Jobs in the creative arts are notoriously unstable. The hours are long, and for every well-paid part in “Doctors” there are hundreds of others barely paying enough to cover travel to and from set.
So how do you cope while waiting for that breakout role?
Job hunting and auditioning can be mentally and physically draining. Think of yourself as ‘between jobs’ rather than ‘unemployed’: a small difference but one which puts a positive spin on the situation.
Volunteering is a great way to fill the hours waiting for a callback. Crisis at Christmas in particular numbers writers, actors, script editors and producers amongst its ranks of volunteers who give up their time to help the needy. Who knows what connections you’ll make while dishing out breakfast?
Don’t raid the piggy bank!
Put away a certain percentage of your earnings to make sure you’re covered next time jobs are thin on the ground. Make sure you always have enough money to cover next month’s rent and bills – that way you’ll never have to face that creeping sense of panic each time a job comes to an end.
BAFTA winner Vicky McClure famously held down a day job in a surveyors office in Nottingham while shooting the lead role in ‘This is England’. With plenty of time on your hands, being between jobs is a perfect time to learn a freelance skill that you can use to make money.
Actors can variously be found moonlighting as yoga teachers, running workshops or teaching drama in schools. Others multi-task, using time between jobs to write, direct or produce. One London-based actress has recently set up a business using techniques learnt at drama school to teach employees at corporations to improve their confidence and pitching skills.
Make your own opportunities
The creative industry is collaborative above all – and you won’t be the only person waiting for a producer to call back. Statistically there’ll be enough of you between jobs to cast, crew and produce a year’s worth of feature films – so join Meetup groups and Media Volt, and spend some time befriending like-minded creatives. The short film you make with the director you met on Twitter and the scriptwriter you tracked down on Facebook could be the one to land you a BAFTA…