One of the visiting speakers in my class this week told us to “be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” in reference to her work as a commercial and film producer. She had done it all, from slogging through difficult shoots to scrounging to find a horse at the last minute for a commercial. Her message to us was that we learn to become familiar with the unfamiliar, and to exercise calm when confronted with stress.
I don’t want to worry anyone with this post, but I couldn’t agree with her more. The truth is that if you want to work in this industry, you have to be a particular kind of crazy. Again, I want to avoid scaring anyone or bad-mouthing this industry, but it only takes a little looking to see what the business is like. It’s fast. It’s capricious. And most importantly, it’s fun. I have learned that in order to have all the fun that comes with working in the entertainment industry, you have to remain at least somewhat grounded in reality. And you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. In a way, you have to make a new type of a comfort zone, a comfort atmosphere, if you will. Because you will most likely be leaving your comfort zone almost daily.
This message comes from recent experience with my own LA internship. Last week, one of my supervisors, the assistant to my actual boss, left for another job. This left me and one of the other interns to shoulder a substantially increased amount of responsibilities. I went from sitting comfortably, sipping coffee, and digging into a fresh script one day, to performing more or less as an assistant the next day. Granted I had the requisite level of training to cover phones and handle my boss’s schedule. But the first day as an assistant was nerve-wracking, mostly because it was the first time that I felt part of the system. Before coming out to LA I would sit in movie theaters, or in coffee shops reading Variety, musing at how films developed. During my internship I sit in the same room with a producer listening as he ushers a script through the development process.
I have the lucky position of rarely having to make coffee runs or pick up drying cleaning or any of those numerous interny things that you hear your friends complaining about sometimes. Most of my assignments involve answering a phone or making an appointment. This is not to say that I am never nervous, nor that I am without flaw. We all mess up, which is part of taking on a new responsibilities and new knowledge. So, the most important thing I have learned is to be okay with that level of uncertainty. To embrace what I do not know and find the willingness to change that. The LA Semester has been instrumental in helping me achieve that confidence.