The natural progression of a career as a colorist is to always reach for the next big job. To try and catch the carrot dangling in front of you. Higher profile work that challenges you both professional and artistically. The idea being that the work snowballs and leads to more work on that particular level, which then creates a new norm for you.
But then what?
After the dust settles and your new norm becomes what you’re expecting to work on all the time, then what’s next? There’s always another level to strive for. New brands, new creative, new technological advances. So now, how do you get to that next, next level?
I firmly believe that it’s important to stick with what works, but to be able to adapt at the same time. Be confident with your skill set, but don’t be cocky. Know that this is an ever changing field both technologically and aesthetically that constantly requires constant adaptation. Don’t become complacent with old techniques and habits and be aware of your surroundings. Be prepared to think outside the box and step our of your comfort zone, because the second you let your guard down, you’re already behind the curve.
That’s what makes this career daunting and exciting all at the same time. You can never go on cruise control.
If you’re conscious of all of that, the next level jobs normally end up finding their way into your color suite. That’s not to say there isn’t a certain element of luck involved. There definitely is. I consider myself very lucky that I was able to work as an assistant colorist and learn a lot of the craft through the eyes of a well established colorist. Not many people get that chance. But when presented the opportunity, I took advantage of it. Luck only gets you so far. The key is to not let the opportunity be a wasted one.
All this being said, there are still moments where I wonder if we can ever feel completely fulfilled. Will there always be a next level to strive for? Do we ever really “make it” with this mindset? Probably not. But I feel like it’s a necessary mindset in order to succeed and push yourself. But can we ever really let our guard down? Will there always be another job that you want to land? Another dangling carrot?
I consider myself very motivated and self driven. I put in a lot of hours and time away from the color suite in order to better hone my skill set. I started working in a color suite in my early 20s and am now in my mid 30s and still operate the same way. There have been peaks and valleys along the way, but overall I have stayed pretty consistent with my approach towards career advancement.
There are probably only a handful of colorists in the world who have reached the mountaintop of the highest tiered work. Hollywood blockbusters, Super Bowl commercials, hit episodic television, etc. So I suppose that is my ultimate “next level”. But I have to imagine even those colorists are always striving to do bigger and better. That’s what makes them the best at what they do.
So until I grade my first Super Bowl spot or nationally released Hollywood hit, I’ll continue to chase after that carrot. Taking it one step at a time while always striving to reach that next level. It’s not easy and sometimes I wonder if I’m going about all of this the right way. But for the most part, it’s worked pretty well for me so far.
Great blog, very interesting with the way you view your work. You’re someone who has “made it” but is still trying to get to that next level(?), which is great. Without wanting to be better at something and get to a better place, there’s no point doing that thing anymore.
Your post’s are great, always look forward to them.
Thanks for reading!
Im an editor in NYC. I hear you. I feel the same way. You’re reference to super bowl spots is funny. Because there are people at a certain level, all they do is super bowl spots. But like, who cares. It doesn’t make them better. They just started out at company 3 and moved up. I’ve done super bowl spots. Dude. After a few months, meaningless.
Basically my mindset is to constantly strive to do better work. It keeps me motivated and pushes me to do the best I can on every job. Along the way, I end up learning new tricks and techniques that end up making me better down the road. I reference Super Bowl spots since they’re basically the pinnacle of commercials. At the end of the day, after the job is done, you have to move on to the next one. Hence the topic of the posting – “I made my Super Bowl spot, now what?”. Always striving to do more at a high level. Sure, luck is involved to some extent (working at a high end post house opens a lot of doors) but after awhile, you have to make your own luck.
Absolutely. Maybe one day we’ll work together and I’ll be like “Hey, I’m that Sam dude!”
You never know. It’s a small world in this business!