This forum is really something special. It’s rekindled a sense of motivation in me that has been lacking recently. Big props to Miriam for getting this started and to Richard for keeping these conversations rolling and focused. I’m not one to post often but I wanted to get some insight on how others in this group deal with an issue that is very close to my heart.
I’ve been living and working in LA for 10 years. One of my biggest concerns has always been the issue of ‘work-life balance’. I’ve been married 10 years to a wonderfully supportive woman. Ever since our college years, she has whole-heartedly encouraged my artistic and entrepreneurial endeavors and helped me to be both a better composer, artist and father. I’m also blessed with two amazing little girls, now 7 and almost 4 years old. I’m curious about how others in this group balance life and work.
I made a conscious decision early on that I was going to work harder than anybody else. I was going to put in all the hours possible. I was going to work for free to build relationships with people that would help me get ahead in my career. For my first 2-3 years out of college, thats exactly what I did. I burned the candle at both ends. I pulled all nighters as a tech assistant to make sure my composer clients had everything they needed when they returned to the studio the next morning. I tracked down and scored as many short films as I could manage while maintaining a full time tech gig.
All of that began to change when my first daughter was born in 2009. I didn’t lose the drive or motivation per se but I found myself working less long hours to be an equal parenting partner with my wife. Even with a new baby I stayed moderately active scoring indie projects. But I realized I wasn’t reaching out to as many NEW filmmakers as I had been. I all but stopped going to the SCL screenings and AFI events etc.
I consider myself incredibly fortunate for the life i have. Am I scoring big budget (or even small budget) studio films? No. Am I envious of the careers of my mentors and friends who are doing better projects than I am currently? I’m not ashamed to say absolutely yes. Its something I wrestle with every single day. But I have an incredibly full life. My daughters and I bike to school every day. I’m able to go to the gym on a fairly consistent basis. I’m home for dinner every night between 6:00 – 7:00. I rarely enter the studio on the weekends and only semi-regularly return to the studio after the kids are in bed.
I love all the time I have with my family and I don’t know that I would trade that time for more traditional success as a film composer. But it is something I think about all the time. If i spent less time with my girls and more time in the studio or pounding the pavement, would my current level of success in this business improve at all? And even if it did, would that be a worthy tradeoff?
I don’t have any answers but I’m curious if others wrestle with this issue.