documentary for which we still had not gotten a contract. Lunch would come, I would flip my laptop open again for another 45 minutes of documentary work. Though three months prior I had received that glorious freeing phone call, it turns out that contracts take a long time to create. The foundation who would be funding our documentary work wasn’t backing down or recanting their original bid to fund our work. It just takes time, I learned. Every day I would hope to get a call or e-mail saying that the contract had been signed and that I could put in my two week’s notice. The wait was agonizing.
Four weeks ago I left the bank and started working as a documentary producer full time. It was awesome, unreal, and a little unnerving. Awesome: because, building a documentary series about the opportunity landscape of America is meaningful work. Unreal: because it’s a dream job. Unnerving: because this is going to take some getting used to.