I was working in New York City with this indie producer. And we were going into production on a 1.5 million dollar film. I remember the morning well. We were out at breakfast when it was casually mentioned that we lost funding for our movie. I remember asking why. It had something to do with actors bailing out. Or investors getting scared… Or any number of silly reasons.
It was the first time I got fired ever…
At the time, there was (roughly) $96 dollars in my bank bank account. I was already living on an inflatable air mattress in the corner of some guy’s kitchen. This was all I could afford. And I didn’t mind because I was working in the movie industry. This was a dream come true.
But presently, I was getting fired. For the first time. Ever.
The First Time I Got Fired
To be honest, I don’t remember much else about the morning. I was numb. Without the job, I didn’t have money for rent. That scared me. I had no idea what I was going to do.
When I got home, my roommate told me the the electric bill was late. He needed more money. That sucked. I didn’t have it. I also didn’t have a job. And my prospects for finding a job were low.
I had taken a risk moving to New York with only a few thousand dollars. And in a short amount of time, I had achieved good things. But at that exact moment, I felt like a major failure.
Hear me out. A certain part of my identity had gotten pretty wrapped up in the whole narrative of my idealistic life. At the time, I actually viewed my job as a symbol that I’d “MADE IT.”
Even thought I was working twelve hour days, I loved the work. The producer got us in meetings with prospective investors and movie distributors. Things were going super fantastic. And my social life was awesome! At times I felt like Peter Gabriel wrote his famed song “Big Time” about me.
Here is the video:
I’m pretty sure it the song is satirical. But I took it literally.
That’s how horrible my ego was.
(Ugh… Sharing this with you is difficult… But necessary.)
On some level, I finally felt like I had achieved something that people in my small home town could never understand… “I had made it.”
We’ve all been there right?
You have a taste of success and then something happens and in moments your dreams shatter?
My film industry job had somehow defined my self worth. Losing the job snapped me back to reality. I wasn’t so BIG at all. I had no safety net. No cash. And outside of a few people, my network was limited. I wasn’t a filmmaker.
I was someone working for a producer who was making films. I was helping someone else get successful. My success was based on this guys’ success and I had no control. So when his company lost an investor, I lost my job.
I tried a few temp agencies. But I didn’t have luck.
So I packed my bags and went back to Pennsylvania.
If you ever had a rough week, I know the feeling.
In one day, I went from having an awesome job, a great social life and the (imagined) potential for fame and fortune – to a guy living in my old bedroom, in my parent’s house. Except this time, my bedroom had been painted pink because my mom had turned it into a Mary Kay studio.
Losing my job was a great lesson…
Now when I look back, falling down was the essential springboard to help me find my own path. After all, if I hadn’t have lost my job in New York, I would have probably never realized the most essential success secret. A secret of such profound (and very simple) magnitude that changed my life…
Do you want to know the secret? Here it is:
“YOU DO NOT NEED PERMISSION TO BE SUCCESSFUL”
I don’t know why it took me getting beat down to realize this.
But back in my home town, I took a job selling cell phones in a local mall. My plan was to save some money, get out of Pennsylvania and move to Los Angeles. And that’s what I eventually did.
When I got to LA, I didn’t ask for permission to create my own projects. Instead I got with a team and together we took action and produced our first feature.
So in sharing my story, I want to give you two things to consider:
1. When you think you have “made it,” odds are good that you probably have not. So hold off from an inflated ego or buying a Ferrari (at least for now.)
2. And if I asked you why you haven’t yet made your feature film, is it because you’re still asking for permission?
If you liked this story, make sure you download my filmmaker checklist.