Spending Money Before You Have It

Another question came in over Twitter, as a sort of follow-up to the sudden cancellation of Roseanne:

Are you an idiot for spending money knowing you’ll have a job for season 2?

I love this show way more than a grown adult should.
Not ME, of course. I don’t do this.

Nothing Is Certain

Even if the star of your show isn’t a total nutjob, there is no guarantee your show will actually come back for another season. And even if the show does come back, there’s no guarantee it’ll last through the season; hell, it may only air a single episode.

Shit happens, and it’s almost certainly not a PA’s fault. Maybe the ratings are bad, maybe the show runs over budget, maybe one too many horses break their legs. The point is, you can’t count on the show continuing.

And let’s not forget the fact that the show may go on without you. And again, it might not even be your fault.

Plan Ahead

So no, don’t spend money you don’t have yet. In fact, don’t spend money you do have. Save it, instead. Even setting aside calamities and sudden cancellations, you ned to be prepared for hiatus. You’re going to be out of work for a couple of months between seasons.

If you’re starting out, in your career and in life, you need to save as much money as you can. Get a roommate. Live in a more affordable part of town. Don’t go out partying every night. Find ways to entertain yourself for free.

This way, when it comes time to tighten your belt, A) you won’t have to tighten very much, and B) you’ll be used to a thinner waistband anyway.

None of this is very fun to think about. You’re young, possibly single, living in one of the most exciting cities in the world. But if you want to last in this business, you need to actually learn to be a responsible adult.

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About The Anonymous Production Assistant 612 Articles
Yeah, right, like I'm going to tell you.

3 Comments

  1. Oh yeah. It’s human nature in this free-lance world to count your money before you’ve earned it, but that way lies madness and financial stress in Hollywood. I learned early on never to assume a job was actually happening until I walked on set and filled out the start paperwork – and even then, nothing beyond that day was guaranteed. I got a call last week from a gaffer I used to work for who told me that his current show – with season two well underway and a full schedule of 22 episodes all printed up – had just decided to cut the last seven episodes, so there went seven paychecks he had every expectation would be coming… and that’s the point: you can’t assume anything in this business. On two of the location features I did back in the late 80s, I was all packed up and ready to go to the airport for eight weeks of work… then the phone rang. It was production, telling me to hold off. I’d cleared my schedule, informed all my work contacts that I’d be out of town for two months, paid the bills in advance and emptied the fridge – and now what? With the financing suddenly in doubt, the producers got nervous. In each case those problems were resolved, and I ended up flying east to do the movies, but it was touch and go for a while.

    There was a DGA strike back in the early 80s that went on much of the summer, and a lot of people who should have known better lost motor homes, boats, and other recreational vehicles because they could no longer make the payments. They learned the dangers of assumption the hard way.

    In Hollywood more than anywhere, remember your mom’s advice: don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched – and don’t spend your money before it’s in your pocket.

  2. Golden rule I live by is 6 months of living expenses saved up at all times for a rainy day, and have a second job on the side for when you are on hiatus. May be overkill for some who have tighter budgets, but 3 months of living expenses saved up will at least help you sleep at night.

    • I, too, try to follow the 6mos rule. 2nd job or even smaller gigs during hiatus is a wise idea. Keeps you busy and in the industry loop.

      Another great way to stay busy during hiatuses is find at least one new thing to study and potentially master so you can improve your skillsets going forward.

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