In this episode I talk about the start of the lockdown and what that meant for the in-person work I was doing at the time, and advice for brainstorming a transition to remote work.
Full Episode Transcript
|Hey there, today, I am going to talk about what I was doing when the lockdown started back in March. I feel like that would be a useful thing for you to hear about.
I moved to Jersey a while back and that that was a shift for me because I was already I was doing tons of film crew work. I actually came from Chicago. So I was learning post-production in Chicago. And I’ll talk about that another time. But I was in student mode and I was in post-production mode.
But I got back out here and I was like, where’s my crew?
Because, you know, and actually the answer to that was New York. But I think I spoke in another podcast, the the feasibility.
When you look at it from a map point of view, you go, oh, Jersey, where you’re 15 miles away from New York.
This is going to be so easy. Just keep, you know, jumping over into New York from Jersey. Then you’re like, you’re not paying the New York fees, but you’re still able to participate.
That does not how the economy works. It’s so challenging to get from New Jersey to New York, unless you’re right in like Hoboken, which is like right on the Hudson. And really you can just take a train and otherwise it seriously can take two hours each way.
And that’s all I’m going to say about that. So I had to figure out how I was going to continue. I had all these skills now and how am I going to work this in a place that doesn’t have an industry or has a very small industry.
And what I’m talking about is film and entertainment. And I will say that there is you know, right now they actually got film credits here, which they hadn’t. And what that means is they got tax benefits from shooting in New Jersey, which wasn’t a thing when I got back here. And that is sometimes that can draw in a lot of producers. In fact, it always draws in a lot of producers. And in Jersey, it had it way back and there was a lot of production going on.
And then when the film, the tax incentives ended, everybody left.
And so when I got back here, the tax incentives were not a thing. And they are again, although right now, again, lockdown. So and I didn’t see that much going on. But, you know, you know, Steven Spielberg was shooting over, you know, about a half hour from where I was, I think, about a year ago. And so they brought in some production.
But so I had to figure out in the midst of that, not wanting to commute to New York unless it was like a really big, you know, something I was really into or I was helping a friend that was not something I wanted to do on a regular basis. And basically because the commute sucks and it’s expensive. So, you know, there was no benefit to doing a day of of work unless I was getting paid really well, because it would basically I’d spend all my money traveling and maybe like buying myself dinner before, you know, traveling, but it just wasn’t worth it.
And then eating up for hours and commuting. So it’s actually faster, I think, to commute to. I have a friend in Princeton and he was just like, oh, I got here in like an hour and a half, one train boom in the center of New York. For me, it’s like a bus ride. But I mean, I could take the train, but it leaves me in the wrong part of town. Anyway, I digress.
Same amount of time. I’m fifteen miles away and he’s in Princeton. Like, I don’t even know how many miles that is. I think it’s about a hundred or something. Same amount of time.
So proximity does not necessarily indicate he’s so here in my local. It became about transferable skills and looking at myself and how I could be useful to individuals and businesses with the skills that I had camera skills, post-production skills, editing skills, graphic design skills, and I am eventually I ended up in a very circuitous way, but I ended up doing photography. I was already into photography before everyone was a travel photographer. I was doing that. And then when everybody did it, I have a habit of like once everybody gets there, I’m like.
And so I stopped. But yeah, I did a travel blog back in like 2008.
And it was. It was a good one. It was more like a journal than it was a you know, hey, check out the five sites to see in San Jose. But it was like it was it was more of an internal thing. I bet that’s still alive, too. I bet if I looked for it, I could find it. But my point was. I had already acquired a deep knowledge of cameras and lenses and how to make a good shot and how to photograph things that in a flattering way, in a sensible way.
And that was part of my collection of talents. It’s a parallel to directing because that’s an important. Skill directing is a combination of art and skill, and both should be continuing to grow throughout time, and that was the accompanying one of the accompanying skills I needed as a director. So I made sure to acquire it. So that was how I serve people, I started doing portraits and I started working with companies that needed photography, and I did this remotely for the most part.
I mean, I needed to be in the presence of my, you know, my subject, although if I were doing photographing products, I did not have to be in contact with anyone. And so that’s how it worked out, because a lot of places in New York City needed shots of businesses. I was working with one company that wanted me to shoot photography for businesses over here. And so I ended up, you know, uploading the photos.
I have never been into that office. I worked for them for six years and I never went into that office. And so that was a thing.
I also did that for several other companies where I never saw the office. I didn’t ever meet who I was working for. They just said, do it. And it ended up being a fantastic situation. So that is.
And so then I also had in the midst of that editing stuff that I was doing for people website stuff that I was doing for people. And I’m telling you this story now because I already had a bit of an infrastructure set up here in Jersey when the covid lockdown hit.
Now, I was also offering videography services. Again, it shifted into that.
But when that happened, I had several jobs lined up for videography and that stopped. So it had to be a bit of a scramble.
It was a bit of an unknowing which is uncomfortable to me. Like, I don’t have this contract. We don’t know when we’re going to shoot this. We don’t know how long the lockdown is going to going to happen. We don’t know. It sounds like it’s going to be over in June. Cool. You know, and we don’t know how bad it’s going to get, especially. So this whole thing in March is when it was like the brakes just slammed on life and it was uncomfortable because there were too many questions.
And it was stressful, too, you know, like, what do you do? What do you say?
What do you do? We were all good. I don’t know. Like, if we’re right now, I’m recording this at the end of November and now there’s talking about, well, we’ve got this vaccine, but now…
Well, we won’t really be sorted out until May, and so that’s when you’re in the midst of trying to plan business and life and also your clients are trying to figure out the same thing. It makes for a messy time. So I really spent the first few months just being like, I don’t know what to do and looking online and trying to figure out stuff. And I figured out.
How to move even more stuff online and I luckily did have infrastructure set up, so I found myself doing more web design and I found myself doing more stock video, which I had done a long time ago, and just kind of figuring out different ways. Things like stock video, though, it’s not like, oh, I’m going to get more money, definitely by at the end of the month for this.
But it’s about building a long term solution for life online and not and remote. So that might have been the first time during these lockdowns when other people thought of it, but I have been thinking about it for ages because of this whole Jersey situation.
So it wasn’t too much of a difference from my lifestyle. A lot of people, at least in the media, are saying, oh, well, those people that can work, you know, remotely are the people who are like the luxury people or whatever. But I don’t think that that’s how it was, because a lot of people are doing phone jobs and, you know, like doing customer service. And that actually is just by need of necessity.
It’s not a class thing. They’re picturing the coder that’s earning two hundred thousand a year, you know, working for Google. And that’s not necessarily what it is. And a lot of the time, cobbling together a lifestyle of of a which is what it felt like sometimes of 15 different things to freelance and serve a customer, which now has become a nice packaged thing that I can provide for people. But at the time it did feel like I was cobbling things together.
And while I’m lucky now that I had that at the time, it felt like kind of it felt bad. I can’t even, you know, because
at least in the town I’m living in now the area being a freelancer is still kind of looked down upon, even though I feel like it’s more resilient in these times, but it’s looked down upon because a lot of these people are earning a lot of money going into New York, you know, and commuting and doing that whole thing, that 9:00 to 5:00 thing.
But I just the point of this whole talk is to say that there are possibilities for you if you find yourself. Remote or not, in a living situation that you were in a year ago, you know, hopefully you have some sort of means to connect online like a phone or computer.
And sometimes that’s. What you need or all you need, and I hope that libraries are open where you are, if that’s what you have to connect to the Internet, because that is a big open door to a lot of opportunities during this time. In the coming days, I intend to talk more about this and give you ideas about. Possibilities, maybe based on what you might have been doing before the covid thing hit and ways to maybe put yourself out there in a remote way.
Because I feel like that would serve you guys. People who are taking my course, people who are considering my course, I have a course in directing and of course in producing and who maybe have those skills, similar skills already. And if I can help you guys, that would be, I feel the best way to serve while doing this, which I enjoy doing. And I sometimes am like, how can what can I
talk about be the most useful to the people listening.
So that is one. And also just a thought on. Yeah, now I’m going to end there. That’s it. It’s a short one, but I just want to maybe get your I’m going to put this out there, OK, for you.
A little homework you feel if you feel to engage that way.
But look at the skills that you have. What you were doing before, in the entertainment industry, even was acting or lighting, and figure out if there is a way where you can, you know, do that online. And keep yourself safe. And do stuff while the lockdown is happening, so. If yeah, we’ll get into specifics another time, but I’m just putting that out there and just start to maybe, like, write that down and maybe look at it before you go to sleep and just ask that query.
I sometimes get ideas once I’m sleeping, when I if I fall asleep thinking about something, I’ll wake up and I’ll have that idea or I’ll be figuring out how I want to, you know, pitch of a project to a client. I’ll just wake up and I’ll be like, this is correct. You know, I’ll know it’ll be a gut thing, but it’s always my my smarter brain that works at night when I’m sleeping. But that figures that stuff out for me.
So maybe just put that in in your brain before you fall asleep and you might wake up with some ideas. So that’s it for today. I hope this is helpful and I will talk to you soon. OK, take care. Bye bye.