The Wild Wild West: We're All Freelancers

If you've been working in film for any number of years, especially the last 5 to 10, the subtitle of this post, "We're All Freelancers," probably seems obvious in the extreme. However, I'm thinking beyond just film and media. The very definition of career has changed.

We've mostly reconciled ourselves to the concept that no longer will people work for the same company till they retire, or that it's likely that anyone will work in the same type of job or industry for more than a few years. I'm not quite sure we've come to understand that a career will no longer be a series of promotions, in which once you've proven you're proficient at job X, you move up into management.

No, career is now an ever changing, ever evolving set of skill sets learned, refined, and re-purposed ever a few years. Then, as folks move on, they learn new skills, refine those, and again find new uses for said skills. Even for those who still work in "management", they too will have to continuously return to the well and make sure their skill sets are current.

A good  friend described our current climate (for filmmaking) as The Wild Wild West and I think that more than fits across the board. Of the folks I know who are most successful, they've been roaming from job to job the last few years, doing PA work here, AD work there, Producing somewhere else. For those who have specific skills, it's been a bit easier to find their niches.

One of the reasons I'm so big on Atlanta's media and film industry is not only because I want to see it thrive, but because I think it's uniquely poised to create the models and templates that can be applied to other industries.

For the last 20 to 30 years, we've been holding on to the antiquated notion that for our economy to thrive, we have to make stuff. Cars, mattresses, houses, etc. Those days passed us around about the mid 1970s and it's a shame that a phrase like creative culture receded before some of its ideas took root. We're beyond a service economy, we're in an evolution economy.

The sooner we start to realize that we're all freelancers, and that we'll not only be on a continuous job hunt, but that we all need to have an always learning mentality, the more quickly we can move on to defining how exactly our economy is going to function in the 21st century. From there, we can create better, more targeted educational programs, and from there, we can design policy that will be a true catalyst for jobs and growth and not just vote bait.