Freelancer Highs and Lows: How to Handle the Roller Coaster

  • Mon 14th Nov 2016

Being a freelancer means you have your good days, your bad days, and your down and dirty depressing days. It’s an emotional roller coaster which is not for everyone. This week we talk to Greer Bolomey, a successful producer from C’est a Vie Films. Like us, you’ll be pleased to learn that the emotional roller coaster happens to everyone in the industry! We hope it inspires you to never give up! 

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Photograph // Thomas Dang

What does life on a roller coaster mean to you?

Life on the roller coaster to me means sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down, sometimes you’re hanging upside down and sometimes you’re going at a million miles an hour and you feel like it’s never going to end. It’s definitely a great analogy for living the creative life.

How do you deal with it emotionally and financially?

Emotionally, I’m really lucky that I have a partner who works in the same industry and so understands the work that I do and how passionate I am about it. While we don’t always see eye to eye (for him, his 9 to 5 job is more a pay cheque than a passion), he knows that the reason I’m good at my job is because love it, and I invest myself 150% in every project. He also understands my commitment to building relationships with clients and crews; and growing my skills, whether that’s through education or throwing myself in the deep end on a project.

I’m also lucky that he’s in full time work, and my fallback if I’m going through a bit of a work drought. He understands the swings and roundabouts of the freelance world and that one month we may be stuck at home because it’s quiet for me but the next we’re planning an overseas adventure with the family.

Why people should never give up?

There’s opportunity around every corner. It’s about having the right mindset and the right skills and knowing where to look for the next challenge.

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Photograph // Yasmin L

Why people should you never give up?

There’s opportunity around every corner. It’s about having the right mindset and the right skills and knowing where to look for the next challenge.

How do you find a sweet spot between paid and unpaid? 

This is the constant challenge in freelancing. It’s either a feast or famine. I haven’t quite mastered the balance between the two yet but I think it’s about having the right attitude and steeling yourself for the fact that sometimes life and work is going to be more challenging to find than other times. It’s also about having structure and a plan for when times are quiet and/or tough.

What advice can you give to someone starting out in the industry?

When I first started freelancing, someone told me that it takes a good 12 months to get into the swing of things and they were right. I should have heeded the advice at the time, because I gave up and took a full time job after 10 months (4 of which were without work). Fortunately the full time job, while intense, challenging and short lived really opened my eyes up to what was happening outside of the TV production space and I made some amazing connections and worked on some incredible projects for global brands, both in Australia and overseas. It also helped to cement the fact that ultimately I want to work for myself.

Late last year, the opportunity came up again to go back to freelance by working with Golden Duck and SBS as the Mardi Gras Production Manager, it seemed like a no brainer and I’ve been busy with a combination of freelance work and building my own businesses ever since.

So I guess I have two pieces of advice:

The first is: Don’t give up. But have a fallback – a part time job that can keep the wolf from the door and a fantastic support network that can help financially and emotionally when times are tough.

The second piece of advice is: see every job and every conversation as an opportunity – you never know where it may lead.

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Words by //Greer Bolomey pictured second from the left 

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  • Mon 14th Nov 2016