Both the Gainfully Unemployed and Gainfully Employed are often at the behest of others when it comes to getting work done. We set time aside for a particular project, audition or gig, only to have to wait to prepare or do the job until a boss, co-worker, agent or producer provides the information we need to move forward. By the time the materials arrive, we may have to scramble to get the job done right, especially if others are involved and we have to coordinate schedules.
An extreme example: working as an extra for an HBO movie. We’d been told to dress very upscale. The hair and makeup people spent a couple of hours transforming us…my very curly hair had been flatironed smooth (no easy task) and was as glossy and flowy as a Sassoon commercial. Someone came to bring us to set, which was about a block away. He took one look at us, and said, in fact, we were supposed to be very downscale.
Everyone burst into action, opening garment bags and suitcases to see if we’d brought anything appropriate for that look. Most of us hadn’t. The hair person slathered some cream into my freshly done, perfectly beautiful hair to make it look greasy. We literally ran to the wardrobe truck. The wardrobe people glanced at us for size, then grabbed garments and threw to us that. We put them on while we ran to set. Whew.
Recently I did two short videos for a major brand and large ad agency. I received a couple of emails about when I’d get the scripts, but they never arrived. I got them the next morning when I arrived on set. Partly thanks to all of my improv training and partly because I’ve always been a quick study, this wasn’t a problem for me. But I heard the woman who was shooting after me saying she couldn’t learn all the copy in time.
The hurry up and wait process can lead to a lot of stress, especially for those of us who thrive on planning ahead. We get impatient and frustrated when we don’t have what we need to do our jobs, and then pressured to perform without as much preparation as we would have liked.
I’m learning to let this stress go, to calmly accept what I’m given when I get it so I can do my best. To make the most of a schedule that sometimes changes so fast I could get whiplash. But every so often, it would be nice if a project proceeded according to my time frame.