In which I ramble about Freelancing....

Hey there!  I revamped my website  In doing so realized I might actually have something intelligent to contribute to the internet every once in a while. So, here's my attempt at a blog.  It'll likely be work related, but some times not.  I won't always write in complete sentences, and I lack creativity in sentence structure (sorry to my sister, who is an editor).  I am not consistent in tense, semi-colon usage, or comma placement. This may be meandering and non-sensical, but here goes…

I was having a discussion with a friend this past weekend about the trials and tribulations of freelance work; How it is both a blessing and a curse.  He had mentioned that he was also starting a blog, and I totally stole the topic.  Freelancing in NYC is one of those things that I never intended to do.  It hadn't really occurred to me until I was going into grad school. I had always wanted to work in regional theater, and it seemed like working in NYC was the only way to work outside of NYC.  It's a love/hate relationship with the lifestyle.  The schedule and the relationships are the two things that I find the most frustrating and rewarding.

The schedule:
I get to set my own schedule, to a degree.  For example, I haven't gone home for Thanksgiving in a few years.  This year, I was able to schedule my projects around the idea that I'd be going home. So I get to spend an entire 5 days with family and friends at home.  Large holidays are great to be able to schedule in advance. The day to day stuff is where it gets tricky. I have to plan my week according to when I'm in meetings, how to get between meetings, when I have time to prepare for those meetings, so on and so forth.  It's a daunting task, and I rarely schedule time for myself in there. Whenever I can, I schedule a Saturday morning so that I can visit the farmers market down the street before heading into work. It's a simple ritual that makes me feel like a responsible, well rounded person.  I'm able to get out from behind a computer for just a few minutes, walk around the neighborhood and do a little bit of mental planning for the week ahead. Sometimes, I don't always get the chance to do so, but more often than not, I will likely schedule a meeting later in the day on Saturday, simply to have that morning and peace of mind.

The flip side of this of course, is that I don't set my own schedule.  My entire livelihood depends on schedule of any given project.  I live from show to show, gig to gig.  Some months that means that I am working on four in-depth projects at once, and some times that means that I am on a new project daily for a few weeks. There are some jobs that you prepare for thinking that you'll be exhausted and insanely busy for two weeks solid, then it turns out you're done after 8 days and no work for the rest of the week.  There days where the only time to meet someone is 9 am, then you have 3 hours to dilly dally before the next meeting or rehearsal. Usually I end up shoe shopping, thus negating what little money I may have made on that day…

Quick and fast friendships:
Professional relationships are a strange thing when you're freelancing.  Friendships and business relationships can be made or be broken very quickly.  And there isn't really a line drawn between the two. Often, the entire experience lasts no more than 6 weeks.  The speed of the production process has a profound affect on the relationships built during these times.  You, and your relationship to your colleagues is very quickly defined, put to the test. The process of mounting a production is much like a difficult hike up a mountain.  Either you're all in it together, and support each other along the way.  Or it's a solitary, uphill battle and you only discover that you're not alone once you reach the top. This process typically starts with many, many emails, and a handful of in person meetings, and culminating in a 1-2 week technical process that requires lengthy days in close quarters, in stressful and emotional circumstances. How you react and interact under pressure is one of the defining factors in how you and your colleagues move on from the process.

As a self-proclaimed, socially awkward person, I have a hard time getting to know people in such a short period of time.  It usually takes me several weeks of getting to know a person before I can truly interact with them and not feel like an ugly duckling.  I over think, over react, and then over analyze the hell out of every experience and interaction.  Usually by the time I feel comfortable around a group of people, the show is open and I likely won't see them until the next project years later. This can make it incredibly difficult to create last bonds in our business.  

Granted, this is not always the case.  There are some experiences that are the complete and total opposite, which turn out to be there best, however rare they are.  For example, the very first show I ever designed after moving to NYC was given me one of my most treasured friendships.  This director and I  met for coffee before a production meeting (I don't remember the meeting at all, just the coffee beforehand) and after a 15 minute conversation, he simply stated "I trust you, you're good people." The relationship that has come out of that tiny show is one that I look forward to having for many years to come.  

Our business is one that is fleeting and ephemeral (arguably, the best part).  It requires in intense amount of concentration on body of work for a relatively short period of time. A single project that be all consuming in terms of amount of time spent on it, but also in terms of mental horse power that is devoted to it.  More often than not, the projects that seem to be entirely different experiences have strange threads that relate to each other.  I've had shows were two entirely difference levels of production, one Shakespeare, one a modern play set in the 1970's, and both directors referenced the same Lou Reed song on the same day of rehearsals. It's a strange existence, because it means that everything is very present in your life, for a short amount of time, and then you move on entirely.


There are many other reasons to love and hate the freelancing life (taxes, travel, health care, or lack there of), but in the end.  I wouldn't really change it for anything.  I can't imagine sitting at a desk all day, every day.  I get to run around one of the greatest cities in the world, playing theater, and calling it a job.