Above image courtesy of Kelly Alexandra Williams
I used to have a life. I gave it up 6 and a half years ago. What happened 6 and a half years ago? I went freelance. Do I regret this? Not at all. I am way more content in my work, I absolutely love my job, but it has come at a price. Is this price worth it though, to no longer have a balance in your life? That is what I want to discuss here. This is a quite different personal blog, quite emotional and very honest.
January the 1st 2013. An apt time for a post like this and no this is NOT a new year’s resolution type post…well it is kinda… Just something to get you thinking and figure out what matters to you and how you can manage your time better.
If you visit my site often, you will have noticed my lack of posts in December… I am really sorry for that. I try to do two a week if I can. It’s important for a number of reasons. It keeps the site alive and current, gives people a reason to keep checking in, and I really enjoy writing them even if my typos are frequent…David Kong (Thanks David!) does copy check them after a day or two, but early readers have to put up with much sloppiness!
So why nothing new last month? Well, I tried to take a truly relaxing time-off holiday in Hawaii just after Masters in Motion on the 6th of December. I needed it so much. My first holiday of this kind in a very long time. Due to awful personal reasons, it ended very abruptly after two days, and I had to rush to Australia. Whilst I was there, no work was really possible. I managed to get the Movember draw done and get the 180 emails or so done, but there simply was no time for posts, for shooting, for pretty much anything work related apart from 3 hours one evening doing a meet up/ shoot-out. More important things took precedent.
Then on Christmas Eve morning whilst in Sydney, a bad month became an even more terrible month. I woke up to a message that devastated me. My best friend of 20+ years, Mark O’Leary, suddenly and unexpectedly lost his battle with cancer. When I say best friend, I mean it. Mark was like my brother for so many years. We went on holiday countless times together. Went on the pull constantly, never succeeding! We were simply the best of friends. Teenage girls would say we were like totally BFFs… but work got in the way of friendship, and in his last years we saw each other so little, even when I found out he had cancer. That time we could have spent together has now past, and I can never get it back. All I can do is treasure that summer afternoon last year when we sat for hours catching up, talking super hero, fantasy, SF movies and TV shows and promising to see much more of each other from then on. Not because he had just been diagnosed with cancer because we had missed each other. We didn’t. Work got in the way. Constantly travelling with barely a few days between gigs, I simply never found the time.
I was so happy though that he appeared to be doing so well in his battle against it. How wrong that turned out to be. Now Marko is gone and in just over a week’s time I will be speaking at his funeral about the man with whom I had the best times of my life with. Marko also was a great example of a man with a perfect work/ life balance. A great job, successful, with an amazing wife and two beautiful children. I aspired to him in so many ways.
So what has this got to do with work/ life balance? Well in simplistic terms, this is just an example of how I let my work get in the way of the important things in life, and for the past 6 years or so this has gotten worse and worse. So if ever there was a time to change it, it’s now. It was not that I didn’t have time to see Marko. I just spent more time in my edit suite when I really should have gotten my priorities straight. I could easily have done both. I am guilty as hell now he has gone, and if you are reading this, Marko, wherever you are, sorry bloke. Just know this has taught me a big lesson. It is time to stop putting off sorting out my work/ life balance. I will also promise to stop mocking Chelsea mate.
When I was staff at Sky News for 17 years, I had a life. A very nice life, I worked hard but in a different way than now. Holiday pay, days off etc… Sky was a great place for me. I learnt so much there, and my experiences of my time there will stay with me forever. They took a chance on an 18 year old kid when every other broadcaster said sod off. I was lucky enough to be taught by some amazing cameramen.
When I moved to the documentary unit near the near end of my time at Sky News, I was often in the Avid suite editing until god knows what time whilst my girlfriend was alone in bed at home. Silly. But I always wanted my work to be the best possible, and I was and still am a true perfectionist so nothing was ever good enough. Sometimes I would work all the way through to the next day. I never was a clock in/ clock off kind of guy. I always said that the moment I was no longer challenged by my job was the time to leave.
Unfortunately in my last years at Sky, there were quite a few cameramen who really didn’t care anymore about shooting, and that was truly sad. They had no passion anymore, and for them it was purely a salary. I understood, they had families, but my love of filming made me terrified of getting to a point where I fell out of love with my passion. I never wanted that to happen to me. There were lots who did still care and love their job thankfully!
For the first 14 years or so, I did a lovely 5 days on 5 days off shift pattern. Truly lovely. I also had 6 weeks annual leave and, to get 2 weeks off with my shift pattern, all I needed to do was take 5 of my shift days off and there we go, 2 weeks. I also had sick pay! Hoorah! So when I had a terrible hangover it was OK (kidding!) I had a life. I had time to play around when I was younger, and I had time for a relationship or two when I was a bit older. I had time for XBOX, for movies, for family, for friends. In my last years at Sky, I moved from the shift pattern to do the doc unit which was 5 days a week. It was good though, as the work I did was so much better and way more satisfying than the previous stuff that it was a dream come true. Screw the having a life nonsense! Yes I ended up having less of a life, but compared to what I have now that was like 7 days off a week.
I do remember one day on the doc unit, an older cameraman came up to me very pissed off and said that all the extra hours I was doing were making him look bad. Yep. He said that. But, this was from a guy who had arranged for tickets on the London Eye for himself, wife and kids DURING his work hours one day and was going to slope off….somehow. When I needed him to go shoot some B-Roll as I was stuck editing he was VERY unhappy and got very angry with me as he wouldn’t be able to use the tickets. This guy was a great example for me, for everything I NEVER wanted to become. He also shot me some pretty shitty B-Roll!
Now you may feel at this point I am becoming a bit of a whiner. I am not. I regret nothing in regards to my work choices to do this, but I have not found the right balance yet, and this is what I hope to achieve this year. This post is therapeutic, I hope a blueprint for what I want to achieve and I hope a good read/ advice for you!
Let me ask you some questions and see if any of this sounds familiar.
Your office is your home and you end up editing till stupid O’Clock as the computer is just THERE.
You lie in bed answering emails, making notes, drawing storyboards etc…at midnight whilst ignoring the gorgeous naked woman wearing stockings & suspenders with a little negligee (is there a male equivalent? Can men wear sexy underwear? I have tried and always failed!) or perhaps dressed up as Return of the Jedi Princess Leia next to you or, if you are a lady, maybe he is dressed as er…Han Solo?! 😉
You talk about your work with your partner. All the time…when you don’t you show her your work!
You are on twitter/facebook etc for WORK reasons throughout the day, often between mouthfuls at dinner!
You wake up in the morning and check your emails, twitter etc BEFORE shower, brushing teeth, breakfast or morning rumpy pumpy!!
Weekends are just another day.
You are constantly late for things as you just need to render one more shot…
Friends stop asking you over to dinner or parties as you are always too busy/ away and they can’t be bothered asking anymore!
You chose NAB as your annual holiday as it combines both! Work and pleasure!
You are writing a blog post on this subject when you have a gazillion more fun things to do like watch your new Blu Ray Moonrise Kingdom! 🙂
The list goes on…
So…what is wrong here and is this the only way you can succeed?
NO…you can succeed and have a life, and what I am going to suggest is hopefully a plan for how I get my life in balance. Because as much as my work means the world to me, my family, my friends are the most important thing to me and often get forsaken…you need to show them that work is NOT the most important thing and that you can be a great husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, father, mother etc…
When you are freelance, you do generally end up working more. You accept most jobs thrown your way as you are worried things could dry up. You stop taking holidays, as that is lost earnings. Insecurity needs to be worked on here and an acceptance that you MUST take breaks and breaks are not costing you money!
When I first started freelancing, I took everything thrown at me, sometimes 7 days a week. No matter what it was…I didn’t care! I was terrified work would dry up and I would not be able to pay the bills.
I am unfortunately a naturally very insecure person, so really I am a terrible person to be freelance! I eventually had to take chances with the nonstop bookings and stopped taking everything, as I was burning myself out. So I got some solid bread and butter work that guaranteed me 4 or so days work a week. Lovely, but not what I truly wanted as a freelancer, even though I enjoyed it and it did challenge me. I wasn’t able to do the really exciting jobs that usually came in at the last minute… often in genres I had always wanted to try out. The bread and butter was holding back my ambition in a way, I also wanted to do more projects that I had way more involvement in, from pitching, to pre-prod through to delivery. If I had zero ambition and no desire to stretch myself and push myself, I would never have left Sky! I would have just sat back and been the guy who clocked in and booked tickets for my family to go on the London Eye during my work hours! So after 3 years of doing this, I took another gamble and cut right back on them…a shame in a way, as that security and work that was over at the end of the day with nothing to think about afterwards gave me much more of a life. The most I have had as a freelancer to date.
That is the problem. One off 1 day shooting gigs are easy-peasy because of that. Take as many of those, as you want to pay the bills and cut back if you are working too much and not having enough time off…It’s when you take on more roles, producing, directing, editing that suddenly you go home and you are still working. You stop leaving work behind when you leave work! You are up all hours planning, writing emails, editing. That is what eats up your life, but often you have no choice. It comes down to managing this in a different way and most likely delegating. I know one man jobs are common. I do many of them myself, but sometimes bringing in extra help takes that strain off you and gives you a chance to recharge and be more productive. Bringing in a producer, an editor…someone who can take the pressure off…working your arse off won’t mean you will succeed, it will mean you will burn yourself out, end up hating your work and having no life still!
Working at home vs working away from home
There are strong arguments for both here. Renting office space, even for one-man operations costs dosh. BUT that separation could be key to maintaining that work/ life balance. You are more likely to stop working at a reasonable time if you have an office than if your office is at home. If you do have an edit suite at home, it’s quite likely you will go back into it after dinner and carry on until stupid o’clock. How likely is it after dinner for you to get back in the car or maybe even get on a train and go to your office to carry on? I have to be honest, though. I work from home. Why? I spend 90% of my year working abroad, and therefore office space would be a daft waste of money. BUT if I chose to do more UK based work I would absolutely rent office space. It’s a no-brainer for me. One of the best ways to separate work from your life. I actually want nothing more than to have children to be honest. There I said it. I envy all my friends with their beautiful kids…I know if that day comes everything will HAVE to change. There is no way I would carry on this way of working in that situation.
Dating/ marrying someone in the business
Bit of a cheeky one this, but utterly serious. I have been out with an indeterminate number of women in my life BUT the only ones I have had long term relationships with are ones in the business. Why? Partly because 17 years working for one broadcaster meant I did dip my wick in the company ink…BUT it was also mostly because they understood why I had to work so hard….but that is the problem! They GOT why I had to work so hard. If they were not in the business you would have to make concessions to them..also you would most likely not be talking about work the whole time. Which would be a nice respite!
Of course you can’t help who you fall in love with. When I eventually do marry Zooey Deschanel, I will try to not spend too much time at the in-laws asking her dad every question under the sun 😉 Seriously though PLEASE do not dump your partner because of what I have said here (would people really take me that literally?) The point I am making is actually a lot simpler. Just because your partner is in the business don’t let that be an excuse. Treat them like they were not. Go home at a reasonable time. Take them to dinner, take them to the movies, take them away to Paris for the weekend, make proper couple time for them…for both of you! Romance them, make sweet unselfish love to them 🙂 Late edits can mean quick shags or generally nothing at all. Quickies are fine but if that’s all you can offer then again you will suffer in the long run 😉
Working abroad vs working near home
Another really tough one this. I am a TERRIBLE example of this. I work away from home as mentioned earlier, so much that I am pretty sure I can stop paying UK tax now! My cats don’t know me anymore. I don’t bother getting food for the fridge anymore, just the freezer and if it wasn’t for Debbie my neighbour, Bert, Percy and Noodle would be pretty damn skinny!!
So why do I work away from home so much? It’s where most of my work comes from…I do enjoy travelling. I don’t enjoy it as much as when I was 23. It isn’t glamorous I promise you…it truly rarely is. Even if you are flying biz class and put up in a nice hotel, which is of course really lovely. It’s just not home and very rarely, if ever, will a hotel be better than your home, although last year I stayed in 2 places in South Africa that I would happily never leave! A big part of the reason that it won’t be as nice as home, if you have a significant other or kids, is they won’t be there…then again maybe that’s why you like to travel! It is also damn lonely to be utterly frank, the amount of nights I have spent alone in a hotel room with just my laptop for company (fine if most hotels had decent internet! They don’t!)…if you are away with a crew then you can socialise with them, but often I go to places where the crew live there and they go home to their families in the evening. You go back to the hotel and the 24 hour room service menu! YUM!
This year already I am booked up until June more or less, and I have worked out that I will be home for around 33 days between now and mid June. Not a lot. I am sure that will decrease too! SO why am I accepting these jobs? Because it’s what I do and, as I said, I do love them! But, this will change…these jobs were taken in 2012 before my 2013 decision to change things up. Yes, I can’t really change much until mid 2013 BUT I will. I plan to take more UK jobs. I will take shorter and less foreign jobs. I will see my friends more. I will see my family more. I will make time for the people I love and get that balance back into my life that has been missing for years.
Above is a picture of myself and my beautiful niece Jaime. I adore her and her brother Dan. I saw them for 2 days in 2012. That is disgusting. These are two kids I would give up my own life for, yet I cannot find time to see them? They are only 2 and a half hours drive away. I see work friends on the other side of the world more often! It’s a similar thing I was talking about at the start with my late friend Marko. I am not saying stop working or totally change your life to spend time with your family and friends, but don’t let work take over to the point where you don’t see them at all. It’s all about balance. Finding it and maintaining it.
I love my family and friends, but if I gave up what I love to do because of them, then I would be a very unhappy person. You MUST still live your life and do what makes you happy! After all, happiness is what we are striving to achieve more of here. Happiness should bring better quality of work…but not necessarily. I have done some of my very best work whilst in a deep dark depression, seriously…I just wasn’t a pleasure to work with! 🙂
A few hours ago I got off my 23 hour flight from Sydney. The 1st of January is my mum’s birthday. I was lucky enough to be home so I could see her and my dad. It was great not to miss it. My dad though? I have missed about 18 of the last 23 birthdays. Atrocious I know. Mainly because my mum’s birthday is around a time of year I don’t normally work! Does dad care? Not at all, he knows I love him and I do see them both whenever I can. A house actually came up for sale two doors from them recently….I joked I should move there. I got a very stern response. DON’T YOU DARE!!! Live your life where you are, don’t move here just because of us! Actually I think it was a concern I would get mum to do all my laundry and be round for dinner every night! It took them 18 years to get rid of me and get some peace and quiet! 🙂
Incredibly important this. When I was staff at Sky I was fit as a fiddle. I went to the gym 4 times a week and felt and looked great. I was Brad Pitt’s body double in Fight Club and the number one underwear model for Calvin Klein (this may not be true). When I went freelance and started working all hours, I slowly got fatter and sicker. I had no time for the gym anymore and I ate late and I ate crap. Eating late is such a common thing in this business and a really bad thing to do for your health! So in February last year I decided enough was enough and I started a health kick. I do exercise more, but I still have no time for the gym, but I am more active and I eat a hell of a lot better and now look after myself. I feel a million times better! Don’t let work make you ill. I see friends and colleagues almost work themselves into an early grave. Don’t let that happen. Work/ life balance also means living a nice long healthy life!
I mentioned it earlier briefly, but a really bad work/ life balance can also bring about more than physical ill health. Depression and anxiety is common in so many people, not just workaholics. More common that you may think. I can vouch for that having had more than my fair share of this. I certainly am not the constantly super happy, charming, lovely chappy I was in my 20s…from the time when my staff job changed to the very long hours in the documentary unit to being freelance, I changed a lot and not for the better. Stress and exhaustion affects you in so many ways. If you find your personality changing due to your stressful workload and you have no release, it is imperative that you make urgent changes. Please take this advice from someone who has been through this. The simplest of changes could help you. It is not guaranteed of course and sometimes it can become so bad you need professional help. This goes for this and everything mentioned in this post. Never be embarrassed to ask for help or seek help!
So in summary…
If you are relatively new and not working much, a lot of what I am saying won’t mean much to you…YET…but it may. We need to work so we can live and have a life. Earning money is of course very important BUT it is not the most important thing! The more successful you get the more danger you will have of falling into this trap. I couldn’t cope with not doing what I am doing, I love my work, I am not advocating giving up your passion, far from it…my work is a HUGE part of me and I adore it…please just make sure the rest doesn’t get forgotten about. One day you might just wake up alone and realise you let the most important people in your life slip away. Trust me. You don’t want to be there.
Marko’s death was not the reason I wanted to figure out a better way to live my life. I had been planning to do this since September when I realised where I was heading…but I hadn’t actually started. His sudden passing and other very hard things to deal with last month made me realise…enough talking…time to do it. So I am. No more pre-production, script re-writes etc…time for the cameras to roll!
A wise lady from a land far, far away once said to me “no one ever said on their death bed ‘I wish I spent more time at work.'” wise words…just ask Charles Foster Kane.
Shooting is my passion, but I am more passionate about my life.
So happy new year to you all. Hopefully 2013 will be a year we will all remember for the right reasons.
One last thing to leave you with. I made a short doco about a guy who had a life I envied. Is it a glamorous life? No. Is it a wealthy life? No. But it’s a truly happy fulfilled life. Please watch this below. I find him so inspiring.
Portrait of a Percussionist from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.
It is unlikely that I will be able to put together the below “beach bum shootout” that I shot below due to what happened after I started shooting it. A real shame as I had some lovely content in there. It just needed more and I only had the cameras for a short time
Thanks for this. A great in depth post at a time in my life where I’m starting to come to these very crossroads. In a world where we all have some elements of a Cassandra complex, this is great advice to arm yourself with!
Thanks for this one Philip. Very well written.
Good food for thought in pretty much any career. Thanks for pouring out your heart.
Excellent and touching post Philip. I for one do admit to checking back to see for your latest posts almost daily as they always prove so valuable but in no way do I ever hope it leads to a sense of entitlement as far as expecting you to keep up with the pace of posting twice a week. I respect your views and I most definitely would expect you to make time for yourself. I sincerely hope you manage to find and maintain that healthy balance in your life. Having met you at one of your meet ups in Arizona (Trader VIc’s I believe) I know how committed you are to helping others grow in this field and for that you will always have my respect. Deeply sorry for your loss and may 2013 be filled with success in both career and personal life. Cheers
Thanks for your very personal post.
I won’t pretend to be able to give you any useful advice, but let me reply with a few personal notes myself.
I think a lot of people following you envy your life, but mainly becos they only see the surface of it.
I recognise a lot of the things you mention about editing late hours, accepting every job coming at you …
Past summer I shot 2 shorts for both a stillmotion contest and the Rode one you were part of. And all of this during my summer holiday with wife, kids and brother and sister in law. I ended up spending about 2 bright beautiful sunny days inside the house we rented, tweaking the edit and rendering … I ended up with a Rode Videomic Pro, but at the expense of 2 wonderful days with my relatives.
Fortunately I’m blessed to have a wife and two kids who keep me grounded : since then my nickname is “Mr. Render” and that definitely was a wake up call. No more working during holidays from now on.
I’m nowhere near your skills or number of jobs, but 2012 was a turning point for me with 2 commercial jobs abroad : Moscow and Egypt. With 2 kids, leaving home for a week or longer means I can’t just run off and leave everything to my wife. That would be selfish and in the long run would undermine our relationship.
I have one simple rule : to never work on Sundays. That is strictly family time. I make an exception to this rule a few times a year (when it’s longer jobs that include a Sunday or wedding shoots on Sunday), but a few years ago, I would’ve taken everything that was offered to me, regardless of the time or day. Those days are gone since the cons (missing time with my wife and kids) outweight the pros (money).
I was afraid too that work would dry up, but I’ve noticed that I’ve now reached a level where people are becoming eager to hire me and are willing to reschedule when I’m not available. If that’s the case for me (an unknown beginner with a small portfolio) I’m sure it must be true for you too.
By the way, the money you might lose by working less or less far, will be more than compensated by feeling better, having more time for yourself and your loved ones, etcetera. Not having others plan your time and life and regaining the freedom to plan your own work and life is very liberating.
All I wanted to say is that I think you’ve taken a very courageous decision and I wish you all the best in 2013. And for what it’s worth : I’m sure Marko wouldn’t want you to feel guilty.
Might see you in Brussels in Feb.
Philip – excellent post. So sorry to hear of the loss of your friend! I totally understand what you mean in this post – tho I sure don’t travel much, I do spend way too much time in front of a computer – mainly because of that fear that if I don’t, then food won’t be on the table 6 months from now.
I’ll take your message to heart and I’ll work on ways to spend more time with family as well.
Thanks for the wakeup call and blessings to you and your family.
thanks Mitch…and have a great 2013!
Hi Philip, I’m sorry for your loss…
It’s crazy how I can relate to your post… Through I’m just 23 years old… I launched my carrier in Paris this year…. And it has been a HELL of a year on the job side. I worked a LOT as a Cameraman and as an editor (and I’m editing right now in fact)…. and yes.. “week-end” became another day..
As I said it’s only been one year… but I’m already called a “no life” by my friends, that I don’t see very much… a shame as they are in the same city…
I hate “new years resolution”, but “having a life” is definitely what I will work (joke) on this year and it’s all I can wish for you Philip.
Thanx for a lot of very true thoughts. i think it’s quite hard to find the balance if you really love your work or even more dangerous, if your job is a dream come true. I found a lot of your feelings very familiar and I think it’s really worthwhile to find your very own balance. This can be very different to the balance somebody else thinks is good, but even if one doesn’t change his or her life at once, thinking about life and most of all about time is a beginning .
so one again thank you for sharing your feelings, I’m sure it will help others as well.
Have a great new year withna lot of fun and time,
Im 23 and I’ve just started working as a freelancer
I can’t relate to most of what you said , mainly because it hasnt happen to me
But I believe that learning by others mistake is the better way
I know that this will save me a lot of hassle down in the road
Im glad to be seeing you making this transition in life
Great things ahead for you for sure
I respect your work and you as a Person
Thank you for sharing this side of you
God bless you
My condolences for your loss, Philip. It takes great courage to share this with us and good to see that you’re trying to make the best out of this situation. (…and chucking in a witty remark every now and again, loved the bit about dating/marrying)
I’m keen to read and watch about your opinion on 48fps and the Beach Bum shoot-out, but take it easy 😉 Don’t forget your new year’s resolution 😉
I understand completely, I work for myself and would not trade a minute of it working for the man. I have 2 kids and I have a strong work ethic like my father, recently I have filmed in Las Vegas and Boston for some great clients. Stayed in great places, but home is better. I would never trade out my life for the old corporate life… yes, it has it’s ups and downs, but life is about living and you do that Philip and that is the gift you share with us… your other family.
A very poignant message!
Firstly, sorry to hear about the loss of your good friend. Whilst I am in a different industry, I can relate to the sentiment of your post. In early December I separated from my wife and moved out of the house between Christmas and New Year (I wanted to be at home on Christmas Day to be with the kids). As with any break-up there are a lot of reasons but one of them was the amount of time I was away with work. Whilst I enjoy my job and like to travel, it doesn’t compare to seeing my kids every day. I have spent the past few weeks working out how I can balance things better and hopefully rebuild my relationship.
Anyway, thanks again for this post and for all of your help and advice over the past few years. Hope 2013 is a great one for you.
This is all very well and good but when are you going to do a review of the GH3?
Only joking! This is me sitting here with a chest infection from too little sleep and too much work. I’m hearing the sounds of nails many being hit right on the head.
Wow. That was honest. I have been going through a similar dialogue for most of the past week. I am a single father with four lovely kids and I work ALL the time. I do spend time with them but that means working till all hours and never having time to catch a breath. Can’t keep this up but not sure how to do it better while still earning enough. Freelance is all i have ever known.
There is this quote i found the other day which distills the importance of your message i think:
“So much of what is best in us is bound up in our love of family, that it remains the measure of our stability because it measures our sense of loyalty.”
― Haniel Long
Anyway, many blessings to you Philip and your friends family in 2013.
Cheers Mr. Bloom.
You are always welcome in my boat on the river.
Philip, we’ve never met but I know people, myself included, who have been in that leaky boat in which you’re paddling right now.
As a perfectionist creative there is something that you must learn over time. Your life is a series of lessons which you have to master before moving on the next level. You are a master shooter and editor. You have total control over the equipment and can make it build the imagery that lives in your head.
You can play this role forever and fit the odd DP gig or other related job in there but might there be another league for you to join? Jack Cardiff as you know was one of the greats. If you haven’t watched the doc about him, Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff, it might be an interesting view.
Your work is unique and the idea of you having a full crew to guide with your vision should be something to consider. Now you have a large audience for your pieces and many people in the industry know who you are. By opening that next door, you may be able to achieve something on a grander scale that would bring your work to the biggest audiences.
There are caveats, of course. With this change you would not get the weekly positive feedback from your followers and you would have to explore the benefits of patience. This is a deal breaker for some. Combat shooters and others that live under the “deadline every minute” lifestyle would take a one-way walk into the sea after a month or two of a long project.
But you have a gift that might be able to sustain you on a different path that would allow a homelife and a chance meeting with someone who may have never heard of you but would love the chance to share a cup of tea.
Good luck on your journey and thanks for taking us along this far.
This Post was the Reason for me to Register to your Site. In the Past I was (and still am) a regular Reader of your Site and gathered a lot of Information from you. Thanks for that! But this Post is truly the most important Post as it’s not about Tech or Gear but about Life. And at the End of the Day this is what drives us all. I wish you all the Best for 2013 and hope you will find your Balance! Greetings from Germany, Markus.
A very nice blog! I too am in the midst of trying to balance work & life, and some of your ideas raised are very interesting! For me the biggest problem is procrastination. I feel like I am working 100% of my time, but only 70% of my capacity. Whereas, I should be working for 70% of my time (switching off for 30%) but working at 100% my capacity! All the best for 2013 Philip.
Philip – wow. Just wow. Thank-you for this.
I’m a long-time reader of your blog, with no intention of posting until now. I felt compelled to register just so I could respond to your beautifully-written and emotionally-charged post.
Reading your blog, I saw so much of myself – I worked in a Studio as an editor for four years, then (like you) switched to freelancing for the past six. I also jump on a plane for most every job and seem to spend more time in the air than on the ground these days (a client recently asked me why I didn’t own a car, and I responded, “Car? What do I need a car for? I live on an airplane!!”)
With the birth of my son six months ago, I’m now committed to trying to find a better work/life balance and spending more time working in my own city. Many, many of the same issues you mention in your blog have been issues in my life as well.
This is the lifestyle that I chose and I wouldn’t trade the past six years for anything – but I’ve been struggling with trying to find that balance and finding a way to finally make it happen. I always seem to pick the job over my family and friends and reading your post gave me more than just ideas on how to change my lifestyle – it gave me HOPE.
Thanks so much for opening up and sharing this with us.
We are often reminded that the production is all about the story. Thank you for reminding us that the story is ultimately about life. God bless Mr. Bloom.
I’m very sorry to learn of the loss of your best friend and I know exactly what that means having lost three such friends in 2012 to cancer and heart attacks.
This excellent and moving post has me looking back in shame at all the mistakes I have made in my career as a freelance photographer 18 years your senior. Burning of the midnight oil till dawn ‘working’ on what at the time I considered to be more important than actually caring for the one(s) I loved and whom loved me until they couldn’t take it anymore.
To wit, I find myself mourning the separation of what was until a year ago the most cherished relationship of my life thus far all because of some pictures I was supposed to deliver the day before yesterday that weren’t actually needed for months hence. Sheer and blatant stupidity all in the name of fear of not working again.
Nothing is more important than learning the delicate but paramount balancing act of the work/life ethic.
Freelancing is a precarious and insecure business though I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I just didn’t learn the rules early enough so the mistakes and misery I have brought upon myself and those I cared for are costly and irreversible reminders of the need to heed these lessons you have so eloquently laid out for us your followers.
As I look back at what has been a fabulously successful career thus far I ask myself whether I am happier mulling over a bunch of photographs or would I be happier to be at one with my partner. The answer is a no brainer – or should be.
Thank you so much for posting this important message. It means a lot to read you and know that you are saving yourself from burn out before its too late.
I hear you, Phil. My work life balance is a little out of whack too but the other way round. I’ve been a stay at home dad but now need to figure out how to extend my shooting hours. Haven’t taken an assignment for a while and also trying to develop a long term project that has been consuming my thoughts for years. 2013is the year I must figure this out. I have a wonderful home life but no work life. Sometimes I crave the company of colleagues and peers or frankly, the company of more adults. So the imbalance can go both ways. Perhaps I should compose a blogpost from this perspective and maybe we can compare notes later in the year. Good luck in your endeavours. – Paul Treacy.
thank Paul. Good to hear from you…happy new year!
My condolences for your loss, Philip. This post really spoke to me in a lot of ways and I can honestly tick a few of those symptoms you listed. I am also in the midst of trying to find this work/life balance and I am way too young to be constantly stressed out over looming deadlines and silly emails. Your last statement about being passionate for life is so profound and is really what we all should strive for. I took a personal trip to Paris this past Summer and it was more inspiring and refreshing then anything I have done in the last four years. We need to remind ourselves as freelancers to take more “mini-retirements” every few months to recharge. Thank you for continuing to be an inspiration to me and so many other filmmakers. I wish you all the best in 2013 and I know you will find balance in your life.
thank you for your honesty and transparency!
Started my own business 15 years ago and it feels the same way. I am the boss, but often the “real” boss is the desire not to fail, to keep on doing, doing, doing. Being busy is a sign that you are “worthy” and can keep those demons away that say you are not. All “professional services” people suffer this- being only as good as the last job….
I’m reading this…so in the same place….
I like the expression “workaholic”, because it can be like that a lot of the time and is as hard as that to change.
Philip let’s start a business, I’ve got about ten ideas…then we can get others to do the heavy lifting? See its addictive!!!
Happy New Year from sunny Turks and Caicos.
Thanks Philip, it was great to read this since for us artists of any kind (i’m a musician, now starting in film) usually our work means everything, our “hobbies” are usually also work (that’s awesome!). But, since we are so passionate about what we do, we tend to overlook some other areas, i try not to work until late at night, care about my girlfriend and friends, but i still think i can do more. And this post was great too remember that, i think i’d help every reader on this site.
All the best from Chile.
Seems you just have a problem with routine and workload. I freelance and not as busy as you, so I just do work basically when I feel like. If money is important to you then do more work. Or if you want more ‘life’ time, then take less work. It really is incredibly simple. I can give you my details if you want to pass the work on 🙂
thanks for taking the time to write. you are lucky to have a simple solution that works for you.
Thank you… Thank you very much for sharing this.
Well done, by identifying the problem yourself you are well on the way to overcoming it!
Love your work, love your blogs, having less of them won’t make them less significant. To take a term from my musician mates less is more …………….
Happy 2013, Derek
Visiting your site has always helped me out on a lot of big purchases and decisions in my young video career. Your posts have actually made me care less about which tool I have at my disposal and focus more on my film making craft. (* although I just bought your pocket dolly 😉 )
This past year has been a struggle because I am dealing with a lot of similar topics discussed in this post ( gf unhappy about not seeing me, accepting every job thrown at me, editing till all hours of the night). I’m in the process of working for a Football team creating video content for them as well as establishing my own video business. Its a little overwhelming and exciting all at the same time but after reading this post I’m actually seriously going to address some concerns of mine.
This past summer I had the opportunity to create a tribute video for the closing of my local football team’s stadium which is near and dear to my hometown’s heart. The feeling I got while watching people react to the video in the stadium was exhilarating and I was filled with emotion. It wasn’t just because I was happy to show it off but it was because of what I went through to finish it. The night before my best friends wedding i was supposed to be with him and having a few beers yet being a perfectionist there I was at work finishing up the final edits and fixing an issue with the export. I remember being at the wedding feeling terrible because although I showed up that night at his house around 1am and his wedding day was amazing it still made me wonder if all the work was worth it. I was letting my work get in the way of one of the most important days in my best friends life and it really bothered me. ( I can’t even imagine what you are going through concerning your best friend and I am deeply sorry). I
My point in sharing this with you is that i totally understand and appreciate your post. I know that i am going to continue with video production but establishing better time management, a healthy life style and creating an overall balanced life is something which is extremely important to me. I’m glad you are addressing this issue in your life as well and you must know your work will only get better with a well rested clearer mind.
Thanks again for all your advice and I continue to look forward to all the updates and blog posts on your site. Even if the amount of posts is a little less I think this post is a clear indication of the thought provoking and useful information we can continue to look forward to in 2013.
Not a lot of people will be this honest like you do.
Give less, Take more!
Give normal.. Live normal!
(you gave us for 10 Philips on insights, blogs, reviews and info)
Thanks & best wishes for 2013!
Philip, this is by far the best blog post you have ever written. You are such a stand up guy. I am so very sorry for the loss of Marko. It’s amazing how things like that can put life into perspective.
Thanks for sharing all that you do. Thanks for being so open and candid. Thanks for giving all the hard-working creatives out there a good kick in the tush and a dose of reality. Thanks for your authenticity.
You will be in my prayers. Live well my friend.
P.S. I had noticed you lose some of your dashing looks over the years. It was obvious the work was having a toll. Nice to see you’re pulling yourself back together. Based on your Dec 2012 photos, keep it up and you will be a candidate for Daniel Craig’s replacement for the new bond. 🙂
Thanks for sharing such a personal post Philip, and I’m sorry for the lose of you friend Marko.
I appreciate what you said at the end of your post, “Shooting is my passion, but I am more passionate about my life.” That is a very balanced view in my opinion. Money and success are not bad things, but when they take top priority things in life do get out of balance. I have to fight the same balance issues as well. Thankfully I don’t have to travel as much as you!
Hope this year brings more balance and even greater quality work.
Sorry for your loss. I hope things will get better in 2013! As far as work goes, on the bright side- work you do matters… You are people’s person and you inspire many of us to get up and do something- that’s something worth doing.
Keep in mind, you’re an inspiration.
Thanks for sharing this personal post. I’ve been tracking your site for years, but not felt the need to create an account, log in and comment until now. The second half of 2011 and first half of 2012 was my ‘hard year’, having lost two close friends to cancer, and a feline companion of 14 years. Then a bicycle accident and broken bone and…
Hang in there.
Your passion, energy, amazing productivity and virtuosic results have set the bar.
Keep doing the good work Philip, we’re counting on you.
Thanks for sharing that, I’ve been through something very similar.
I try not living with regrets now, I commend you for being human. Transparency is key to helping.
My two kids have forced a work life balance. So.. Go start something…
Thanks for sharing, now stop reading and enjoy it all. It does pass quickly.
I hear ya. I had an inkling where this post was going in the first couple of paragraphs, which was confirmed when I got to the photo of you and Marko.
I work for myself, and just went through the same process about 12 months ago, and it took 6 months to calm the workload down because of the long projects – that and I’m usually booked out 8-12 months in advance.
For me it was two things that happened at opposite ends of the spectrum. At the end of 2011, my wife and I had our first child and without realising it I had taken up more work (as the sole income earner and also as many dream jobs landed on my lap) rather than minimising it at a time when I should be home more.
Then my grandfather died and I realised I hadn’t seem him much in the last 2 years. This was the guy who passed down the photography bug in the family. It was a strange coincidence that I was working on this clip for him at the time he passed away (full story on the vimeo page).
Its a common theme for creative types though. While The Hobbit was in principal photography stage I skipped over to NZ and caught up with one of the main camera crew to discuss a few industry topics. He was saying exactly the same thing at the time, about being away from family so much (and they travelled with him!).
I don’t post/reply here much, but I’d like to say thanks for the research and effort you put into everything Philip. It sounds like your work cycles are very similar to mine, so you may not work out how to balance it all until about April/May – a couple of months out from the end of the last big job you had booked prior to making this conscious decision.
Thats how it worked for me anyway. I had to ride out the storm so that I wasn’t shooting myself in the foot professionally after all the hard work. It paid off in the end. I didn’t say yes to anything from May onwards, and I was still busy for the rest of the year!
Things just have their way of falling into place.
Sorry to hear of the loss of your dear friend. He wouldn’t want you to feel guilty, although I’m sure he’d be happy to hear you adjusting your life balance for the better 🙂
There is a lot of truth about your post! I enjoyed reading it very much and I must confess I was very surprise – for a guy, you did write quite a bit. Finding balance between work and life is it very important. your work gives you the satisfactory feeling and accomplishment that gives you the stamina and good self steem to face work with much conifdence. At the end of the day, it is important to have a personal life. give a little time for friends even if it is over Skype! If the new year and recent events help you set up new goals and resolutions, good for you! 365 chances full of opportunities! Will most definitely look forward to reading your posts and looking at your work. Good luck!
What a timely and honest post, not the easiest story to share, but i appreciate that you did. I’m a bit older than you, so I can relate all too well to what you’re saying. For those of you getting started, Phil is speaking the truth, listen to him well.
Your thoughts about insecurity really hit home, especially when you’ve got to provide for others and not just yourself. Taking whatever gig comes along so you can put a little cash in the bank is familiar territory. I guess it’s good to hear that you’re not the only one dealing with these issues. Your added perspective is good food for thought.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about these very issues and what it means to follow your passion while at the same time preserving a quality of life that goes beyond the job. I think you’ve got it right, or if nothing else, you’ve found a good starting point.
Thanks for writing this, it couldn’t have come at a better time. I hope we can all find a path that allows us to live a complete life. It can only serve to make us better at what we do and more importantly, better at who we are.
I took your class in Seattle a couple of years ago. I follow your posts and much of your advice. Glad to read this. Cancer changes everything. My wife died of it in 2005. Many friends before and since. It taught me there are no ‘second takes’ in life. No neat wrapup like a tv sitcom. It taught me once and for all to live now. Not tomorrow. It changed everything. It has now, unfortunately, taught you. I wish you all the best in working through this and into the next phase, which I think is the wisdom of age, as opposed to self assured intensity of youth, which I lived out far too long. Now I just think of myself as an intense older guy, who is willing to stop and enjoy each day. Best of luck and have a great year.
By the way, I forgot to sign my post. I’m Al. An alias is too impersonal for this kind of post.
I have been a daily visitor for years to your site.
I’ve been a long-time lurker, and, a great admirer of what you have built here. More importantly, I admire HOW you have done it.
Dignity, class, grace, and humor. (I can bet your mum is certainly proud of you, no doubt in my mind).
I decided to finally sign up after reading your post tonight. I almost made it to to Austin in December (deposit paid and everything), but for my own personal reasons, I couldn’t make it – hopefully next year.
Another of my “daily reads” is Rob Hagarty’s site – aphotoeditor.com; great place too.
How ironic, that I found this post there tonight:
Perspective indeed. I’ve certainly been guilty of losing perspective in my life because creativity can begin to feel like a drug. However, as you know by now Philip, people from all over the planet appreciate you. Respect your opinion. Love your skills as a story-teller. Trust your candid words. And, (for me at least) laugh at your jokes (well, at least most of them – under appreciated by many). That is good work for anyone. Amazing times we live in, no doubt.
It’s 1AM in Salt Lake City – I’m truly sorry for your loss.
Thanks for posting this.
Having only just gone freelance after years of salaried work, I’m already guilty of most of what you’ve said.
Very sorry for your lost Phil, ten years ago I lost a very close friend of mine and some feelings are the same, I wish I could have more time to pass with her…
BTW: Italy here, sorry for my english, can’t for you thoughts on the VG900 (did you tried it?) and…. what is “rumpy pumpy”?
Didnt like VG900..rumpy pumpy is slang for….erm…shagging 🙂
Blown away!! I can only find these words: Thank you so much for this message from the heart! I shall take more care now (blushes).
As a keen DSLR user / filmmaker, I check your website regularly.
I also freelance at Sky News a lot as a producer, where everyone is obviously very upset about Marko passing. A mailshot went out today linking to this article, so I immediately read it.
So much of what you said rang true with me. I quit my job at ITN and went freelance in 2004 to allow me more time to work on interesting projects and to have more of a life. To this day, it is probably the single best decision I’ve ever made. But over the last few years, I have found myself literally working all the time.
If I’m not in the newsroom, I’m at home editing, or proofing reading articles, chasing up copy and images, working out a budget for a job, waiting hours for a timeline to render…the list goes on…
Just before the new year, I drew up a contract with my girlfriend…setting a cap on the number of shifts I am allowed to take per month, the number of days in a row I am allowed to work and the number of double shifts I can do a month. I fully intend on sticking to it — for the sake of my physical health and my relationship with her!
It is a good position to be in, don’t get me wrong. I’d rather have the problem of working too much than getting no work and wondering how the hell I’m going to pay my bills. But, as you have outlined, you have to be very strict with yourself…otherwise you burn yourself out.
Anyway…keep up the good work!
Thats such a good idea! Worried me that this is going round Sky…was a bit rude about someone who is still there! 🙂
Thanks Phil for such an honest and open assessment of life. Marko will be missed, a truly lovely bloke. Good luck in your endeavour to spend more time with the folks you love, it will be worth it.
thanks Spiney. Have a great 2013. Maybe bump into you at some point. I would like that!
Thanks for a fantastic post! This reminds me of a wise anecdote I read recently, which seems to be circling social networks:
A meteorology professor stood before his Meteorology 101 class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a very large and empty glass mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a jar of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open spaces between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar and of course the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous yes.
The professor then produced two cans of beer from under the table and then proceeded to pour the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the grains of sand. The students laughed.
“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things — your family, your partner, your health, your children, your friends, your favourite passions — things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
“The pebbles are the other things that matter, like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else — the small stuff.
“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical check-ups. Take your partner out dancing. Play another 18.
“There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first — the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers.”
Respect to you Philip for your honesty and sharing. A subject close to my heart and this is my first comment on your blog.
The work/life balance problem in my experience is largely a result of the permanently connected and online world we live in now which consumes so much time dealing with the ever increasing email and internet distractions. There is an endless amount of interesting blog posts, reviews/ articles to read, free and paid webinars/ training etc. And of course social media is a distraction and another habit we turn to for a quick fix in moments of boredom (as if we haven’t got enough work to be getting on with…)
The Internet is the best and the worst thing that has happened to us all! I started my video business 22 years ago. The problems so many of us have now didn’t exist in the early days pre-internet and pre-computer advances, when you got on with editing without distraction or endless possibilities computers now allow to tweak an edit.
My question to you Philip and us all – is a life outside work in our industry and online world we live in now achievable after years and years of habit being a perfectionist and workaholic? as you say the weekend often is just another day and we work to silly o’clock any day of the week. Has our work become our identity? Can we take a week holiday and switch off our phone and book a hotel without Wi-Fi? Or is the thought of coming back to an email inbox with hundreds or thousands of emails too daunting? A problem worse for you am sure with the large following you have and the extra time it takes to blog regularly.
Smartphone and iPad fever with fast Internet is everywhere. We cannot escape the temptation to check on work related activities. “Renting office space” – yeah you can shut the door, but the tools to connect us back to work are everywhere, the iPhone in our pocket and the iPad’s and MacBook’s etc scattered around.
The answer to all this is a work in progress to so many of us. Part can go away by delegation, employing or saying no. For some it comes down to discipline and pricing ourselves out of reach to the mass that the consume the time we wish to keep for ourselves. Whatever the answer is, the daunting prospect is finding a life with meaningful and lasting connections with people outside all of the “work and stuff” that has interested us and been our hobby and life for years…
I truly hope you find answers and a way forward for you Philip. We will be interested to see in 12 months time if you decide to do a follow up post to share your progress!
All the best for 2013!
Six + years ago I started following your blog from the early days when you posted about the EX-1 and the Letus lens adapters. Not being one to comment I’ve found that this has probably been one of your most personal posts.
Having lost my brother to brain cancer two years ago, he also taught me about the balance in life between following ones passion and taking care of ones self. I hope you find time to grieve over the death of your friend and brother Marko and spend more time with your family and friends. Two posts a week of quality content (mixed with a little humor) is alot to give.
It is in this way, I/we also hope to be reading and watching you in a couple of years as you review the latest camera’s and someday share pictures of your children you dream about today.
Wishing you and your family the best for 2013.
Thanks for an incredibly personal post, Phillip. Sorry about the loss of your friend.
I share the same birthday as your Mum!
After having been freelance for ten years before getting a full-time gig, I can only recommend that you force yourself to take the time. There will always be a project on the horizon, some gig around the corner, or just a producer sometimes wanting you to hang around the phone for that unscheduled pre-pro because the client can’t get everyone to settle on a time.
My trick was to buy airline tickets as far in advance as possible, thereby forcing me to deal with that ultimate deadline: My Life.
I’m sorry for your loss. Keep up the great work, and get to work on your great life.
Nice post Philip, definitely a good note to start on in 2013!
I have had a similar problem with my gf and work, but I think I am starting to get a good hold on the life vs work front now.
I planned on doing SFX in the US many years ago before I did camera work, but met my gf and couldn’t bare leaving her, so made a decision and have now bought a place here. Even if the work dries up, which hopefully it won’t, I’m glad she’s there for me. Although I would have loved to have tried out LA for a while! 😉
Sorry for your loss, hope you have a good new year!
Great post Phil – food for thought for most of us now… and for all of us, eventually at some point in our lives.
I don’t work in the same profession as you, but like you (and many others), I struggle with many of the challenges of work versus life and the points you raise so well. A friend recently gave me the following points to consider;
– Accept what you can’t change. Move on and enjoy something else.
– Accept that sometimes ‘good’ is enough and things don’t have to be ‘perfect’
– Accept that others around you won’t do things as well as you want sometimes…but that’s ok
– Sometimes when you make things change or happen, not much has actually really changed, except your perception of the situation.
– Live in the moment. Stop, Pause, look around, think and enjoy all what you have.
I was sorry to read of your friend and your loss. Last year a friend of mine died in an accident and her partner chose the following words to sum up her zest for life. I think they are useful words for anyone to consider.
“Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.”
Although it doesn’t rate in my books as a ‘classic’ film by any means. There are some lines from ‘The Weatherman’ in which Dad (Michael Caine) tries to advise his son (Nicolas Cage) duing his marriage breakup. In a different context I think the final line it sums up adult life in many respects
Cage;: We both just think it’s better for the kids.
Cainel: David, sacrifice is… to get anything of value, you have to sacrifice.
Cage: I know that dad, but I think that if we continue down this road, it’s gonna be too detrimental for the kids. It’s just too hard.
Caine: Do you know that the harder thing to do and the right thing to do are usually the same thing? Nothing that has meaning is easy. “Easy” doesn’t enter into grown-up life.
….Happy New Year, Have a great 2013 and best health and happiness.
Thanks for opening up with this post Philip. I’ve experienced all of this over the past year as its been my first step in this industry and as a freelancer. On top of it all, last week found out my girlfriend is pregnant so things will be changing even more and I’ll need to make sure I leave room for ‘life’.
Been wanting a veteran to talk about this topic for a while as its a huge thing but never really spoken of. Thanks for challenging everyone to think about whats important and acknowledging this is something that never goes away no matter how long or successful you become.
your words quiet moved me to tears and i started to think about my own situation. I’m sorry for the great loss of your friend and wish you to come closer to your personal life balance in 2013.
Thank you for this a very helpful read. I am 25 and have been working freelance for the last few years along with starting my own production company in an attempt to find work shooting.
I am at the point now where Work is taking over life I have a rented office that I spend far to much time in and a Laptop I spend all of my time using.
I hope I can find a better balance but also think trying to get started in this work and get to a point where you can afford to relax a little means you have to go a bit mad and work the 100 hour weeks we all know to well.
I work in Lincolnshire so always find it difficult to find work but I am now fully supported by shooting so hopefully I can make it.
Again thank you for the helpful advice
Really Great blog, Phillip! I had a similar epiphany this past year. I worked straight on a full-time gig and a major freelance project from January 1st till Easter of 2012. I had 3 days off. When I got done and was hanging out with my two kids, they kind of rejected me, as they thought I’d just leave and wouldn’t be there for them. They had only had their day in passing, and I vowed to not do that again. The 10 minutes a day I would see my kids from one job to the next for almost 4 months was pathetic. My father was that way, and I vowed to not do that again. Now Fridays are daddy days and we don’t miss those for anything.
CHeers and kudos for being so honest and open. You are an inspiration to all…. I can’t also wait to see the shootout, so get to work!!!!!
Peace and much respect to you and yours in 2013.. I’m also going to welcome my first daughter on February 18th… 15 years after I went freelance! To the exact day. Anything is possible and now I”m regulated and happier than I was working all those crazy hours…
My girlfriend/ partner and I read this together and it could have not been more relevant to our lives. Of all your posts (which we have read for several years now) this will be one that we will strive to learn and grow from. Thank you for putting yourself out their and remember…your more than just a son, uncle, or best friend…you inspire and give hope to a world of us.
Hope this gets to you and we hope your 2013 is everything you’d have it be.
Carson & Jessi
thanks guys. really appreciate it
I know that having kids really hit home for me. Having your first really makes you think about family especially. You are obviously very good at what you do. So that wont leave you 😉
Sometimes its best to turn off your phone, close your PC and just do what you say – take the wife out and enjoy time together or with family. You can’t turn back the clock, but you can still make time like you say and spend time with the people you care about.
Great post, Philp!
RE Romantic Relationships: Although it is helpful to have a partner in the same field, I’ve found what’s most important is that both people prioritize their careers similarly. I’m an actor and filmmaker, and my wife is an attorney. We have very different careers, but we also both understand the pressures of a demanding, time consuming job. This makes it easier for her to understand why I need to be gone for 4 months on a gig, and easier for me to understand why she needs to be at the office late (or through the night) preparing for a trial. However, if necessary, we would both drop our careers in a second for our family, because, at the end of the day, that is by far the most important thing in our lives. Just some more food for thought I guess.
Good luck and much success in 2013!
Great post. I did notice you were looking much healthier these days. I’m thinking if you can make that commitment, and follow through on it, you will be successful getting the balance you’re looking for too.
Hope 2013 is a great year for you.
Everything you have said is spot on Phillip, and in an ideal world everybody would make more time for there family and friends,unfortunately it’s not possible for everybody, financial pressure can be a great motivator, to work harder and longer, and especially at the early stages of your career, I learnt The hard way, divorce and separation from my child, but you do learn from your mistakes, now I’ve got a younger wife and children, I’m more selective in what work I do, if anything I’m more in demand, I’m fortunate enough to travel abroad on average 8 weeks of the year, working for Sony, Fox and WB, shooting behind the scenes interviews, I just love this job, and when I’m back in the Uk, I work on commercials, but I’ve had the opportunities to work full time in News in the Middle East, but for me personally my family comes first, keep up the great work Philip, I’ve been a great admirer of yours from the beginning, I hope you get to spend more time with your family and friends in 2013. Ps your mums fit, don’t tell your dad I said so.
I too have lost a number of close family and friends over the last 5 years, so I feel for you. When I started out on my own in photography 25 years ago, an older acquaintance gave me a very useful bit of advice that has rung true over the years, he said that 20 percent of the work I would do would be exciting and stimulating while the 80 percent would be routine stuff and it’s pretty much held true. I was exactly your age when I had a similar ‘wakening’, I was single with family and friends and earning a good living, bought a house, decent car, nice photo equipment but…… I felt I was looking down a long straight road, where did it go and why was I on it? If I couldn’t share the journey with someone else, what’s the point? my work had become a substitute for what I really needed which was a family of my own.
To cut a short story short, I found my girl, had a son and still managed to enjoy what I do, I work and earn less but am happier. When I say I work and earn less, that doesn’t mean to say I don’t put 100% into what I do, I still sometimes work unsocial hours when I have to but my family make me more determined to produce quality work and that for me is the key, quality rather than quantity.
What’s the point of my ramblings?, the point is that it’s achievable if you want it badly enough. My missus often says that I should have been a councilor, it’s always easier seeing things from the outside so i’m going to be forward and suggest one avenue you might want to explore. I emailed you a few weeks ago to ask about workshops that you might be holding the UK in 2013, you kindly replied saying that nothing was planned. No problem, I understand you have made your commitments worldwide, you have said that you want to cut down on the international travel and get more UK work, hopefully you realise that you have a lucrative market for UK based workshops ready and waiting? The explosion in DSLR video means there must be shed loads of stills photographers needing a thorough grounding in video production, count me in. I’m not trying to tell you what to do ( You may hate training?, but the opposite comes across) just suggesting a way that you could balance you work back toward ‘home’. It’s also a win win for you, need 100 people to extra in your video?, you’ll end up having them on your workshop mailing list.
Just to say, love your site, have a great 2013 and hopefully look forward to meeting you this year.
Very insightful and thought provoking blog post.
As quite a few people have already mentioned your advice has come at the right time. I’m wanting to focus more on making videos and being involved in the creative process, but I realise now not at the expense of friends and family.
My experience so far with video work is that the perfectionist streak lends itself to creating well made videos, but the time taken to do so is staggering.
It will take a very disciplined person to say “that’s enough” despite seeing more areas for improvement. Fixed deadlines always help though.
You mentioned in a recent tweet “Apologies for lack of posts on my site of late”. No need to apologise – there is already a whole wealth of content you’ve posted to inspire and inform, so thank you for that.
Really hope you enjoy life this year again,
Thank you for the article Philip. I was lucky enough to learn these things a few years ago when I was about your age now.
I’ve had a very similar career to yours, 16 years on staff working in recording studios as an engineer, 8 1/2 years freelance working on advertising, record albums, feature films etc.
The best thing I ever did for my work/life balance was move into a smaller place 5 years ago. (I didn’t need the extra space I had anyways). It was a very simple epiphany, If my bills were lower I didn’t have to work as much. Working part-time now I can easily get by, when I’m busy I can afford to take some time off and spend it with friends and family. HTH.
I have started my life turnaround as well, you have plenty of examples on here that I can relate to, and some that I am blindly driving towards. When I have a bad day, reading your blog lifts me up. I also have used your review to purchase equipment. Last year was a rough year for me, hopefully this year things will improve.
I am buying a new house and my office is going to be a pod in the Garden. A friend of mine that works from home gets the keys off his wife in the morning, she kicks him out in the afternoon and takes the keys off him. Simple and brilliant.
Also I have been pushed into reading the 4 hour work week, 4 hour body and 4 hour chef, these heavy tomes are suited to the freelance lifestyle and you can implement as much as you want. Thing is it works.
Sorry to hear that your friend has left you, but he probably will tell you straight to stop moping and sort yourself out.
You are a great bloke and provide those of us with your work hope and a realisation that things in this business are possible. I know at times I come across as a troll, but I am in full support of you and your endeavours.
At the crossroads hindsight is a wonderful gift, get your life in balance and learn to say no, and the biggest thing I learnt last year was to vet your clients. This year I am vetting all my clients and learning the no word. I too hate feeling like a zombie at three in the morning waiting for a render which your client doesn’t have the courtesy to shut up and watch it without talking. Clients are so rude.
Also another bit of advice that someone from a strange and specialised background gave me was to walk away from negative people. I just stand up and walk away now. It works. Hope your New Year is a lot better, use your talents do a 3 minute piece dedicated to your mate, play it at the wake.
God I do ramble,you are with friends here, all the best Rich
Philip: Best post you have written. It reminded me of how fortunate I am. I have no big name clients, no fame, but I work at home, make a good living and I get to spend a lot of time with my beautiful wife and (almost) five kids! My advice to you: Lose half your clients by doubling your prices and spend the extra time getting married and having kids!
I have never written before on your blog, but I have been reading your site daily for years now. It has become a staple in my daily routine when I return from work. I always seem to feel too ill-learned compared to all the professionals that comment or contribute on your site that I just sit in the back ground feeling that I don’t have anything to offer (yet). I have learned so much, though, that I feel I have had an incredible educational journey with/from you and all that have contributed to your site. So thank you from the bottom of my heart for your passion, dedication, and inspiration to those of us like me.
When I read this today, I was utterly compelled to write a comment. What a powerful message! You truly have inspired me like no one else in life. Why? Because I have envied a life in the filmmaking world since I was a 18 (I am now 52). I have felt for most of my life that it’s groundhog day. I wake up everyday, without change, wondering how I will be able to make a career in this field. I KNOW that this what I am supposed to be doing in life without any doubt in my mind. But getting there has been a life long battle. You have given me great confidence that I can and will be able to make a go of it.
I am truly sorry for you loss. Your broken heart is palpable. I won’t pretend to be in your shoes because every life is unique with only some similarities. I know how much time, effort, and loss of life can be when one is married to work. I am on the receiving end in my household. My wife has had an online business for 11 years. She works tirelessly at least 18 hours/day x 6-7 days a week. It is a constant struggle to feel successful with the fear that maybe tomorrow will be the last day in business because of some unfortunate mishap.
You have put too much of a indelible mark in the filmmaking world not to have continued success. I am grateful that you have come to conclusions that will make you even a better, happier, healthier, and more rounded filmmaker. If not for anything else but my own selfishness to continue to visit, read, and learn from one of the best 🙂 I hope and pray that I get to meet you, shake your hand, take one of your courses, go to one the “meet ups”, and tell you in person “job well done, my friend”. Living in Cincinnati, OH doesn’t lend itself to most of the places you go, but I am hopeful.
Thanks so much Phil for this one! Please change “work of a freelancer” with the words “passion” or “dedication”… If you do so, your best friend Mark will know “somewhere in heaven” that you – maybe – did not spent enough time with him the last couple of years, but you gave the world a lot of your passion and dedication… And best friends always know what that means (to all of us)! Thanks again for your wise thoughts!
A very similar thing happened to me this past Thanksgiving (American’s day to stuff our faces) my father was crushed to death. So I completely understand how you must feel, most of what you said I could just swap names. It to had given me a wake up call on my own life and some of my goals. When I was working full time freelance I was in a very similar position. These days I’ve figured ways to do what I’m insanely passionate about and take on the projects that I either believe in or are my own passion projects. All while making time for my wife and daughter. I just thought I’d say I enjoyed the post, as I usually do on the site.
Cheers from the US
Don…my heart goes out to you. I truly hope this year you and your family find a way to deal with this tragedy. With much positive thoughts going your way. P
Thank you I appreciate the kind words, my prayers go to you and Mark’s family
Very good column – thank you for this. A side note: having worked with Caleb D. for a couple of years, I can firmly say that he’s probably not the sort to sit around and pleasantly answer questions (ie, he’s a bit of a pill, even though enormously talented.) Even if you were married to one of his lovely daughters. His wife is quite nice though, so you’ve got quite a family you’re marrying into.
Great article. I was nodding affirmatively the way through, except when I was shrugging from indifference.
I’m a 43 year old freelancer, and have been freelancing for 20 years. I work in TV and feature post, which arguably requires more dedication of time than most other disciplines of the biz. In addition I have my own projects in various forms, and while I don’t take it to bed with me, I totally get the picture of it dominating every waking hour otherwise. Mercifully I have an office away from the house, though there was a time I had a home office, and that meant emerging from it only periodically to buy groceries and maybe see some sunshine.
No wife. No kids. No pets. No dependents. My parents are distant strangers, and I see my brother briefly every three years or so if we’re lucky. In a nutshell I have no family to speak of. I live in a house by myself, and swap a “hello” with the neighbours in those rare instances when our paths cross (out the door to the office early a.m., back home … early a.m.). Froma health perspective, I don’t drink, smoke or do drugs, but I might just as well have given I’m on my arse driving a computer day in, day out, seven days a week.
Anxiety, depression, obesity, despondence, frustration, I have in spades. All the women I’ve ever known in the biz (sage advice, BTW) were either already taken or lesbian, so no joy there. Doesn’t help that I’m shy, and even whenever I’ve gone out of my way to appear presentable I still pass as moderately ugly. Various attempts outside the biz have ended up in disinterest at best, open revulsion at worst. Morale – never terribly good to begin with – takes a dive that requires a good couple of weeks to pull out of whenever that happens. Am I heading for an early grave? Yup. Do I care any more? Nope. I live for my work, and my work is my life. With nobody to share my life with, to travel with, or visit a nice restaurant with, or go to the movies or museum or art gallery with, or share my home and its treasures (especially my art, books and movie collection) with, I don’t really care any more. Nobody cares, so why should I? I just dedicate my energies and passions to my work. Do I love my work? The question is irrelevant – to me work is like breathing. Do I love to breathe? Silly question. Do I want kids? Ask me ten years ago. Do I want to start up a blog and share my experiences? No, I have work to do.
Do I normally open up about this? No. Why bother? Nobody cares. All everybody wants from me is the work I do. The rest doesn’t matter. Even in the midst of a project, when I overwork (e.g. multiple all-nighters in a row), I’m usually fine. Then when that project wraps and I stop, I get sick. The recuperative week in bed is my holiday. Yay.
I’m only posting this here because I want you to know that yes, I can relate; that yes, I’ll vouch from first-hand experience the lessons you teach are valid and the opinions you hold are more than reasonable. I’m also posting this so that anybody who has read this far instead of giving up muttering “enough of the woe is me crap” (which it’s not – it’s just observations on how things are) can use my situation as a caveat, so they go over your advice again and resolve to make something more of their own situation/life/career.
Philip first of all and at this moment most important: condoleance. Reading your blog and regonize so many if not all, and that makes me reply on this blog for the first time since a long period. Lost attention for some reasons I will not explain but this blog makes me write.
I agree on all of it because it’s close, I regonize and I share the thoughts but missing one important fact. And that fact is you blog, the replies on the blog and the fact I read the blog after reading a tweet. Life is get digital real life friends become virtual friends, real life contact become ‘Whats app’ conversations. Last week I received a message of one of my best friends and he wrote via Whats app that he and his wife will break up and stop the marriage. New years eve I only picked up the phone for one call and celebrate with my daughter. Where is real life?
Life has become digital, people don’t have time, energy or motivation for real life contact. And that’ s not just a free lancer issue. It’s the 2K century way of life. And that’s the way how you lose connection with real life friends. People spending their time on social media…. Social media isn’t social. Social media is non social communication.
We met during three of the Dutch meetings but I’m sure you don’t know me, maybe just my nick name but not my real name. The same with the thousands of other Philip Bloom followers. All people in some kind of digital filmmaker friends bubble. Virtual friends, virtual collegues, virtual brothers in film making…. Just virtual. The sad thing this virtual communication is killing the real life communication.
It’s very sad your best friend has passed away, very sad. That’s hiw real life communication is, it got feeling, it’s alive, it’s breathing and sad enough it’s dieing.
My point: i think social media, digital life is a kind of cancer killing real life connections and communication. I can add a smily like 🙁 but does it feel the same as an arm around your neck by a friend? You can share your sadness about the loss of a good friend via digital media but does it feel the same as sharibg tears with friends while sitting next to eachother?
So you give ‘warnings’ about freelance work, workspace etc. But I think you should add a section about social media. It eats time, a lot of time. It eats…..
Sorry for your loss Philip,
I always thought you worked too much and traveled far and above any sane person in this business. Sure that makes you unique and famous talented dp but… Cutting your schedule in half will let you enjoy life, friends and family more while at the same time improve your health.
As a doctor once told me, being on a plane at 30k feet for 8hours is like having a chest X Ray. Now multiply that by 50 or a hundred depending how much you travel. That cant be a good thing.
More on the subject
:” For a typical 5hr cross-country flight in a commercial airplane, you are likely to receive 2 to 5 millirem (mrem) of radiation, less than half the radiation dose you receive from a chest x-ray. ”
Wish you health and a balanced 2013!
May of 2012 my son and his mother were murdered by her boyfriend. My son wa my only child. I spent most of my life pursing my dream of being a filmmaker and not enough with my son and his mom. I am 49 and I feel my future was stolen. There was so much I wanted to teach my son. He was 11 years old.
Keith that is absolutely awful. I am so so sorry. I cannot even come close to imagining your pain. I only hope you have found some kind of peace in dealing with this.
Thank you. My faith has been a source of strength for me. And my weekend fishing trips on the beach at Dauphin Island. The last time I talked to my son I promised to take him fishing. When I am out there on thr beach I can feel him there with me. And that give great peace. I also take photos and videos when the fish are not biting. I think you would yi would by proud. You have been a mentor for me since I began dslr filmmaking. Thank you so much!
While working until 9:30pm on NYE, I noticed your tweet mentioning you missing the celebration(s) while being stuck on a very long flight. I thought, I know what that’s like to work crazy hours because of something you enjoy. After reading your post, I decided for the first time to respond and tell you’re not alone. (btw: you were the reason I bought my first Letus 4 years ago). But, as much as your blogs are informative, it is your latest film I wait for. If you only shoot films and nothing more for the rest of your life, we would still be tuning in. Cheers!
Philip – Follow these and you will be fine…
(First off So sorry about your friend!)
– Work hard & Play hard
-Love lots & and give freely
-Make commitments & hold to them best you can
-Prioritize your life as if you where your best friend looking in on your life after you have passed. When it is all said and done, what would he say about you?
… Oh and post when you can not when “WE” want 🙂
I (as many of us) do the freelance self employed thing and I totally get what your saying. Thank you for being so open!
Nice one Phil. Thanks again.
Sorry to hear about your friend.
Can totally relate to the work/life balance. 2012 was non stop 16 hour days at many points…the life of an online editor, and I’m only 26! Definitely need to reassess the balance this year.
philip i’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and even though i came here for the camera comparisons and to get inspiration, I must say this is the single best post and the very best advice you’ve given. as a lucky new father of a one month old, i am beginning to realize that i must tackle the balance you spoke so eloquently about. my boy is growing up every day, and yet i’m editing late into the night. thank you philip so much for sharing your personal story in such a frank manner, as it could not have come at a better time for me.
i can’t wait to see the new shootout, but i will be patient, as i’m sure other readers. there’s a man behind this amazing site, and we will let him live his life. all the best!
I too lost my best friend, 6 years ago. He was the godfather of my second child, who was only 9 months old at the time. My friend was father of two young children himself and his death was ‘suspicious’: it was either a car accident or suicide. This blew me off my socks and it took at least two years for me to be able to put all of it in perspective. Losing someone in a car accident is devastating, but the suggestion of suicide added a lot of guilt feelings to the mix. It surely forced me to meditate on life and what I wanted of it. When something like this happens, it isn’t a wake up call, it is disaster!
I’ve always been a full time teacher of 16 year olds. At the same time, since I was a student myself, I had the ambition to do something with film. Fate decided otherwhise, though, but not a week goes by without me doubting if I made the right decision. Yes, I have a family (three young children) and my teaching job gives me plenty of free time during the holidays. I’m very aware of this and enjoy family life a lot. I have taken up amateur filming and photography and have a ‘passion project’ running. For me, going on a ‘film trip’ is relaxation. But I often regret not fulfilling my initial dream of professional film making. At the same time, I’m very much aware that being a professional filmmaker is very hard to combine with a family.
I’ve been reading your blog since the early days, and you taught me a lot of things. You have been my ‘guru’ since day one. As the years went by, I saw your blog grow, and your life got very busy, but at the same time, you made a lot of friends (thousands!) and you got in very close friendship with some of them.
I have two friends, who are like you, cosmopolitan: both of them together they must have seen all the countries of the world. I on the other hand, have seen a bit of France and Switzerland during the summerholidays, and that’s it. My life often is boring and gray, routine. Your Skywalker movie, beautiful as it was, at the same time hit a sore spot in my soul. I was so jealous of you!
Is it possible to weigh these against eachother? A family life versus seeing the world? I don’t think so. There is no yes or no answer here. You see, this is a personal thing and it has to do with temperament. Nobody can help you here and any advice it worthless. It is something YOU need to work through. But I can tell you this: over the years, through your writing, I have come to know you as a gifted, funny and kind human being. You have followed your dream and succeeded in more than one way. I’m absolutely sure that your friend Marko always has held, and perhaps still holds you close to his heart.
thanks Ivan. I am so sorry the what you have been through. I appreciate your words greatly. P
You really hit the nail on the head.
I’m a 3D artist and I worked freelance at home for 10 years. the first 6 months were great, just enough work to keep me busy and time to do my own thing. Then I got really busy and it stayed like that, things were very much as you described in your post, not knowing were the next job might come from and taking everything that was offered.
My wife would go to work and I would be on my own, she’d come home and make my dinner and I’d carry on working until gone midnight. At the weekends I’d still work all day when I should have been out and about. Sometimes I wouldn’t leave the house for a week and apart from my wife the only people I spoke to were on the phone. My health suffered, my social life dissapeared and it put huge strains on my marriage.
Eventually I got employed by one of my clients, I still work from home but now it’s a 9-5 job, things are much much better but after 3 years I still find it strange to stop working before dinner. I’ve lost weight, got fitter and I get out more. It’s was a bad habit to get into and I still have to stop myself sometimes and remember to go out and do something other than just working.
I’m glad you’ve managed to stop, look around and realise what’s really important. Sometimes it’s very easy to miss the most obvious things.
Phil, firstly my condolences.
Secondly, I reckon you’re a rare sort to have the balls and perspective to put out a post like this, made me laugh and reflect seriously (I’m 26, newly married). As always thanks for sharing and good luck making it happen in 2013.
It’s a hard learned lesson isn’t it? One my wife taught me when we got married. She lost a close friend and already understood. Now I try very hard to balance work and my wife, son and family.
You are brave for posting this, for now you have made yourself accountable. But you will do it because you WANT to. And you’re a better person because of it.
I know what you are posting all too well Philip! In our line of work we do not keep hours…we work them!
I am leaving NBC Videotape after 34 years… This is my third day of unemployment… I have been following you for the past four years faithfully… I have been thinking I would like to go off on my own and do various projects… I have a pretty good idea of what I am getting myself into!
Please know I really appreciate all that you do!
Kindest and sincerest warm regards,
Lisa J. Kassner
Thanks for this Philip, I’m just coming off a straight 38 hr shift at my “home office”, and I’m not proud of it. Editing seems loads more fun and efficient when I’m well rested and can actually trust my eyes, but I seem to always paint myself into this corner of do or die. That voice that says “I can sleep when I’m dead” is so tempting to listen to, because i have a lovely wife and kids to take care of, but that’s exactly it- if I never see them because I’m working constantly, what’s the point? I think they’d rather have a bit more of my time than iron clad security that all the bills will be paid on time. I have serious financial responsibilities but so did my dad, and he somehow managed to give me his best.
This year my resolution is to have enough faith and courage to give the quality time to my family that they need and deserve.
Sometimes we need to be given “permission” from those we look up to. In posting is blog, you’ve undoubtedly just helped hundreds of filmmakers like myself examine our priorities and make better life decisions this year.
Hope you get some needed rest and my prayers and condolences out to you, Ben
Thanks for sharing this with us! I had a very similar story (even with losing friend). My condolences for your loss, Philip.
Also I have to admit that you look great right now. Can you share with us what have you changed in your diet or what you started to do to look so healthy?
je suis sur la big island a hawaii. jai un modeste studio a te preter si tu veux venir visiter. jai aussi une moto. sens toi libre de venir, cest la moindre des choses apres tout ce que tu as fait pour moi.
mon numero de tel est le 808 989 8392
that is really kind of you. thanks!
Viens quand tu veux.
Thanks for this wonderful post Philip. I just started to work as a freelancer a couple of years ago and I’m already feeling this type of pressure (so does my girlfriend) so it was surely a wake up call. By the way I’m very sorry for your loss, but those who follow you for years now like me know how passionate you are and I’m pretty sure your friend, wherever he is, knows that too and understands. Thanks again.
PS You may start working less but PLEASE! Never stop writing your blog 😉
Massive improvement between Nov 2012 – 2013! well done!
As a newbe into this line of work must say i am scared of falling into this trap of a workaholic. Already i find many problems with how much i work and actually have been putting weight on myself. I need to remind myself that i don’t have to be the best as soon as i leave graduate but am scared of be unemployed. I do love what i do and jump at any opportunities but you are most definitely right that there are more important things in life.
Thank you for your post. I have learned a great deal.
thanks for sharing.
i’m sorry for your loss.
no words can help with such things…
keep doing what you do.
Thanks Phil for this great post. Thanks for being so genuine and honest. It’s a lot of food for thoughts.
I’m very sorry for your loss. I sincerely wish you find a great life balance in 2013, even if that means that we unfortunately hear less of you.
But for now, stop reading our replies, close your computer and go take time for yourself. 😉
Life is a Timelapse!
I know how you feel. Death has a way making us sort our priorities. It happened to me when my Dad died in April of 2012. I made a concerted effort to do better with work-life balance. I don’t travel nearly as much as you, but I am on the US east coast and I have many clients on the West Coast so I know it’s rough. The weight battle is always a struggle for me too. Kudos to you for staying focused and willing to make a change. Also, thanks for helping so many of us as you are an inspiration to us.
After all the camera reviews and movies are done, it’s just you and your family. I don’t want to be that guy who makes a a lot of money and my family hates me. And you don’t want to be that either Philip. I will be with you in 2013 blogging about my life change too!
First of all thank you so much Philip for sharing so much of your passion. In my opinion this doesn’t make you liable to any of us though 😉
After reading your post I stayed in the back of my head and later I stumbled upon this beautiful movie and what way better is their to communicate with you than by film
Quote from the film witch says it all:
“Where am I going?
Before I would have said to the end but now the end means something completely different to me.
What society views as sane is only based on what is widely seen as normal and normal means only having normal fears, normal views of reality and the normal limitation of any ordinary person.
Rebels and visionaries are rarely celebrated in their own time. But it is always their breakthroughs and consciousness that tomorrows reality will be build upon.
Only by defying societies expectations can you find the true uncertainty that divines adventure.
After lying at the bottom of Y couloir in Chamonix barely alive I realised that the end doesn’t mean pushing until death.
It means pursuing your dreams until uncertainty, risk and adventure begin to fade for at that point that what supposed to be magic will simply becomes routine the exact opposite of it’s intention.”
Good luck and I know that the force is already with you!
Sorry to hear about the loss, about the rest, yes its becoming more difficult to balance life and work, but not impossible.
I was going scrolling through my tweets earlier today and I came across your latest blog post. I am not sure if you remember me from the Keywest master class helping out you and Nino. I know we did not get a chance to talk a whole lot (the way you say “Nikon” to how us US people say it 🙂 ). I started in this business 9 years ago now as a freelancer and that’s all that I have done and I can not agree with you more about having a balanced work and home life as it is very hard as I learned back in (Jan) of 2008 when I was just busy with work and trying to take care of my mom who was battling breast cancer for a little over a year at that point when about 2 weeks before I was suppose to start working on a feature film down in south west florida she passed away and the only thing I could do was try to get back to work as that’s how I have been able to deal with it but in the middle of filming (in my room) I just broke down in tears as it was a very stressful day that day. So between Jan 2008-May2008 I worked on 2 national commercials and 2 feature films as a Camera Assistant I just about burned myself out and I pretty much took 4 months off and I really almost had a career change but I got a call back in late october for a corporate gig and I said to myself “let me do it and see if I still love it” and so then I was bitten by the bug again and gained new energy and a drive to say to myself “why wait for calls on 2nd unit camera assistant work when my main goal was to be a shooter full time”. So then I made the decision to be a full time DP and Camera Op while also doing Media Management. Now I have gone back and Camera Assisted for a couple of friends in which one of them was my mentor who encouraged me to just become a shooter and just forget about trying to do it the “Old Hollywood Way” and I have never looked back since. So balancing work and home life for me will be even tougher as I will be getting Married this coming May to a beautiful women who really supports me and knows how much I love what we as filmmakers do. She does not care how much money I make as long as I do what I love. So to end this comment I want to give me thoughts and prayers to your best friend Marko as I could not even imagine loosing my mate. I am very happy that you wrote this blog cause not many people talk about this side of the freelancing business and you just hit a home run my friend.
I wish you nothing but the best and a Happy New Year mate 🙂 And I hope we can meet again sometime this year.
I know this is going to the very end of a LONG page, but this article really hit home on this topic. I’m just starting myself and work in the advertising world. Money is great, but at the end of the day, what matters most?
I’d give this a thorough read if work is your life.
Oops. Looks like someone beat me to it.
Thank you. For me you just (re)focus once again, what really counts.
I think nobody wants the loss you have had.
But from time to time, anyone needs someone who will push us in the right direction.
Thank you for doing that.
So now, some of my “big ideas” for 2013 just get a bit smaller and therefor much easier to handle.
I started as a “freelancer” when I was 17, I am now 48 and still struggle with balancing work and life. Though today I no longer work as a “freelancer” for other producers, I am self-employed, and have been most of my career. I think being self-employed is particularly difficult if you want to have the same time-off and benefits as a “salary man” it’s just different.
I have known a few people in the restaurant trade and they have similar issues, but travel is not one of them, nor is not knowing how I’m going to make a dollar tomorrow, for me, I would rather live the life of a Gipsy filmmaker than any of the other careers I have tried.
That is not to say it’s not “expensive or costly” doing what I do, but to live another life you have to pay in other ways, I suppose it all comes down to what one thinks’ a “good life” is, and how it’s defined for ones self. Though having had other types of careers, I have always gravitated back to filmmaking in the end, I suppose this is what I like to do with my life, though I strive to make it a bit more lucrative!
Good idea to make a doc movie about people who work like that.
Happy Birthday and all the Best for Your Mother,
Thanks a lot for being so honest!
I’ve been struggling with this tension for years now … I’m afraid there are any easy one-size-fits-all solutions.
Having my first child was a shock (no more 4am-11am nights, etc. 😉 from which it took me about a year to physically recover.
Still, as soon as you get into the family-thing, your time shrinks, your budget enlarges, the sollicitations increase, leading to less and less creative/productive time. This can be seen as an opportunity to improve efficiency but it can also be quite frustrating.
Tragic loss of dear family members and/or friends also helped re-aligning priorities quite a bit…
I’m wishing you a more balanced year 2013 anyways!
Thanks for this Philip. Finding that balance is essential!
First and foremost many sympathies for your loss. Secondly, you have legions at your command Phillip. Invest in a few apprentices to help ease the workload. I know your addicted to the trenches and that is one of the problems with being a perfectionist. Try the life of a flaneur for a while. Who knows, maybe you might meet someone special.
Well said. I’m married with three kids and work two jobs. I dont see them enough. I read this from a Scottish Creative which really put things into perspective for me.
Happy New Year.
I Just quit my job at a huge production company in South Africa today.
Great post. Especially since those are the waters I’ll be swimming in soon. Good luck with everything.
Take care of yourself, you have enough interest in your amazing work that you can pick the projects that will make you happy and still pay the bills. I just want to also ask you how many cameras do you own and do you really need as much equipment as you do? You could probably pick a fraction of your equipment and achieve everything you need to, just sayin, there are many ways to cut back and still enjoy a good quality of life.
I attended a TV Photographer funeral last week. He was young, three kids, wife and a full life to live.
It was a sad day, but I could not stop thinking about many of the things you mentioned above.
Looking around that crowd I could tell what many were thinking, we cover death, death does not cover us.
But it does.
I am sorry to hear about your loss.
The community you have built is with you. The problem with living a large life is it is hard to live it small at times.
But I for one encourage you to live small so you can live large again, and your audience will be waiting for you.
In the U.S. ENG is a dying profession, and I find myself wanting to take the jump you took but am frankly too chicken to take the leap. Your words are good food for thought. Work, home life, what is important?
I started to shoot a little segment for your sequencing challenge last year.
Home life interrupted, and I did not finish it.
I cut it last week and thought you might enjoy a silly sequenced moment, “life, will find a way”
I hope we all have a great well balanced 2013!
Thanks Philip! All true!! 🙂 Keep on the good work!
How refreshing to read your “new years resolution” in the context of family, friends and health. I am a female shooter and I have felt an even greater pressure to balance work and life. Thank you for being so open in discussing things that are very hard for us to face. I have also decided to take a “sabbatical” from freelance work this year (I work a full time job as well) and spend more time with my husband and family. May 2013 be a year full of great and joyous memories made at the expense of our personal sacrifice and not at the expense of those whom we love the most. You take care my friend.
Phillip, sorry for your loss. If you find yourself over burdened with work, I would be happy to step in on a few projects for you. Best of luck and I hope 2013 is good to you. Cheers!
not quite my point Andrew. but cheers
not about too much work…about making sure it isn’t all you do…
Thanks for writing this! Our jobs should only fuel the things that really matter to us – and I can say that it has been the other way around for me in the past. It’s easy for me to get home, talk shop, lay in bed thinking about what I need to do, and wake up the next day heading out the door to do them. When at the end of the day, I’m working to support my family, and my daughters nor my wife really care when our next big promotion is 🙂
Thanks for being transparent enough to share! Appreciate you!
I think I recognize where you’re coming from. Personally, I attended too many funerals last year (2012).
We lost several amazing cameramen, guys who traveled the world but rarely took time off, to spend with family and take of themselves. The lesson is not lost. The bank account may be a little weaker, but I feel the body and mind are getting a little stronger. It’s very interesting taking the time to get to “know” oneself again, and rekindle those passions that led us into the business in the first place. Maybe the old adage is true, “with age comes wisdom”. I hope so.
Thanks for taking the time to write this, Phil. It’s what sets your blog apart.
This is such a common thing amongst the self employed. Work is very slow for me, and has been the last few years, although it has been a blessing in disguise in some respects. Last year my father passed away after having Parkinsons’s disease. He suffered from Parkinson’s related dementia and required a lot of looking after. If I had been busy like many freelancers with my work literally being my life I would have missed those precious last few years and experiences with him.
Like you, Phil, I used to be obsessed with camerawork, editing etc. I have friends too who were/are the same. Both of them came to despise the thing that they enjoyed, photography, as a result. One of them lost his marriage. Both of them had no real life outside of work.
When I hit my mid-30’s I decided I wanted to do the things I had always wanted to try before I was too old. I taught myself to swim after a lifetime of being afraid to go near water. This enabled me to take up white water kayaking, something I had always wanted to do since being a kid watching the BBC series Paddles Up! I tried climbing, went for long walks in the Brecons and Lake District. I went in for charity events like the Commando Challenge as well.
Through doing this stuff I found that there is far, far more to life than work and money. Through kayaking I now have a group of trusted friends who I can literally trust with my life. Great times, banter, and experiences, as well as seeing the world from a whole new perspective.
I get pestered to make kayaking videos of trips. I can’t be bothered as I’d rather be out there having fun myself! Too long behind a camera and you start to see everything though a camera lens. The world somehow becomes less real. I saw some fascinating things while operating a camera, but literally only saw them on TV because I was looking through a viewfinder at the time!
Something that freelancers need to be is disciplined. You don’t HAVE to work weekends, unless it is a big job or uber urgent edit that simply must be done by Monday. By keeping a disciplined measure of regular time off you aren’t being lazy. You are recharging. You can get new perspectives on what you are doing. There’s too much pressure these days from fools who demand a 7 day a week, 14 hour day working culture. They are fools because when all is said and done they have money, yes, but they have lost pretty much all of what makes their life worth living in the first place.
This may seem like a cliche, but richness is about contentment. You only have a limited time on the planet, so use it wisely.
Phillip, thank you for this article, very deep, honest and sensitive. I´m a freelance worker too, I am 32 years old and I´m starting to feel that the job is more “stable”, althou I know it will never be. I have my wife, two sons, they are the reason why I keep doing what i love, i want them to see that their father is happy, that is following his passion, i want them to be proud of me, the are my engine. So my message is… YOU CAN HAVE BOTH: LIFE & JOB.
But in the other side i feel that all the things you said are happening to me. I need to organize better my time to give them more, it can’t be all work. thank you again. Always following your site, love it!
Brilliant that you wrote this. I feel like you’ve done a service to my generation. Maybe if you had run into an article similar to this one when you were my age you would have done things differently, so thank you for catching me early in my life. Really eye opening. I’ve already become quite the shut in and I’m only turning 19 this weekend.
Cheers for the wise words and much needed guidance.
All the best!
I applaud the fact that you were secure enough in your own mind to release this information to your fans/followers. Most on your professional level would choose not to show any type of personal vulnerability. I however believe you show tremendous courage to bring up a topic that ALL OF US struggle with. I have had a regular job for almost 20 years. My personal demon was doing everything I wanted outside of work, as I would walk down to the man cave after getting off of my 9 to 5 job then start my side / dream job. I would work and sometimes play until 12 or 1 am and then go to bed and sleep late, only to miss my wife getting up in the morning. There were days I didn’t see her or my kid and they lived in the SAME house. What I am saying Phillip is that it happens to all of us and you don’t need a globe trotting job for it to happen to you. Makes for a better excuse than I had, thats for sure. I spent the last 2 years trying to fix what I had screwed up over the previous 14. You must achieve this balance that you seek, or you will never feel complete. Do you know anyone who was lying on their death bed saying “Dang, I wish I would have worked some more.” Of course not. We are on this earth for a very short period of time. What we leave behind is gone in a few years, or if your famous maybe a few generations. Example, Name the 6th president of the United States (without looking it up!!). My point exactly. You leave your family/friends and specifically your children behind, who will carry on your memory. Outside of that, no one will ever know or think about how you spent countless nights in roach infested motels creating fabulous documentaries. Sure they might see the docs 100 years from now, but the fact of what you sacrificed through your efforts at 2am will be lost to time.
A famous American football coach named Bill Walsh once told another coach the following referring to achieving balance in what they do. One day you will loose the memories of walking out onto the field where 80,000 fans are screaming and millions are watching on TV. However, you will NEVER forget all of the times your son ask you to come throw the ball with him and you were too busy. A very powerful statement.
Wish the best Mr. Bloom and may you achieve this balance in 2013!!
I’ve been coming to your site pretty much when you were getting started and learned a lot. I have also seen you go through your changes and I went through some similar physical enlargening! ha ha Anyway, I took charge over a year ago and got myself back towards health and it has made everything so much better. Well hopefully you’ll meet yourself a nice lass and get on the bandwagon… I know my life would be a lot less without her in it.
good article. I had a similar thought about the whole content for ad revenue model recently after watching ‘all watched over by machines of loving grace’. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnaHXkWQRDY
Hey Philip. First of all- I commend you for thinking about this. Ultimately, when you’re doing something meaningful with your work, there is no real separation between work and life. What I mean is- I am a filmmaker and a husband and a father. Is changing diapers life or work? Sure feels like work sometimes. Is writing a script that explores some of my personal thoughts life or work? Sure feels like life.
Rabbi Noach Weinberg, may he rest in peace, said many important things on this subject. One of which is that we often make the mistake of thinking that pain and pleasure are direct opposites. He says that, rather, the opposite of pain is comfort. Comfort is a type of pleasure, but there are other types of pleasure too- and some of them are much more fulfilling and actually *require* pain. For example, that feeling you get when you’ve really made an edit come together. It’s a real type of pleasure, very different from how you feel after eating a good steak, and required a lot of stress to get there. So part of the trick of balancing out “work and life” (I would instead call it stress and comfort) is learning how to derive pleasure from the stressful things we should be doing, and acquiring tools to tell when it’s not what we should be doing. And that requires exploring the different types of pleasure, the value of meaning/purpose, etc.
This is a big subject, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. When you started as a cameraman- you had some mentors to help you along the way. It’s possible that you could have learned lighting, composition, editing, etc. without looking at the work of masters or reading books, but it’s extremely unlikely. You can get so much further so much faster by picking the brains of those who have already spent a lifetime absorbing and refining that knowledge so that they can give it over to you in 1 hour what would have taken 10 years otherwise. From what I understand, this is part of the reason why you share your knowledge/experience in the blog here.
Why do you think questions about life choices are any different? If this is really important to you, allow me to suggest that you be extremely vigilant and picky about finding a mentor who is wise, lives by their own words, and has the dedication to teach and listen to you personally. Once you find them, don’t let go. When it comes to questions like this, it’s as precious as a 1-on-1 apprenticeship under Spielberg would be for film.
Thank you for your inspirational and emotional experience. I love film making as it flows through my veins and it is all I ever think about. I have just finished University (English and Drama 2:1) and there I discovered I had this passion. I shot a Lynchian style short film for my final year drama project and got the highest mark in years (albeit to the detriment to my dissertation slightly). I am currently living in Cardiff and working a part-time job to pay the bills and I must say every single word you have said resonates from experience and emotion. I sincerely thank you for sharing this and I hope one day to be as successful and as busy as you. Apart from doing video’s and spending my hard earned money on gear – I do not really know where to start, but I am guessing that is half of the fun. Thanks!
Thank you for this. Very thoughtful and I appreciate you sharing it. Though videography is only a serious hobby for me, your words apply to any profession or pursuit. I am about 4 years ahead of you on taking steps to change things toward a better personal work/life balance. And, let me encourage you (and you will question it at points) that it is worth it! You don’t have to give up on your standards or ambition for excellence in your work. Rather, you are discovering a more encompassing meaning of success for you. People often say that they would pay money to spend more time witih family and friends. Most people don’t realize that you actually CAN. Taking fewer paying jobs is like paying for those things in life that are truly valuable, but have no stated price. Cutting your salary in half to spend 8 weeks per year more with friends and family? Best money you could ever spend, in my opinion. I’m not judging those who do “succeed” in the common sense of the word. I truly hope that they find happiness in their life. I genuinely wish you all the happiness in your life and encourage you to not let the pattern of the first half of 2013 creep into the second half.
I think the true tell of this is the pictures of you before and after. I have had some health issue and I could tell you that is a major wake up call. Follow your dreams and the money will come. Thanks for this article… We all need the reminder sometimes.
Thanks Philip! Your Sky News career is exactly what im going through right now for an abc affiliate in Seattle WA. I want to jump into freelance but am nervous about making the first step. My biggest fear is becoming jaded and letting the hectic side of news get the best of me.
For me the work / life balance has been a precarious mix of survival instinct and denial. Survival instinct because I will pursue a work opportunity to it’s utmost end and denial because I have consistently failed to as a brother and husband.
My sister has been through a terrible separation, she has armoured through a cheating partner, set up her business, renovated her house and managed to look after two lovely well balanced girls. We are only separated my a 40 minute plane ride, but I haven’t ‘had time’ over the last twelve years to see my family in the UK other then at Christmas. Christmas is an trying time and by the time we are all settled it’s time to fly back to Amsterdam for more work.
I love my work, I’m running a business, editing and directing. My career is healthy, my body is not. I would much rather have ‘a dear son, brother, uncle and friend’ on my gravestone than ‘he made the right career choices’.
Your article touched a raw nerve. Last week I was at a friend’s funeral. Her life was also cut short by cancer. Life is too short. I won’t offer you any advice because I don’t know you personally. I wish I did, I wish we all had more time.
Very well written phillip. wish you good luck to achieve that work life balance. I am from India and we barely think about that balance because life is tough here. We have to struggle a lot to earn money. We work harder but get paid less than developed countries. Still we keep dreaming and planning for successful and happy life. Film making is an expensive business. I work in a 10-12 hrs day job to earn money and in rest of the time I spent that money to fulfill my dream to become a successful film maker. Film making is an expensive business, gears are expensive, projects demands money…a lot of money. I don’t have that much of money so I have to find an alternative. with that hope I visited your ebay store but after seeing bidding prices, again got disappointed. Anybody who has money in countries like US, UK or Europe can afford your gears easily, whether he has talent or not. You are well established in the business and earn good money. If you really want to achieve balance in work and life, you should also help others to make a better life. You could help those aspiring talents who can’t afford to buy these not in use gears through some contest or on need basis. I hope you’ll get what I wanted to convey.
Interesting post. I can understand, but I certainly can’t relate.
In fact, I’m in a position as a freelancer where the work I get DOESN’T pay the bills! I’d love to know how people can be this busy with their freelance film/video work?
I would be very interested in a post about how people get more work, more clients, etc.
You can’t relate? Does the constant attempt to make ends meet not ruin your work/ life balance? So many ways you should be able to relate. Either now or in the past. Hopefully not in the future!
You need to read my 10 steps to success post. On front page of site
Read this last night before bed. Thank you. Very honest and telling.
You even inspired me to have some morning rumpy pumpy with my girlfriend before checking email today!
Hi Philip! Thank you so very much for your honest and heartfelt post. I have followed a similar trajectory in some ways, going from full time steady work to freelance six years ago (not necessarily by choice, but that’s a different story!) I could completely and totally relate to the fear of the work slowing down – I have difficulty ever relaxing now because I’m always feeling like I could be doing more to get more work. There is no easy solution to this. I used to think that working to elevate myself to a level of success and notoriety (such as you have worked to achieve) would be a solution – yet your post reminds me that this is not necessarily true, due to lots of other factors that put added pressure on you.
Today is Memorial Day here in the U.S. – and I’m going to spend it with my wife, my son and daughter and her family, and anyone else who happens to show up – cooking burgers and dogs, laughing and hugging, sharing and enjoying each other’s company. I could be working. I could be editing. I’ve lately discovered another creative passion that I could be toying with. No. I’m going to spend it enjoying an incredibly beautiful Spring day here with family. Every day is a choice, and today this is mine. 🙂
Thanks again for your wonderful post!
Thanks Bill. You are a top man!
Ohh Phillip ! This has been the major issue in my life since I became a freelancer 2 years ago ! It is so hard to find space for family and friend while at the same time keep up with this fast paced industry. Thanks for the post. I see my self in those words. Regards.
Sorry about your loss, which seems to have been a trigger for your life crisis. For all it is worth I have been having mid-life crises since my mid twenties, in comparison you are doing well. When it comes to all that travelling I remember you saying in a Youtube interview that the main reason you went solo was because of the excessive demands associated with the life of a professional cameraman abroad. It seems to have happened again, and probably because travel time is also an important part of your life and not someting apart. Think of the alternative to this lifestyle. Nine to five stuck in the same old building day in year out like me. A short holiday in Hawaii is just about as exotic as a trip to mars for the masses. If you do not want to be a rolling stone, be a rolling pebble. I hope that you have entered a new stage in life by now. You enrich the life of so many people with your inimicable style and humour. You have essential qualities like the right accent, humour, French ancestry (like myself) and my wife even says you are good looking (unconfirmed report!). You are a natural born presenter and your personality is your most important capital. If you were to take a year off, only you could pick up from where Philip Bloom left things. You are a trade mark. You cheer us up with your presence and style so cheer up too mate. We are grateful that you exist. Everything will turn out for the best.
Just wonderful im a 17 year old filmaker and this just is amazing i am learing so much from you thanks for sharing your experiences with us it really helps ALOT! It is just amazing you have such a big heart.
You follower from spain 🙂
thanks very much!
This is very interesting… I actually decided to start working for myself just to be able to work less than I did with my employer.
I met you a couple of years ago in Belfast at the Queen’s Film Theatre. At the moment I am in the middle of a more than two hour Skype with my youngest son, who is studying at Queens University. He has encouraged me to download a game which has taken nearly those two hours to do. The reason I’m here is that for the past three weeks we have been thrown into the deep end of being back at college teaching media production and I finally hit a brick wall, metaphorically, when my blood pressure became too high after what should have been a great class. Getting the work-life balance is so important no matter what the field you are in. I have now come to a point where I have to make drastic changes as I cannot see myself continuing on at my current pace.
Thanks for sharing your own views.
Was interested to see if you have found a work life balance now. I am 23 and just starting out in my carer and this post was a great insight to make shore to get the balance right. So many things on that check list are already happening to me. So thank you for bringing it to my attention. Truly sorry to hear about your best friend. I hope 2013 has been a step in the right direction for you and 2014 to be a life changing one.
All the best
Thank you very much for this Philip. Even though this was posted a couple of years ago, it really touched me. Some times when you work as a Freelancer you get consumed by the time and you don´t realise what is really important until something happens. I think Marko gave you one last gift by letting you get the time to re organise your priorities, and not only to you but to all the people who follow you and have read this article and feel identified with it.
Im happy I have read this today! Thanks!