Filmmaking is for Warriors: How to afford the good life

Filmmaking is for Warriors 3_2

“Why don’t you have Internet?”

I get that question a lot. I mean, I guess it’s valid here in the US. We act as though we’d die tomorrow without wifi. Gotta stay connected.

Let’s talk about dreams, then.

I decided to go to school for film. I did that knowing I probably would never make good money on it. I knew that. It didn’t bother me. I didn’t grow up with a lot of money and I didn’t yet understand what it’s truly like to live as an artist.

When you’re an adult, it’s all well and good to say “I’m an artist.” But when you go to the store to buy groceries for the week or when you get that inevitable rent payment reminder looming from the coffee table you have a choice: work hard and still do art, or live at home/with someone else and mooch for the rest of your life.

I don’t believe the latter choice is an option.

So. What do I do to be an artist and still live?

I work. First I worked in food service. Then in a gardening place. Then in retail. Then last year I found my current job – business writing – which utilizes all of the craft I’ve built up in writing for the past 15 years. I love my job. There’s no complaints about my job. I need this job to pay the bills.

But my job is not art.

Last year I pushed myself to create a film every month. I succeeded in making 11 films, 2 of which are sadly still in post. You can read about why I didn’t succeed in 12 films here.

I didn’t have the ability to pay anybody, I don’t have my own sound equipment, I didn’t always have access to real actors and we mostly made up our own lighting. On top of that; almost every single crew member and actor was either full-time in school or full time working or a mixture of both.

But we all made the time to create art.

How did we afford this good life?

We work hard. We make time. We pay our bills. We create good, solid relationships with other human beings who often help us out along the way.

But this post started with a very specific question – why my husband and I don’t have Internet at home.

A while back this thing happened called college. A decision was made to take out loans to pay for this good schooling. Those loans were a decision, made in full awareness that they would eventually be paid off, even if it took several years. There was never, nor should there be, any expectation that these loans would be paid by someone else or just randomly disappear. You don’t pay for a car and then expect to get the money back. You don’t pay for a Starbucks coffee and expect it for free, not if the coffee makes it to your hand.
A service was rendered, and that service had a price.

In our effort to pay off these loans and the new car that my husband chose, we have dialed back our lifestyle considerably. We’re attempting to continue dialing it back in the near future as well.

Here’s what we already do to save money:

  1. We live in a studio apartment. That’s one room and a restroom.
  2. We do not have Internet or TV at home.
  3. We are part of my family’s phone plan. I use an iPhone 4 that I got for $0.99 when I upgraded my plan in 2013, and my husband downgraded to an iPhone 3 over a year ago (I have no idea how it still works, blame good engineering).
  4. We don’t buy new clothes, or really any clothes, unless something is ripped, stained or necessary for work.
  5. We shop at Aldi. Although I should interject here that I have extensive, debilitating food allergies that prevent me from ingesting gluten, dairy, corn, most soy and some preservatives. If I eat these things I get very sick and am unable to work or function. Because of this we often shop at HyVee and Natural Grocers, which is expensive. I don’t recommend shopping like this if you want to save money and have the ability to eat normal foods (not talking about eating completely unhealthily, please don’t think that I want anyone to make bad food choices).
  6. I have the bare minimum health insurance and car insurance.
  7. My husband leads the way in donating money. This seems like a contradictory statement, but I’ve discovered that the more money you share, the more you suddenly have.

By doing these things, and probably some others I am forgetting, we are able to save a huge portion of our checks every month and work toward paying off debt. Because of these things we can afford to (over) spend on activities with our friends. Because of these things we can afford the good life, which is the artist’s life.

We don’t expect things to be free. We don’t expect things to be easy.

And those two pieces of wisdom, combined with a deep faith in an unfailing God, give me an artist life, the life that I always wanted since before college.

As always, feel free to comment with feedback, questions or projects of your own!

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Adventures with Husband: Laughter Could be Driving

Laughter Could be Driving

A friend of mine lives about an hour away. Well, I’d say two of my best friends live about an hour away. But the one friend – Cody’s his name – is in the process of rehabilitating a house before his move-in date at the beginning of April.

So Husband and I went on an adventure.

We arrived a bit later than expected. Mostly because mornings are hard. And when we got to the house we discovered that the plan was to tear apart the front porch, as it has become a general hazard to life, liberty and the pursuit of foot safety.

We spent a happy couple of hours tearing things up, using appropriate hand wear and throwing a lot of stuff in the trash.

Since I have a headache list of food allergies I got to choose the lunch option – Five Guys if anyone is interested – and after eating we were pretty bushed for the rest of the day. So we loaded up the wood and trash and called it good. Husband and I started out for home.

This was a new area of town for us, so when we started back we thought we knew where we were going, but apparently we were out of the loop. Hey look, that’s the exit for our highway home!

It was not the highway home.

It was a twisty, pretty, slooow side highway through farms and gorgeous fields and not the place we needed to be. I checked my phone – hey that’s where we are on the map! And we thought, well, we’ll just take this road up here and connect to the highway.

We took that road.

It did not connect to the highway. In fact, we were forced to wave at our needed highway as we passed over it to the other side. From my momentarily unable-to-load phone we determined that this was not the way we should go, unless we were keen on getting more lost in rural Missouri.

So we turned around. Back to our old friend, the scenic route.

When we arrived back with our old friend my phone loaded and I saw what appeared to be another road further down that would take us back to our highway. We set off, blasting 80s hits with the windows down (did I mention that it’s SPECTACULAR today?). The road we needed appeared in a flash, so we took it happily, still blasting tunes (and I was dancing, not gonna lie).

Yay highway!

I said, “Oh, this is that weird on-ramp thing,” as we made the customary right turn to get back on the highway. We took it at an incredibly fast speed – the highway is 70mph – and as the road fell away there was a split second of comprehension.

This road was not a highway entrance.

This road dropped off into a chasm right in front of us.

This road was perforated with a dozen cracks, holes and blemishes.

We were about to fly off into the next world.

I screamed, “Not a highway entrance!”

Husband swerved. We careened down the center of what appeared to be a completely neglected frontage road, tire narrowly missing the edge of the precipice that separated us from the highway home.

Laughing my head off, unable to even talk, I continued to dance to the music, as Husband dodged pothole after pothole, crack after pointless crack, and we both watched the highway to home run parallel to our path, just beyond the edge of our ability to join it.

I laughed and I tried to speak. And I laughed more. He laughed, somehow perplexed and then elated that this was my response to our near death experience.

Finally a real highway entrance materialized in front of us. We rejoined the highway with smiles and me laughing again, “yay a real highway entrance!”

It was the best driving adventure with Husband so far.

(Feel free to comment with feedback, questions or adventures of your own!)