I’m a big believer is working on as many projects as you can when you are starting out. The more sets you are on, the more you will learn! I have worked on some very disorganized sets and learned how to run mine better. I’ve worked for no pay outside of food and learned what snacks to avoid. I have worked as an extra and learned to treat everyone on set with respect.
As you progress in your career it is OK to say no to a job if the script doesn’t speak to you, you don’t want to work with the crew, or the pay isn’t enough. You will know in your gut if it isn’t the right project for you–if it’s not, say no!
At first, it can feel really difficult to say “no” to a job. What if you are turning down a huge opportunity? What if the people asking to hire you never ask again? Often, it feels like you have to say yes. But you don’t! First, opportunities won’t run out. If this project doesn’t feel like a match or isn’t paying enough, it’s not the opportunity you want anyway.
Second, if you are good enough to be asked to work once, the same crew will likely ask you again. In fact, I LOVE when crew members give me a solid “No” right away when I reach out to hire them. It’s much clearer than a “Possibly” or “Yes, if I’m around that weekend..”
If you need to say no, be upfront about it. You don’t need to give a big reason, even a simple, “I can’t do this project, but keep me in mind for the future!” works. You will save yourself a lot of stress and worry by being honest right away.
The first time I quit a project I knew it was one I should have said “no” to right away. But I talked myself into saying yes. I didn’t listen to that gut instinct. As time went on I knew I wasn’t going to gain anything from the experience and I needed to bow out now, before we got any closer to filming. That left my in the awkward position of quitting, which I never would have had to do if I’d just said “No” in the first place!
There are plenty of people who are great at saying no and don’t need any reminders, but even at this stage in my career I am constantly reminding myself that it IS ok to say no. Saying no gives you time to say “yes” to other projects. Saying no can build your confidence. Saying no means you’ve learned enough to call yourself a professional filmmaker.
By Allison Powell
Allison’s motto is “Make it Happen” and she carries that attitude into all her film projects. This summer she completed her first feature, “Banging Lanie”, as producer/director/lead. Allison is also an avid runner and just completed her first 50 mile trail run. You find her online, on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter