"Ever since they found out that Lassie was a boy, the public has believed the worst about Hollywood."—Groucho Marx
The following are the answers I received to the question, To you, what is the worst thing about working in this business?
• "The insecurity of not knowing what tomorrow will bring. You can have a tremendous success one day, but then worry about what's next—when you'll be able to practice your craft again."
• "The politics. Because art is so intangible, this industry becomes fertile ground for untalented people, egotism, selfishness and backstabbing. It's the most disheartening and frustrating part of the business."
• "This is a business of such ups and downs—when you're down, you feel as if you've fallen off the earth!"
• "The competitiveness, rejection, instability, feast or famine factor and feeling as if you're riding on a razor blade."
• "The number of hoops and obstacles (i.e., money, politics, etc.) that stand between your initial intention/vision and its final execution. The need for vigilance is huge."
• "It's difficult to have a 'normal' life, especially to keep a family life. Long absences from spouse, children, family and friends are very common, and the 'location lifestyle' is dangerous for marriages and sobriety. Even in town, the long hours and total immersion in work can destroy families or at least make parenting very difficult."
• "Network interference—the lack of creative freedom afforded writers, producers and directors."
• "How truly hard it is to get a film made, and the fact that many well-written screenplays never see the light of day."
• "Dealing with people who forget to leave their egos at the door. People get very attached and emotional. Life is too short. It's a movie for God's sake—not life or death. We're providing fun and entertainment and sometimes forget to have fun in the process."
• "The brutal hours we're expected to work is the absolute worst followed by insane screaming directors and penny-pinching producers."
• "It's the 24/7 responsibilities that have to be carried through regardless of circumstances, language and cultural barriers... the bureaucracy."
• "Dealing with big egos ... not just from the executives, but also from their assistants."
• "The politics and the B.S. If I had wanted to go into politics, I would live in D.C.!"
• "Dealing with unreasonable people who can't make up their minds and act like spoiled children."
• "Rejection. If you aren't good at accepting rejection, this business is not for you."
• "Age discrimination. We all face times when no one seems to want us, and that's tough. Even if I had all the money I could ever need, not working would still be awful because it means I'm not doing what I love to do."
• "The lack of vision or concern for more substantial entertainment programming."
• "How my life is not under my own control. It's subject to the whims of unions, politics, silly actors ... oh yes, and did I mention the hours?"
• "Nepotism. You're not always competing based on skills. Also, the plethora of producers and executives who don't understand how a production really works, only how to put the financing together."
• "The worn down feeling you get when you've been under constant stress and the immediate urgency of everything!"
• "Runaway production—the lack of work for the workers who make the films and series."
• "The worst is the fact that when I turned 50, nobody wanted to hire me anymore. Doctors practice into their 70s, lawyers even longer. Some of our statesmen are nearing 100. What's wrong here?"
• "I don't like the short fuse some people have, because as it is, we're always dealing with stress and pressure."
• "The business is very cliquish—like in high school, and sometimes I actually feel that I'm dealing with people on the emotional level of a high schooler."
• "Dealing with people who lie to you: 'Yes, I've got the money,' 'Yes, the actor can read it' (when the actor's never even seen it), etc."
• "The delays—how long everything takes."
• "The amount of energy spent versus the payback. If you're looking for some external (praise, raise, respect) as a result of the time you put in, then you're in for some sad times.
• "Learning the ropes of who is who, who does what and who is related to who is tough and rough. Once you learn it, it doesn't get easier, but at least you know where the mines are and how to step around them."
• "The worst aspect is working on a project and having non-creative people (you can read that as 'executives' who think they're creative geniuses) demanding changes that go completely against the continuity of the project. Many times they want to make changes only so they can stroke their own egos. The battles and fights are worth it if the project survives and stays true to the creative vision; but sometimes, decisions are made that make you want to remove your name from the credits."
It's interesting that four different people I surveyed had the same answers to both questions. They each said that the best and worst part of being in this business is the people!
You'll note that the contrast between the answers to both questions clearly highlight the overwhelming ups and extreme downs of working in the industry: it's great but frustrating, exciting but scary, fun but tough. You'll also notice that the same answer can be expressed in different ways; some simply put and others, profoundly worded. You should remember the comments that resonate the most and use them to help you evaluate your own choices.
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