Never Not Working

It’s an incredible way of life, but…

… if you are hoping to be a full time filmmaker, I hope that by reading this blog it will give you a bit of an insight in to the reality of what this job truly involves.

It’s not meant to discourage you, but instead prepare you for what’s ahead.

And it can all be summarised by three words…

Never Not Working.

For the last four years as a media professional I’ve been working freelance and when people say ‘oh that must be amazing’, I always respond…

“It’s the best job in the world, but it’s also the worst job in the world”

Let me explain…

Oh and before I go any further, I don’t in any way truly believe that it’s the worst job in the world. In reality there are far worse ways to earn a living and there are working situations that are truly terrible. Filmmaking is not even close to being one of them.

Being freelance you are incredibly blessed to be able to be in full control of your career. You can work whatever hours you like, you have unlimited holiday and full autonomy over how you spend your working day.

Amazing right?

Yes and No.

Being freelance, the buck stops with you.

You can’t clock off at 5pm if the works not done.

You can’t leave it to someone else to finish that big project, you’ve got to stay up and keep working until it’s done.

And most importantly, you’ve got to go out and find people who are going to pay you to make videos for them.

You’re not on a salary, just showing up in the morning and spending 8 hours at your desk doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to pay the bills.

Even in times when you do decide to step away and take a break, your mind never truly stops working and going over new ideas or plans you have for your business.

But as Gary Vaynerchuk says “If you have the audacity to want to live life on your terms, you better not complain and you better work your f***ing face off!”

I’ve Paraphrased that quote above and it’s an amalgam of Gary’s thoughts. I know I mention him every blog, but he will truly help you more than my content will.

Although a lot of us in the industry might use this “never not working” mantra as a badge of honour, in recent months I’ve learned that although it’s a very easy lifestyle to slip in to, maybe it’s not the most effective.

I’m currently finishing up a project that is the piece of work I’m most proud of to date, (not least because I got to collaborate on it with my unbelievably talented friend Ben Marlow. His Instagram is @benmarlow ).

We only had 8 hours to film it and just over a day to edit it, and although we wanted far more time, these deadlines meant we needed to be laser focused and unquestionably productive to get the best result.

And perhaps unsurprisingly this intense level of focus meant the project turned out way better than many others that don’t have such time restraints.

I hope this is the main takeaway from this article for aspiring young filmmakers. It’s tempting to work all the time but maybe not the best option.

Although if you do want to be successful sometimes you’re going to need to be prepared to work all the time. As I’m writing this it’s 11pm at night before this blog’s posting day…

…it’s got to get done.

My intuition and experience says that doing things you don’t want to do but know you need to, is a key part to success in this industry. I’ll cover that more in depth in a future blog.

So remember if you’re never not working, maybe you need to focus on being more productive.

I wish you every success.


I’m currently reading Gary Vaynerchuk’s new book “Crushing It’”, it’s a great one! Check it out here…

Jack Tompkins