Why following your dreams sucks

11th Mar 2020

Growing up, American movies were the only ones encouraging me to follow my dreams.

‘You can do anything, just believe you can and you will!’

Naturally, this idea instilled in me shitloads of unrealistic expectations. For many years I blindly followed several dreams I had - the first was to be a painter, then a writer, a journalist, and finally a video producer & video editor.

I was trying really hard to ignore the fact that being poor, having no connections or street cred in any of these industries were factors that could potentially slow me down a lot or even terminate my dreams completely.

After a few years, I learnt the hard way that being talented, creative, hard working and passionate about anything I do is not enough.

Artwork by Ben Giles

All the strategies I tried failed miserably. A few people tried to help me along the way, but it all fell apart. Some filmmakers led me on for months to invest my time and money working for them for free, giving them my creative ideas with the prospect of maybe getting a job opportunities via them. That failed as well, because turns out it’s a dog eat dog world out there, and no one truly wants to mentor or help you in any way, because nobody helped them either so why should they help anyone else? Of course, there is also the problem that if they help you and you succeed, you become a threat and they don’t want you to steal their jobs and clients.

It’s heartbreaking to experience these things, I’m not going to lie. Anyone who grew up poor dreams of overcoming poverty on their own, with hardwork and persistence, and become successful. So it sucks big time when you start from the bottom and then you discover that the bottom has so many fucking layers.

I wish someone would have told me more about the real world before I threw myself into working so many years for free because ‘that’s how you get a job in this industry’. You follow dream after dream, alone, and just when you start to be hopeful that there’s a chance you can ‘make it’, everything comes crumbling down.

But in a way, it’s ok. I failed hard, and I failed a lot. It made me stronger, better, wiser - and now I’m ready to try chasing a dream again.

Filmmaking has been in the back of my mind for many years. No matter how much I tried to break into that world, I didn’t manage to -  not in the UK, and not in Romania where I live now. Maybe it was bad timing, a bad strategy or the wrong places.

In my filmmaking journey, I had many dead ends, disappointments but also tiny rewarding experiences that kept showing me that I have what it takes, I just need to put it more work and get more experience.

From what I gathered, it’s a male dominated industry, at least locally (in Cluj-Napoca) - so this means I really need to go above and beyond to prove myself in order to be taken seriously. There aren’t any internship opportunities for video production (that I know of), there are only a few established freelance filmmakers around and tight knit video production companies that you can’t get into without strong connections, street cred and most importantly, lots of experience.

For me, it’s a very lonely professional existence. I’m not part of this tight knit underground filmmaking community, I have no way to get in, and no way to network. I don’t personally know other female filmmakers either (I only know of them). That would definitely inspire me to believe that my dream is achievable and realistic.

My only option right now is to start doing as much video production work as possible, show people what I can do and hopefully, that would get me closer to where I want to be.

So far following my dreams sucks big time.

‘Dreams don’t work unless you do’

There’s one thing that helps me keep going: I know my passion for video is real. I know my creativity is real. Whenever I think about making videos, my heart jumps with joy. When I film something and edit it, I don’t care how tired I am, I can sit there and work for hours because I love it so much. Seeing filmmakers and cameramen on the street carrying their gear to a shooting location brings me joy, and I always stare at their equipment and marvel at how awesome it is (of course I wish I would have it, too). When I walk on a film set, I feel like I’m walking through paradise and I imagine all the amazing productions you could do in there.

‘The time is now’

Time flies quickly, and the more we wait, the further we get from following our dreams. There is never a right time, and we’ll never have everything you need. The time to follow your dream is now.