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Rewards Greater Than Money

Posted by Lane on August 2, 2011 at 3:54 PM Comments comments (1)

by Elspeth Grafton


We do things we need to for money.

We do things we want to for joy.

We do things challenging for those we love.

With luck, patience, and gratitude, rewards are greater than money



THAT encapsulates my time shooting in Regina.


When we last left our heroine, she was realistically optimistic about job prospects in and out of film. As is the way in this whacky industry, fortunes can turn as a result of one phone call.


Boy did my fortunes turn in ways I could never have anticipated.


Just days after ‘Patience and Gratitude’, my last blog, was posted, my phone rang. My name had been passed along to an Independent Feature being filmed in Regina. They needed someone quickly, the pay was crap but the crew was fabulous. Was I available?




See? Patience can be a virtue – having faith and asking the universe for what you want and getting it CAN happen! I might not have won the lottery or cured the ills of the world, but I asked and I received…


I literally had a day to sort out my life in Vancouver and get on a plane, my head spinning from the speed that things happened. Reading back on my personal journal I wrote while waiting for the first plane to board, I was so hesitant – the last 6 months leaving such a bad taste in my mouth – both for my own ability to do a job I love (silly, I know), and my ability to interact socially. I’d felt so invisible in Vancouver! I’d allowed that to happen, for numerous reasons.


Within an hour of touching down and heading into the Regina Production Office I met our fabulous director, and realized right quick that being invisible here was not going to be an option. Being able to shed that which I’d imposed on myself was liberating to say the least. I was an unknown entity in an unknown city, but far from invisible. I could be completely myself, warts and all, and not worry about what people thought. I had only committed to a 15 day shoot. They could take me or leave me. They probably got more of the real me than I’d allow to be shown on a regular show, just because I was so out of my element – working with people I didn’t know, in cities I didn’t know (is Moose Jaw considered a ‘city’ or a ‘town’?)


Getting hired on a show without a face to face interview with either the PM or Director is rare. It just adds to the ‘X-Factor’ of an out of town gig. It could have been a disaster. The director and I could have NOT gotten along. The cast could have been atrocious. It is a dark, dark script. It could have been an absolute nightmare. Instead, it turned out to be one of the best filming experiences of my life.


I asked and I received far more than ever expected.


I received so many personal and professional affirmations in the 28 days I was away from Vancouver – too many to put into this blog – but they’re being written about and explored. I don’t think that the people involved know what gifts they bestowed. I don’t know if I could even verbalize it accurately. If there was a reward for enduring the heinous six months previous, then I cashed it in – big time with this experience. I toss thanks up to the Universe for putting the opportunity in my way. I also give myself thanks for taking the risk, leaping into this experience without looking too hard at it, and trusting that the landing would be soft.


I think I broke even financially after the 4 weeks away. I don’t care. What I got out of it is far more important to me than a plumped up bank account. I got relationships – I got memories – I got to do a job I love, and do it well under adverse conditions. I got appreciation. I got a bit of respect too. I got to be me when I hadn’t felt like myself for a long, long time.


Regina will always hold a special place in my heart, for the riches it provided me – riches of landscape, riches of heart and riches of people. The city changed me. This filming experience changed me. The people I met changed me. I’m only better for it and for having them in my life.


We’ve now all scattered to different corners of the earth (literally), back to our regular lives. I’m resolved never to live an invisible life again, and to hold dear and nurture the friendships made.

Gratitude and Patience

Posted by Lane on June 20, 2011 at 2:02 PM Comments comments (0)

by Elspeth Grafton


I was having a bad day - a really, REALLY bad day when I made that last blog entry. I’m human. It happens to all of us. What’s different today? Have I won the lottery? Found a job, found the man of my dreams, bought a new car, righted the wrongs of the world? No. But today I feel better – good in fact. I might feel differently tomorrow, but I’m holding onto this feeling today.



I know in my heart of hearts that things will work out. How do I know this? Because everyday (despite my crumbling last week) I do something to move forward. The move might be strides or it might be inches, but I move forward nonetheless. I would hope this strategy would work for anyone, regardless of what stressors they have to deal with.


You see, I may not be working, but my day isn’t consumed with sleep-ins, daytime television or relaxing by the pool with a book. Job banks get searched, websites for companies I actually wouldn’t mind working for have their recruitment pages perused and email alerts for job postings get looked into. Some days this is outrageously successful (strides). Some mornings it’s depressingly not (inches). But I’ve made an effort. I’m turning things around.


There was a point a few months ago where I would sit down at my favorite coffee shop to write but could only stare at the page, feeling tremendous guilt that I wasn’t job searching at that precise moment. It crippled my creative life. You can’t job search 8 hours a day. Not only would you burn out pretty damn quickly in my opinion, but it could be demoralizing if nothing came of the job search immediately. At least that’s what my demons would say to me in my head. You can make sure you do something every day. It doesn’t even have to be sending out resumes. It can be connecting with one person in your work network. (You know what? You don’t even have to talk about work!) It keeps you connected. Send out one email, any small thing, but it should move you forward.


I’ve had days over the last 6 months of unemployment where I have spent so much time thinking outside the box – figuring out different tacks to take, options and avenues that I just didn’t have it in me to turn on my computer. I tried not to let that stress me out further. I just gave myself credit for what I did do.


When things get really bad, I write a gratitude list. I do this every New Year regardless, but right now, it reminds me that despite the woes, my life is good, and full, and I have remarkable people that I can and do turn to. Not only does it make a good reminder, but it also puts me on the page, one of the places outside a film set where I’m happiest. And finding my happy place is extremely important right now. Honestly, I’m in my 6th month of unemployment. It’s not fun. It’s not like one big, long vacation. It’s stressful. I have to find ways to be kinder to myself – especially now. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed with discouragement and fear of the unknown. And don’t get me wrong, I get discouraged and I have huge fear. My unknown is very, very unknown. I was there last week. I’m not there today.


I try to take time each day to get out of the house, recharge, and remind myself that although I don’t have my one passion for script supervision in my life right now, I do have others. One passion I have that I make sure I utilize daily is writing. I write fiction and I recently completed the outline for my second script (I sound really creative here, but honestly, both scripts are just outlined. Not completed. Not sold.) Having been out of work for so long from a job that usually presents so many challenges on an hourly basis, I have to continue to keep challenging myself creatively. I have to keep myself engaged – mind, body and soul. Writing, yoga, job search. Writing, yoga, job search. Wash, rinse, repeat. Daily. Find what works for you. There’s so much stress involved with the job hunt it’s very important to keep your other passions engaged in your life.


Sure, after 6 months without work, I’m broke. But I would rather gnaw off my arm than give up yoga. I would rather eat Ichiban noodles for the remainder than give up my yoga membership. That does more for my mental state of mind than anything else. I choose to keep in my life that which gives me strength. My coffee place is the same. Sometimes I come here and don’t order, but most of the time I utilize my loyalty points accrued when working. When those run out (and they will), I won’t begrudge myself the $3 for the Americano. I will only have one, however. The cable, however, will be turned off at the end of the month if work hasn’t come my way. It is now starting to become a luxury. My choice. I’m prioritizing my spending, and yoga trumps TV any day of the week.


A couple of weeks ago, I found myself stuck in a negative cycle. (Another one, you’re saying to yourself – YES. They come and go – sometimes I have more trouble working through them than others.) As someone who believes in the power of positive thinking this is a dangerous spiral to get caught in. It happens to the best of us though, and it took a friend calling me on it for me to snap clear. I realized I’d been saying and thinking, ‘I can’t find work’ instead of ‘I haven’t found the right job fit yet’. See the difference? Don’t think it matters? It does. Over and over I’ve witnessed the universe providing what is asked for (Side note: BE SPECIFIC! And asking for $1,286 to appear in your bank account does NOT count!) If you keep putting it out there that you can’t do something you never will. I have to say that within 10 minutes of me apologizing to the universe and switching my way of thinking back into the positive, my email chirped at me from an industry friend with an interesting job lead. Did I want the job, HELLYEAH. Did I get the job? No. But I asked the universe and was rewarded with hope I didn’t have 15 minutes before. Yes, I consider the job prospect as a reward. I do.


I’m still working on the ‘who am I without the job I love’. I have a feeling this is a struggle a lot of women face – only replace ‘job I love’ with ‘man I love’ or ‘children I want’ etc. I’d like to say everyday I figure out something new, but that’s not the case. Everyday I’m reminded of something about myself, and I give myself credit for it. Whether it is how well I weathered a disappointment, or finding a new avenue to pursue, I congratulate myself, and tuck it away to pull out when I have bad days or weeks like the last one.



Writing these blogs has allowed me to gratefully receive something I hadn’t known I needed – and that is validation and witness. I needed to voice the shit (even sugar-coated) and feel as though I'd been heard. I needed even just one person to witness the struggle I was having as to who I now was without a job that I felt had defined me. And most of all, I needed to read it all myself, through my own written voice, and give myself credit for the strength this whole process has required.


I’m going through it, I’m getting past it, I’ll survive it, and I’ll be better for it.

When Nothing Is Working--Not Even You

Posted by Lane on June 13, 2011 at 3:21 PM Comments comments (6)

by Elspeth Grafton


This blog was supposed to be about gratitude and patience. Sorry to disappoint, but it’s not. I am having a bad day – well, to be honest, it’s been a really shitty week – and I just can’t fake it. I read through the blog about gratitude and patience I wrote a couple of days ago before sending it intoto the site, and it all rang false – because this week it was. It is. I tried to fix it, and nothing worked. I tried rewriting it, and I felt everything I was saying was a lie.


If I had sent it out, it would have been a lie, because today that’s not my reality.


Today I feel the pressure. Today, I feel the pressure so acutely, it’s hard to breathe. Today, you’re getting the raw goods, because that’s exactly how I’m feeling. Raw to the bone. There is an element of embarrassment to this blog, because I’m usually the strong, ever-positive force. Today I am neither – it’s something I’m hoping to regain by laying it bare. I’m human and I’m having a really human moment; well, more than ‘moment’ actually. The ‘have a good cry for an hour, then get on with it’ voice has been on repeat. The time-limit breakdown game I’ve been playing with myself for months hasn’t worked. My big-girl pants are nowhere to be found.


Someone dear to me whose opinion I value very highly, told me that in my last blog for WWK (The Great Job Search 2011) he felt I had sugar coated how bad things have gotten. :: nods :: Yep, I think I did. Things have been heinously bad, and it’s been the hardest, most stressful time I have gone through since the loss of a family member a few years ago. But again, it’s my nature to try to put positive spins on everything. So when I’m unable to get to the place of positivity (yes, that word again), I spiral down fast. And I’m spiraling. Hopefully getting it down on paper and out of my head will help stop that cycle.


I’ve heard over and over during the last few months, ‘you’re doing everything you can’, ‘there isn’t much more you could do’. With a go-getter personality like I’ve got, what do you do when your best efforts aren’t enough? What do you do when ALL options thus far have been shut down? What do you do when the universe ends up dumping more crap onto your shoulders? It’s heavy. It’s paralyzing.


Today I feel paralyzed into inaction. Hmmmm… That’s not quite accurate. More like I’m running at an all out sprint, but not gaining any ground. I’m tired. My spirit is getting tired. And with this cycle I’m in, it’s hard to be pro-active when you’re active enough just trying to keep your nose above water-level.


I don’t want a pity-party. Believe me, I know this weighted feeling will pass eventually. What I’m desperate for today is a little scrap of wood to cling onto until I can gather the strength to swim to the life raft. I’m willing to put in the effort; I just need a little breather. Unfortunately, the universe has had different ideas this week.


A dear friend (who happened to be on the receiving end of my bubble bursting) gave me three tasks to accomplish today. I need to clean out the car that has died twice this week (and had one unsuccessful albeit expensive trip to the mechanic), I need to go to yoga, and I need to blog about this shitty side of things. These are very, very basic things, but in my current frame of mind, I haven’t even been able to see above the next crest to get a basic list created in my head. It all has seemed too much.


I will complete these three tasks today. I know I will feel better at the end of it, even if it’s just for the inches forward I’ve moved today. See? Even the most positive person can have a crappy day and a crappy week. I’m hoping that tomorrow I will wake up and feel like I can conquer the world again. Sorry. Let me rephrase. Tomorrow I WILL feel like conquering the world. Tomorrow will be better. It usually is.


Next Blog: Hopefully it will be Gratitude and Patience (please, please universe!!)

The Great Job Search

Posted by Lane on June 3, 2011 at 12:37 PM Comments comments (0)

by Elspeth Grafton

At the beginning of 2011, I was unconcerned about work. It’s a season that’s normally slow. When movies started pulling out of Vancouver in late February/early March, my spidie-senses started going off. Not only was I not getting hired for independent feature films, but also low budget movies of the week. There was stiff competition for the features, and although I might be good at my job, I can’t compete with someone with 15 years more experience! I can imagine that I didn’t get any calls for the movies of the week because, with my experience, I was seen as ‘too expensive’ or ‘over qualified’. Nothing I can do about other people’s impressions, but I do wish they’d let me decide what wage I’m willing to work at instead of assuming I’ll cost too much.


My first reaction to this lack of interest was to crunch numbers. Sure, we earn a good living when we’re working in film, but it’s by no means steady employment. Even if you’re working on a series for 9-10 months out of the year, there is always the threat of cancellation or that the show won’t be renewed. Uncertainty is the name of the game. You can either handle it or you don’t last in the industry. Your employment status can change with a phone call at 9pm or a text message at 6am. Not everyone is cut out for that. It requires a certain amount of faith… okay, a LOT of faith. My faith was waning and reality was setting in.


So I applied for EI (Employment Insurance) and the weeks passed. I applied for any show I could, both big budget and low budget. It didn’t matter. I wanted to work.


When job prospects really started looking bleak in April, I started begrudgingly rethinking my battle plan. Perhaps this was the year when being an uber-budgeter and keeping the faith that ‘something would come along’ was not going to be enough. And what the hell was I going to do if that was the case?


Thus began the Great Job Search 2011.


I looked at lateral moves within the industry. Not too many prospects for a script supervisor. But I tried. I really did. And people I reached out to were very helpful – truly. Generous, even. I emailed everyone I could think of. But no dice, not even a nibble for work. I had friends forward their friends email addresses. I was a networking fool. I even cold-called :: shudder ::.


Zero. Zip.


I took all the advice I was given to heart. I followed up all threads and suggestions for work. I investigated all avenues to the best of my ability. Through all of this I was still feeling relatively positive – I was doing something, and being pro-active in my future. I held onto the smallest things, like the fact these contacts liked me enough to answer my questions - to talk with me – share knowledge.


When production lists dwindled from what traditionally at this time of year should be 7-8 pages of shows down to 2, I knew the booming summer I was desperately hoping for was not going to come to pass. Looking for work and trying to expand within the industry only really works when there IS an industry to work in.


So again, I regrouped. I sought the advice of my trusted friends. Bless their hearts; they listened. They let me pick their brains. They bought me coffee. There were points where my friends and family really kept me afloat. I thought, and I thought. I looked at my friends who had jobs I thought were interesting – or aspects of their job that I thought could fit with my skills and personality. I quizzed and questioned. I examined what I really did want in a job, ignoring the voice in my head continuously yelling, “You want to be a script supervisor!”. It was hard to ignore.

Elspeth being a Script Supervisor

I investigated short-term school programs. I even met with a ‘career strategist’, hoping to have someone with some expertise help me translate my film resume into real-world terms; help me take my unique skill set and experience and transition it into a real-world job. I love my friends and family but I needed some unbiased encouragement and help!


And what question did the ‘career strategist’ open our first meeting with? “So, what’s your dream job?” I all but growled at her, and tried to cut her some slack. I’m not an easy client. I’m not cookie-cutter. I’m not a recovering drug addict, an immigrant, I don’t live on the Lower East Side, I’m not francophone, English is my first language, I’m not First Nations… I could go on. If I were any of the aforementioned things, there would be plenty of services available to me – and she would have directed me accordingly. I’m a 40 year-old Caucasian woman. I’m smart. Granted, I’m under-educated, but that you can work around. She didn’t quite know what to do when I told her I’d been working in my dream job for a decade – successfully.


I ended up leaving her office with only one thing listed on my action plan – taking a three-week career prep course. It was infuriating. I didn’t need to learn how to self-evaluate. I didn’t need to learn how to network, and I certainly didn’t need to learn how to use the internet. I wanted to know about job trends in the province! But in the end I went to the information session – strictly because I said I would. And it was two hours of my life I couldn’t get back.


Again, and again, I leaned on my fantastic friends, all the while sending film resumes and networking amongst my work contacts. I found a school program that was interesting to me (encouraging!). Oh. There’s a year and a half wait list… at every college south of Quesnel offering it (discouraging). I found a similar program at a University on the Island – with no wait list (encouraging!!). It was affordable and only 8 months long (*so* encouraged at this point). Oh. I need a pre-requisite course first (deflate). Oh. It started last week… (deflated).


Each time I battled back to find another option. With each ‘outside the box’ option I found or gave myself; concessions made in my mind in order to work in a non-film job, all the time ignoring the voice in my head screaming about my ‘real job’, I got more and more discouraged. It was harder and harder to stay positive – and it was an uncomfortable feeling for someone like me – I would imagine it would be for anyone, actually.


I plastered a smile on my face when I felt like sobbing. I got out of the house, even if it was just to my local coffee shop, so I wouldn’t crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head. I did yoga. I got a real world resume together on my own, told the ‘career strategist’ to stuff it (okay, that part was only in my head, but I really REALLY wanted to), and I tried to be easier on myself without letting myself completely off the hook. And I continuously sent out resumes. Anywhere.


I find myself now, applying for jobs that I know will drive me mad in the long-term (insert ‘I want to be a script supervisor’ voice here) hoping it will soothe my short term anxiety. I’m trying to keep it all as positive as possible. I really am. I’m at a loss as to what else to do or try, so positivity can’t hurt! Yes. In my world, positivity is a word.


Most days, I’m successful. I do allow myself wallow pity parties when it seems far too much uncertainty to bear, but usually these parties have a time limit. Voice starts saying, “You have 2 hours to have a good cry, then you need to put on your big-girl pants and get back to it.” For me, that works.


I’d be curious to know how others are making it through – I’m certainly not the only one who is affected so. I make sure I do something on the looking-for-work front every day. I allow myself flexibility and adjustments. This might not work for me next week, but it does right now – and now is really all I have control over.


Right now, I’m feeling good. But I’m writing, so this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.


Is it strange that I’m glad the voice in my head hasn’t abandoned me yet? I will be a script superior again. Film hasn’t completely forsaken me yet – just turned it’s back for a while.


Coming up: Blog III – Finding Gratitude and Peace (when it’s all going to shit)

Passion vs. Reality

Posted by Lane on May 27, 2011 at 10:56 AM Comments comments (0)

by Elspeth Grafton


Working in the film industry sounds glamorous. I’m sorry to break it to you but it isn’t. Not really. Sure there are stars, sure there are some glorious costumes and sets. But it is work – quite often out in the elements for a minimum of twelve hours a day – often longer. Back in the day I worked a 26-hour day; but I digress.


If ever there was an industry that embraced me, a job tailor made for me – it is being a Script Supervisor in the film industry. Continuity utilizes all my organizational skills, my anal-retentiveness, my ability to think outside the box, work effectively with others (even when I’m telling them things they don’t want to hear), and challenges my creativity in a way nothing else has. There have been days, sitting on set, where I have been beaming ear to ear thinking to myself, ‘They are paying me to be here? Seriously?!’


Elspeth doing the Scripty Thing.


I will admit freely that I am one of the lucky women out there who found a career that is also my passion, and I’ve been successful at it for the last decade. I count my blessings every time I walk onto a film set, script binder slung over my shoulder and stopwatch around my neck that I feel a sense of belonging. I am truly doing what I’m meant to be. As I said – blessings!


It was a big shock earlier this year when I realized that the trials and tribulations of the economy were finally affecting the film industry in Vancouver and that my dream job, my passion, couldn’t support me. It wasn’t because I suck at my job and no one would hire me – just the opposite. Shows that were booked to film in Vancouver (and that I was booked to do) were all of a sudden shooting only in Louisiana, or New Mexico, but not releasing studio space so other productions could come into our fair city to film. Our Canadian dollar shot above par with the US dollar. We had a big kafuffle with our federal government resulting in a federal election that, in conjunction with value of our dollar, put American producers on alert. (Just so you know, I’m no international economist, these are just my thoughts based on the trends I’ve seen over the 10 years.)


On set at one of her IMDB listed films. 

Fans of the franchise will know exactly where she is.


Unfortunately, I am someone who tends to judge my own success and worthiness in the world by my job title and show I’m working on. Hey, don’t judge – some women judge themselves based on their daughter winning a beauty contest, or son winning a football game; some by being a wife. I have no kids or husband, but I do have an IMDB page! It makes me beam with pride! It has been a long process to ‘let go’ of my passion. It’s not in my nature to lose faith - I’m normally the woman turned to, to bolster and encourage – and I’m tenacious as hell! But reality has set in. Having faith won’t pay my rent or my car insurance. Tenacity won’t buy groceries. I can only imagine this is what someone feels like when they realize they will never get that NBA contract, but have to turn their passion for basketball into a weekend hobby.


Having to let go of what I worked so hard to attain even temporarily brings tears to my eyes. I’m no quitter, but I recognize when I’m beaten. Now I have to redefine who I am – no only for the ‘real world’ job market, but in my own mind. It’s daunting and terrifying; but if the film industry has taught me anything, I’m up for the challenge. That I am holding onto.


Coming up: Part II – The Great Job Search 2011