When the Going Gets Tough…

In the end, when I tried to draw the line between what I was and was not willing to do, it was too late: “no” was not an answer they were willing to take.

There was a moment recently where I sat in Starbucks with a friend in the film business, my head in my hands, telling her that one more day in this industry might kill me.

Let’s be honest—too much of any career will make a person feel that way at moments. If you love what you do, those moments will be few and far between. But there are times when you need to step back from your job and enjoy your off-hours life.

For the last year, I have been freelancing in marketing and design, online media copywriting, and social media consultancy. The majority of my recent projects have been in small-scale film, all for small, privately-owned production companies. On top of this, I recently landed a full-time job at a non-profit organization where I spend my nine-to-five. Needless to say, I run on a lot of coffee, very little sleep, and the slightly-more-than-occasional convenience of fast food (guilty).

Some projects I had been involved in put me on edge to the point where I was biting my nails every time I logged onto my email or answered the phone. Questions ranged from asking if a huge edit could be made in a project by the end of the day to if I could take on a task that would fall more under the category of a personal assistant—for example, finding a carpenter for a director’s home improvement project. I received emails at one in the morning and calls in the middle of my full-time work hours. I started thinking there was no way I could handle the stress of doing everything and that freelancing in film was nothing more than a hassle.

After I was done venting to my friend (one very strong macchiato later), I ordered a second cup and sat down to discuss a solution. I discovered that, as much as it was hard to admit, the stress that had been on my shoulders had been 95% my own fault (so painful to write).

The potholes along the way that I had tripped over seemed totally avoidable after a rational talk and cheesecake brownie. I was told once that when it comes to my job, I’m a people-pleaser. Although I should never stop wanting to make my clients happy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I should kill myself over every project or sell myself short. For example, I’d be happy to design a new concept two-thirds of the way through a project, but we will need to talk about a reasonable time frame and an additional cost before I even open up my software.

On top of that, I also needed to understand when to say no. At one of the smaller production companies I worked with, I had been asked a few times to do tasks that a personal assistant would do. At the time, I was really fresh to the world of freelancing. I really needed the project, and I thought that the request was normal since it was a small business run by a husband and wife. But after reflecting on it, by saying yes, I only opened the door to being asked to do these tasks more often. In the end, when I tried to draw the line between what I was and was not willing to do, it was too late: “no” was not an answer they were willing to take.

In the end, I’m still freelancing. I love marketing, and I love it even more when I have the opportunity to pair it with film. Taking a step back from a really stressful situation and learning from my mistakes helped me return to my projects with a refreshed attitude, feeling stronger and more confident about moving forward. This industry will put anyone in a tough spot from time to time, but with some perseverance, reasonable thinking, and an outlook adjustment on the situation, you’ll get through it just fine.

Justina Cerra

Justina Cerra

After graduating from college with a degree in communication, I knew I had the opportunity to build any career I wanted. For so long I thought I’d pursue higher education administration, but at the last minute I decided to follow the stars all the way from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles in search of a career in the entertainment industry.

Now, I’m doing marketing at a film production company for their upcoming documentary. The team is small and everyone wears many hats, which is an ideal situation to be in when you want to experience as much as possible! I’m also freelancing in various media platforms, and every day I’m learning something new about how to stand out from the crowd in this fast-paced industry. I’m excited to share what I learn through The Media Chronicles!
Justina Cerra

Justina Cerra

After graduating from college with a degree in communication, I knew I had the opportunity to build any career I wanted. For so long I thought I’d pursue higher education administration, but at the last minute I decided to follow the stars all the way from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles in search of a career in the entertainment industry. Now, I’m doing marketing at a film production company for their upcoming documentary. The team is small and everyone wears many hats, which is an ideal situation to be in when you want to experience as much as possible! I’m also freelancing in various media platforms, and every day I’m learning something new about how to stand out from the crowd in this fast-paced industry. I’m excited to share what I learn through The Media Chronicles!

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