Another friend just gave up on reality television and moved into a more stable profession… and I can’t blame her.
I’ve always loved reality television, but it has its pitfalls… one of which is the unpredictability of employment.
Case in point… I recently wrapped an incredible gig on a show that was pulled from production not because of its quality, but because the new network president opted to go another direction with programming. Many shows in production, not just ours, were unceremoniously ditched, and the hell of it was — it’s just one of those things that happens. No bad guy in the scenario, just business.
I’ve always hated that line on the back of my book cover that says something about getting in, getting real, and maybe even getting rich. It can be done, but it takes a long time and a lot of hard work to get there. That’s why the focus of my book is on craft, and not the sexier, dreamier prospect of creating shows.
It takes years to make it in L.A. or New York — and those places aren’t cheap. You can’t reward yourself too early, because you could always end up in a situation like I did last year and not land somewhere for months after 14 years of wall-to-wall work on countless hits… and as much as I try to practice what I preach when in comes to being financially conservative, six months at home is an unexpected sock in the guts to pretty much ANYONE with no notice.
New to this? Save your money. Have a roommate… the kind that pays in cash instead of excuses. Don’t try to be a baller, because no one cares if you drive a 1991 Nissan except you. There’s a major studio head out here driving a Subaru Outback, and I spent two and a half years on the train/bus in LA before replacing my dead Buick with a ten year old Jetta. I’d been working 11 years before I finally bought a “nice” car, and frankly, it’s sometimes the most expensive one in the parking garage. You can bet I think about that stuff during my dry spells.
Remember how you used to feel when you had a few hundred bucks in the bank after paying the bills? Imagine having tens or hundreds of thousands fifteen or twenty years into a career. Remember how you felt when you were a few hundred in the hole at the end of the month, sweating a thirty dollar overdraft fee? Now try feeling that way with 20 grand in credit card debt after watching your savings atrophy because the work dried up.
Those are the times you think about finding something else. My friend saw that exit from show business life and jumped at it. Me, I’m a single guy. I can stay at the craps table and keep rolling. I’ll be up again tomorrow on some other smash hit, feeling like the world is my oyster, because I live to tell stories and teach the next generation how it’s done. It’s all a never-ending gamble that could end with me selling a company for tens or hundreds of millions… or as a kindly old greeter at a big box store.
Do this… do anything… because you love it.