Contrary to what I'm telling you not to do, I spent several years feeling resentful and carrying a chip on my shoulder because I couldn't get into the DGA and become a union production manager. I had been a production coordinator for ages, having worked side by side with a production manager who not only taught me well but gave me a great deal of responsibility. I had been a staff production executive, supervising production managers on multiple company shows. I had done a couple of small shows as a nonunion production manager. And I had producers who wanted to hire me as their production manager on larger projects, but they couldn't, because I wasn't in the Guild. I had trained the sons of many producers and directors who miraculously found a way to get their kids into the DGA, but I never seemed to have enough hours to qualify. Again, another case of "life isn't fair."
Lamenting my situation over lunch one day with Phil Wylly, the production manager/producer and friend I had worked with for many years, Phil looked me in the eyes and said, "When you're through hitting your head against that brick wall, you can figure out how to pick yourself up and walk around to the other side."
Resentment isn't so easy to lose, but I've got to admit, Phil's advice has served me well. As soon as I let the shoulder chip fall by the wayside, my career started opening up in directions I had never even thought of before. I think my biggest revelation came when I knew that if I couldn't be successful as a production manager, then I would be successful at something else. And I have been! So if one path isn't working for you and you've reached that brick wall, don't waste too much time banging your head against it and getting all bruised up. Be willing to reinvent yourself. You don't have to get out of the business, just alter your course. Who knows, it could eventually lead you back to where you wanted to be to begin with, or you may decide you prefer being where the new path has taken you.
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