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Feast or famine freelance Filmmaking

By Jake Harness

Photography by Jake Harness

I was speaking with my mentor Gabe Tolliver a few days ago about working in film after graduating from film school in the current climate that the film industry is in. This was when Tolliver spoke on freelancing as a filmmaker as being “Feast or Famine.”
As most of us wait for the film industry to return to “normal” (whatever that means) many of us have to rely on doing the occasional odd job or gig to survive. Of course, I’ve continued to shoot music videos and projects that I deeply care about, but I’ve also started taking on work that’s more corporate— for example, I just started working at a company that specializes in product photography. It isn’t exactly “filmmaking” but it’s a way to make money while still being somewhat creative.
I’ve also launched a website:
Where you can view all of my work and reach out to me about shooting/directing videos, so if you’re an artist or brand hit me up!
Tolliver’s mindset of Feast or Famine is simple. Either everything is great— or it isn’t. Originally the conversation took the angle of it being a bad thing, but as we continued to talk it kind of pivoted to being a positive experience. Whether you’re a filmmaker, a musician, or really any kind of artist— you need to have period of time where there’s a level of uncertainty. I think it’s the universes way of weeding out who’s serious about the craft. Without pain there is no progress.

I then took this conversation to other independent artists. As an artist there’s an unspoken expectation that your dream isn’t going to be your career— at least not for a very long time. From what I’ve observed and experienced throughout my life, you have the day job to fund the dream. I have also run into a lot of people who almost seem to take shame in the fact that they aren’t able to live completely off of the art that they make, I get it, but I don’t agree. I think there’s zero shame in doing what you have to do in order to survive as a creative. At the end of the day, you’re sharpening your blade and adding tools to your tool belt, the only shame should be when you give up on the dream.
If I had to give any piece of advice for this kind of thing, I would say to find a job where you have control of the hours. Your time is important, especially as an artist. Until you get the steady cash flow doing what you want you should take up a gig styled job like ride sharing or food delivery apps (if a normal 9-5 job isn’t your style.) This way you get to control your time, energy, and passion. There are several artists, especially musicians I know, who fund their entire album rollouts through this type of income.

Moral or the story, just like Feast or Famine, we have the need to survive— as do most things. So, if you’re scared about the film industry or the music industry or any creative industry in general, don’t worry— this too shall pass and like anything else, it’ll be alright.
Only the fool believes that their dreams have expiration dates.

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