It's 23:39 and I have to be up in a little over six hours to go and shoot. Nothing new there but I've been itching to get this off my chest for a while now and there's no time like the present apparently, even if it does leave you with a lack of sleep...
It's a tough decision for most. Being your own boss has a lot of benefits but it also comes with great responsibility. Some choose the route whilst others have little option to do anything else for varying reasons. I'm a big fan of the freelance world and day by day more and more people make the 'jump'. I'm not going to give you a list of pros and cons as I, nor anybody else can make that decision for you. To help you see life on the flip side though, here's a few of my experiences that may help you out.
I awoke way too early than I had planned but at 6am, half-riddled with manflu and with 4hrs to do something with, I decided to do some work. As you may or may not be aware, I shoot timelapse sequences as my day job (and most of the night job on occasion) and this equates to around 60% of my waking hours on average. What people don't see is the hours I put in to edit these sequences, the time I spend writing blogs, expanding social media following, paperwork, building kit, packing kit, replacing kit, cleaning kit... you get the idea. There's a whole circus of operations that run in the background along with all the 'business' side of things to take care of but I wouldn't swap it for anything else in the world, apart from maybe a trip to Mars or another dimension.
So, with four extra unplanned hours I got to work investigating new areas of timelapse and searching for new clients to reach out to. I wouldn't say I need any more clients per se, what I'm searching for is new avenues of creativity and collaboration to expand my knowledge base.
I had a meeting at 11am and in order to get there, I needed to leave at 10am. Just as I was about to leave the house, I get a phonecall asking for a quote for a shoot. I didn't want to be late for my meeting as it was a big client, but I also didn't want to delay any potential quote as for whatever reason, unless a shoot is timelapse specific, it's often an afterthought and very last minute when I get called in for a job! Dilemma 1 was put very quickly to rest and I arranged to send a quote over at some point in the afternoon.
During my meeting, my phone kept silently harassing me in my pocket with various emails, one of which involved a very last minute trip to Barcelona for two days, in two day's time. I found a spare five minutes in the meeting and nipped out to make the call, discussed costs, travel times etc and from the general way the shoot was being talked about, it seemed like a goer. Time to re-think my weekend as I'd planned on a trip to see the old folks for a couple of days but they understand my love of travel and support me beyond fully!
Fast-forward to the end of the meeting and it was agreed that we should meet again on Friday at 10am. In a blind panic, and without checking my diary I said yes, thinking for some reason that was ok. The pressure of five top film execs often does send you into a blind panic when they say 10am and start nodding their heads. You find yourself nodding as well and before you know it you've said yes.
Driving back home I then realised I'd agreed to help out a good mate of mine with some camera tests he's doing on Friday, at 9am. It's voluntary but he's spread the good timelapse gospel around for me plenty of times so Bro's before Film Execs (or however the saying goes) as he'd already re-arranged the test, twice, to fit in with my often corrupt schedule. Luckily, a quick email rectified my original error and all was sorted, for now.
Arriving home at 2pm, I took a further three calls asking me to shoot over the weekend which I had to decline because of Barcelona and then settled in to answer a myriad of emails - some for work, some I didn't have time for (yes, the two people who contacted me to ask which slider I would recommend and 'which is the best camera for timelapse?' - sorry, but there's a whole world of information available and how do you think I found out?!) and some requests from a Nigerian Prince who wanted to transfer vast sums of money into my account.
By 4pm I'd sent all the emails and quotes I needed to and decided it was time for some lunch / dinner. Just as I sat down to eat, my phone rang and the Barcelona trip was not going to happen as it was all a bit too last minute. Bizarre that they'd called me last minute but that's life sometimes as a freelancer and I'm sure my parents will be glad of a visit! I gave up telling my parents long ago of my potential work plans as in the Tv and Film industry, things can change direction as often as a gazelle being chased by it's hunter...
The trip to Germany
Around ten years ago, before my journey into timelapse, me and my colleague were booked for a shoot in Germany, Frankfurt if I remember rightly. We had a huge Jimmy Jib so it was a drive to the ferry at Dover then a drive to the location - around a 10hr drive. We left early, arrived at Dover to catch the ferry and whilst waiting to board, got the old cancellation call so headed back to the office. About 30 miles away from the office, we got another call to say the shoot was back on and having wasted about 5hrs already and cancelled the ferry, we headed back to Dover and then on to Frankfurt.
Tv is never this disorganised normally but plans often do change. This was the extreme and I've not seen it since but it certainly keeps you on your toes! Shooting timelapse for most part is weather dependant so in order to keep everything running smoothly, you have to adapt to your environment, whatever your chosen career path. This not only keeps you up to date with new skills but also gives you an understanding of time management. A little digression there, so...
Back to Today
Having consumed 400 calories of Marks and Spencer's finest salads (I'm on a diet, it's working, I'm ok, more on that in around 6 months when I'm beach body ready etc) I set about sorting my kit out for the shoot today - yep - it's now 1:05am but I rarely need more than 5hrs sleep for some reason beyond my control. With all the kit prepped, I took an hour to chill out and it was 9pm. I got back to work on a separate project which is currently top secret as it's taken me over two years to build and having spent two hours doing that and nearly two hours typing all this dribble, we're currently back up to speed.
I've always, as far back as I can remember been full of energy. As a child my favourite saying was 'I'm bored' apparently but it probably wasn't boredom, it was more a build up of excess energy! 5hrs sleep is the norm for me, sometimes a little more and sometimes less so a career in timelapse fits the bill perfectly. Yes I sometimes moan but it's never normally related to my paid hobby, it's normally a cover for something else.
The point I'm trying to get across here is that a 19hr day of work is what I do to achieve the things I want to achieve. I know freelancers that work for 6 months a year and take 6 months off but I couldn't do that as I'd miss my hobby too much! I definitely seem to have a problem in some people's eyes, maybe even some sort of twisted addiction to time, but as long as I'm happy, I'll never stop. Sure there's ups and downs but that's life and I'm a firm believer in the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.
If you're looking to chase your dreams and become a freelance anything, make that decision now or you'll be waiting the rest of your life for the 'perfect' opportunity as something will always crop up. Broke? Work your 9-5, eat, then work on your future from 6 to 1am. You'll be tired, but once you've climbed that first mountain, your journey has begun.
As always, thank you for reading and if you feel like you've gained anything from this at all, want more, or have a deep hatred of me for whatever reason, follow me at one of the Social Media sites below and express your feelings of love, hatred or sexual tension and I'll get back to you as soon as possible or alternatively, scroll down to leave your comments and questions.