Have a break, have a job
July 21, 2014
As a would-be creative, 2014 has been something of a departure for me so far. Whereas 12 months ago I was a combination of self-employed and rolling-ly contracted, I find myself for the first time in my life, properly employed.
I’ve worked in community arts more or less since the day I left university 5 years ago: mostly for a fantastic company based in Yorkshire who do life changing things, helping others to access arts in a way they could never have done. I also worked for myself, doing anything that was asked of me, but mainly making music videos for Leeds-based bands and artists. These two sides of my work life complimented each other fantastically and I loved both the work I did for myself and for other people. But I began to get to a point where I stopped being useful the whole time I was working.
I was offered the chance to work 9-to-5 making educational films. At first, I didn’t even consider the idea. I felt like I’d be giving up on both the community artists and volunteers I had loved working with, and on my own side projects. But as I came to the conclusion that I was maybe putting less effort in to some of my work, I had a change of heart. The job sounded like the perfect opportunity to have no option but to make films all day, every day, and being as I am – someone with limited motivation (at best) – it suddenly seemed extremely inviting. With a heavy heart I finished my work in community arts, put my personal work on hold and took an office job, admittedly an office job with half the week out filming, but a job with a desk with my name on it nonetheless.
Since I started in October I’ve made over 60 short films, from 30 seconds to five minutes long. The more I’ve sat here and worked on a huge range of films, the better I’ve become. The more writing, filming and editing I’ve had to cram in to a small amount of time, the stronger and tighter my skills have felt. It’s only looking back that I realise what happened to me to feel like I needed the change; I’d ceased to be creatively useful. Working in community arts is extraordinary and I would recommend it to anyone, but I wonder if I had run to the end of my skills and abilities. And if you feel like that, how could you possibly work as a mentor, workshop leader or creative guru to anyone else? Not that I’d imagine I have ever been considered a guru…
Regardless, the last 9 months have been topping me up. I know how to work better and smarter, how to create things more interestingly, and how to be a much, much better team worker. I’m not suggesting for a second that some 9-to-5 office-based work is the answer to struggling creatively. But for me, the pressure of being made to create content on a daily basis and to work collaboratively in a more business-oriented mind-set than ever before, has really recharged me. I’m just about to start working on my own projects again, and I couldn’t be more excited.