I mainly write about writing. Hopefully one day I’ll be writing about filming, but that’s for another day.

The reason I dedicate a lot of my time to my difficult to reach dreams is because opportunity rarely presents itself within the media industry. You can work and work and speak to countless ‘important’ people and you’ll still be left with little more than another low down job role on your CV. Don’t get me wrong, that’s great but after a while you start to wonder why these little things don’t add up to something bigger, more substantial and something long term. I fight to get my little films made because I’m not going to sit around while I struggle to even get a job making cups of tea.

I’m not ungrateful for the roles that I’ve had in the past on indie films and TV shows. In fact, I’ve been incredibly grateful to the people that have helped me get those chances and I’ve always (okay, most of the time) enjoyed the experience. I love being on set, I love the atmosphere, even if my only job is keeping drunken homeless people out of the back of shot, I relish being part of it. What I’m trying to say, or more what I think I’m trying to say, is that even though I enjoy these jobs, they aren’t glamorous, and they’re still incredibly hard to get.

Anyway, to the point.

An opportunity presented itself to me.

And a good one at that.

I’d be working on a popular TV show, driving around Europe for three months. Once again, it wasn’t glamorous, I was expecting it to be, I didn’t need it to be. What it was, was three months in close proximity with people that could potentially employ me again.

Basically, it was a way in.

Yet it would come at a cost. Not only was it three months abroad with little to no hope of visiting home, it landed right in the middle of my two week holiday and my brother’s stag do, which I happened to be planning.

So I had a dilemma. The chance that this job could, but not necessarily, lead to something more in the future vs personal experiences, one of which was ‘once in a lifetime’.

The interview went well, this plus the fact I was recommended meant I was in with a good shot of getting the job. I interview on the Friday and they’d let me know on the Monday.

A weekend of what if’s and could have been’s. I needed to have my answer ready for Monday should they offer me the job. I couldn’t, if offered, ask for more time to consider the opportunity.

So, I stressed.

It made me realise that, truly, when I thought about it, I didn’t really want that job. Not because it wasn’t a great opportunity, which it was, and not because I wouldn’t have enjoyed it, because I think I would have but because I knew how important the ‘personal’ experiences I would have missed would be. I’ve now had those experiences, I’ve been on my holiday and I’ve been on the stag do, and I can safely say I would have hugely regretted not having been there for those.

Did I get offered the job? Well, no in a word. But it wasn’t because of me or my abilities (for once), it was an insurance technicality because of my age. So, I stressed about a job I could never have gotten but might have turned down anyway.

Maybe that’s where I’m falling down, that I’m not willing to sacrifice all my personal happiness and experiences for these roles. Maybe employers can smell it. That isn’t to say I wouldn’t enjoy these jobs, and if I’d been offered that job at any other time I would have jumped at it, but because of when it was, I couldn’t have happily take it.

And I’m okay with that.

I’m okay with putting my personal happiness first. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop, because I love filmmaking. I wouldn’t have spent the last eight years of my life perusing it if I didn’t love it, if it wasn’t what I wanted to do. Filmmaking makes me happy, being on set makes me happy but there are things that make me happier, as cheesy at that sounds, and I’m okay with that.

What are your thoughts on taking opportunities that could effect your personal life? I’d love to hear what people think.

2 comments on “Opportunity”

  1. Eddy Gardiner

    Interesting post.

    I can certainly relate to the “Maybe employers can smell it” thing. In my personal experience, I’ve always struggled in the job market because I feel as if employers can tell I’m just not interested in being there. Since I was 13, the only thing I’ve wanted to do is write and get into the film industry. The logical part of my brain knows I have to earn money until I get there, but I think I’ve struggled in every job because a big part of me just doesn’t care – and doesn’t want to care. I’ve struggled with the question of whether that’s me being selfish or if it’s subtly a good thing because I’m so focused on achieving the life and career I want, and need.

    To get to your actual questions, well… I’ve never really had an opportunity with writing which would greatly impact my personal life, but it’s something I’ve thought about a lot because as far as I know, it might happen tomorrow. Certainly a tough one. I have a first child on the way next month (which I’m terrified about), so the only thing I can concentrate on right now is making sure she’s looked after and happy. But if I were to get a call tomorrow from some producer who’s interested in buying my script and wants to fly me to LA for a few days in November to discuss it…honestly, I have no idea what I’d do. It’s an opportunity which, on one level, I absolutely couldn’t turn down. I mean, how could I? That’s what I’ve been working towards for years. But how could I miss the birth or the first week of my daughter’s life?

    In fewer words, I don’t think it’s a question with a simple answer. It depends on the individual situation. And if that situation above transpires tomorrow, I’ll let you know!

    • Matt

      Thanks for your thoughts Eddy! It is a really tough one! My problems at the time seem quite small compared to what you might face if something came up around the birth of your daughter (congratulations by the way!)

      As you say, it’s not one you can judge really. I think it’s afterwards when, if something came about, you’d realise if you’d made the right decision or not. I think with things like this there would always be part of you that wanted to pick the other option, but as long as most of you is happy with the decision, I think that’s all you can hope for!
      Good luck with everything Eddy!

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