I worked in the film industry on and off for about nine years and I gotta say, it’s definitely not for everyone.
And by everyone, I’m talking about ME.
I enjoyed my time and I made a lot of good friends during those years, but I don’t see how people can work those crazy hours (a lot of times in bad weather conditions) when they start to get older.
When I was 25-years-old? Hey, no sweat!
But now…I don’t know if I’d be able to handle it…I’m not saying it’s a nightmare but I don’t think outsiders realize what it’s really like to work on movies and TV shows.
What glamorized career path is actually a total nightmare?
AskReddit users opened up about this.
“Academia in general is potentially a garbage fire career path.
Namely because it’s so competitive that a lot of people burn out and become shells of human beings just from the stress and pressure of grad school and the job market.
A lot of people put pressure on themselves to end up in a top tier university when that just isn’t in the cards for everyone. So many people end up broken.
I’d just say that for anyone considering academia after a PHD, be ready to give a lot and get very little in return.”
2. Too bad.
“Being an architect is really bad.
Most people don’t complete it and the mental health issues are quite serious. There’s a lot of criticism and stress in the beginning, lots of late nights and hard work. At the end of the work you get insulted in public.
There’s no real reason for this. You aren’t going to be saving lives or anything, there’s no need to make it so expensive either.
So three years later, you get a degree and have to do a year of intern work, then it’s time for another year of study and projects and exams. Then two years of minimum wage work.
Then you come back for more exams, essays and projects.
It’s really too hard for what it is. I get paid very badly and I don’t really use any of my training. It was pointless really but girls like it at parties when I say I’m an architect. That’s a lie I don’t go to parties I have no social life.”
3. No fun.
People talk about the fancy plane rides, expensive dinners, wild parties with your colleagues or a client. The reality of it is you’re never trully off work, always on-call like a surgeon.
Works weeks are usually 60-100 hours and can be brutal if one follows another.
It’s really more like working from 9AM-10PM in office and then get home to work another bit and have any given presentation ready stat.
I’ve gone all-nighters followed by client meetings where all I have time for is a quick shower and a 7/11 coffee.”
4. Hard to help people.
I spent a long time working towards a career in therapy, and I’ve noticed that a lot of new people/people looking to get into the field go in with the starry-eyed “I want to help people” mentality. I did, too.
You do help people, but it is f**king hard to help people. A lot of jobs are high stress/low pay type of deals, because a lot of the jobs available are through nonprofits that only have so much funding to go around.
You are vicariously exposed to other people’s trauma, and it does affect you, no matter how good you are at creating boundaries and practicing self care. It’s an admirable profession, but a grossly under appreciated one, and it most certainly isn’t for everyone who wants to “help people” for a living.”
5. Too bad.
“The nonprofit sector.
You’re mostly putting a bandaid on issues. You go into it wanting to help people, but far too many people are ungrateful, not willing to help them selves, or complain no matter how much you’re trying.
I cannot tell you how many people have made threats even when you’ve gone well above and beyond for them. So many people abuse the system for freebies. I had people come in trying to get freebies who make over 100k a year.
The pay is always s**t unless you’re at the executive level. It is ridiculous how much executives make compared to the workers doing 90% of the work. The CEO of my organization makes well into the six figures while we have to work 3 years to get a 3% raise on our low salary.
They also devalue you constantly. You have people with master’s degrees working entry level positions being bossed around by some old lady with zero education but who’s friends with the CFO or something.
You’re constantly working with a ramen noodle budget expected to come out with steak and lobster results. 9/10 volunteers are only there because they’re trying to get hours or a reference and complain a lot.
You’re constantly battling other nonprofits even if you’re just trying to share resources. You can do completely different things and are just trying to refer clients back and forth so they can acess all available resources, but they’ll guard their clients like gold.
The amount of shady practices that occur as well… Inflation of numbers, total lies, etc… it is really sad how many places do nothing or very minimal, but are galmorized as “doing good”.”
6. This would be very difficult.
I went into it with the naive belief I would be making a difference. I wanted to protect people and make my community safer. Instead, I got to see the worst humanity has to offer day in and day out. Lets see if I can list all the negatives:
Most departments are filled with arrogant assholes with inflated ego’s that love to condescend to other officers or the public when they themselves can barley read.
Many officers have severe anger issues and love to take it out on the public (never saw it happen physically but verbally or by issuing ever ticket possible).
Try to suggest changes to bring about better relations with the public? Prepare to be ostracized and bullied till you tow the line.
The overall level of incompetence is staggering, with some officers barely knowledgeable of the firearms they carry everyday.
Your view of the public and people in general becomes very dark. The amount of EDP’s (emotionally disturbed persons), druggies and alcoholics you deal with each day is ridiculous and you start to wonder how society hasn’t collapsed.
You arrest a violent offender just to see them quickly released over and over, whats worse is how many times an abuse victim files a complaint because you arrested their “love” despite almost being k**led.
Very few people are actually grateful when you cut them a break. They DO take it as a sign of weakness and try to push the envelope. This is an often overlooked reason why some officers become a**holes. You try to help people out and they spit in your face (sometimes literally), this gradually tears you down until you can barely recognize what you are becoming.
The uniform is a target. You can be the nicest most patient officer in the world but to many the uniform means you are the enemy. You will get cursed at, attacked and have your private life laid bare.
Low pay not even remotely commensurate with what you have to deal with.
There is sooo much more but I was lucky enough to get out and change careers before it all really got to me.”
7. All or nothing.
People have no idea how much time, effort and resources goes into competing at elite levels of any sport/esport. It is soul-sucking. Think a 50hour work week is hard?
Nah fam, try living and breathing what you do. That’s why I h**e that people think talent is what gets you there, but in reality those people are just extremely dedicated to their craft.”
8. I can see this.
“The video game industry.
A lot of kids and teens want in it so bad because “I grew up playing games blah blah blah they take me to another world blah blah blah.” Then you become an adult and learn that it’s all math and physics, and making a video game has NOTHING to do with what you experienced growing up. It’s all black screens of code, polygons, and being criticized for your work.
What’s worse, if you make games you probably never have the time to play them anymore. The gaming industry is notorious for implementing 60-80 hour work weeks.
EVEN WORSE depending on what company you work for, you may never have stable work. You finish a project and then the company tells you “we don’t have another project for your particular skill set.” Then you gotta look for more work.
AND IF ALL THAT WASNT BAD ENOUGH, you’ll probably never work on a game you want to work on. All those big, fancy games and indie darling on Steam are a very small fraction of what exists. Barbie’s Horse Adventure? Those people got degrees and we’re inspired by the same games as you.
Crappy Candy Crush knock-offs? Same degree and inspiration. Stupid table-top games that you only see in the family section at Walmart? Those also utilize game designers/programmers.
Don’t get into videogames because you like videogames. Get into videogames because you’re passionate about math and science.”
9. In the kitchen.
Been in the business for 12 years. In the US, 8 hour days and paid overtime. In UK, I’m working 60 hour weeks, 13 hour days, on salary with no overtime.
My personal life has taken a nosedive and so has my health. The only time I have to go to the gym (a hobby I loved!) is after midnight after working all day. I don’t get scheduled breaks, and if I get a chance to eat, I’m shoving fries into my mouth.
For those who are interested in becoming a chef, it is not for the faint-hearted. Have a backup plan or some other marketable skills so you’re not up a creek if this industry does take its toll.”
“I don’t practice law anymore, but when I did I mostly did criminal defense and occasional civil cases. Almost all the attorneys I knew all had great professional lives and personal lives comprised of utter s**t.
Al**hol abuse was rampant. Drug use was frequent. I knew attorneys who had “pharmacy drawers” in their office that they consulted when they needed a specific remedy.
I knew a public defender who dropped d**d of a massive heart attack as he was leaving for court. One attorney I knew said he loved going to new restaurants because he and his wife didn’t have s** any more and that was his only real passion now.
And I’m sure there are some attorneys who love their job. I’m sure there are many who are satisfied. But glamorous? Not in my experience.”
“My sister just left her dream job as a Zoo Keeper so that she could go work at Petco.
Pays twice as much and has better benefits.”
12. Much better now.
“Working in film.
I thought I loved the job. And when I got out, I was floored by how much happier I was on a day-to-day basis. My standard for happiness was pretty much at ground level and I hadn’t even realized it.
When I did my last show, the folks there had worked with me for years at that point. They knew about what I had been doing the past few months, and that I was choosing to leave.
Multiple people, including the showrunner and that episode’s director (this was a huge network TV show), pulled me aside to give their well-wishes…and to say that I was living their secret dream of escaping the industry. Blew me away.
Guys with esteemed Hollywood careers that I thought were in love with the job, shaking their heads quietly and saying, “if only I’d have got out at your age.” Any lingering doubts about my choice vanished that day.”
13. I saw Black Swan.
Parents spend tens of thousands (or more) on training. They give up their entire teen years and schooling (most elite ballet dancers are homeschooled and a large percentage move away from home for training in high school).
Most dancers you see on stage in a ballet are paying to be there. The bottom rungs of ballet companies are pay to play. Then when you have paid to dance a few years you might be able to get a position that pays you with a dozen pairs of pointe shoes and a stipend for performances.
Then maybe you’ll be promoted to the bottom level where you get paid 20K a year and have no health insurance. All while putting your body through major t**ture.”
14. Not loving life.
“My SO is an attorney and isn’t loving life right now.
She says “You know how you did term papers in college? Well I do term papers every day, all day, endlessly.””
15. On the airwaves.
Like a lot of other jobs in the entertainment industry, it’s full time work for part time pay. Second jobs are common. Your pizza delivery guy just may be your favourite morning show host! At least, that’s how the morning guy at my station made ends meet, until he was laid off in the last round of cutbacks.
Now we’re a “hybrid station,” which is the preferred business model these days. That’s a fancy way of saying one person does everything while you run a ton of syndicated programs. 12 hour days of minimum wage.”
16. Never knew this.
Insanely competitive schooling that crippled you with debt, with a depressing debt:income ratio after graduation.
Most of your patients don’t like you, and most of the owners think you’re getting rich upselling them unnecessary services when their dogs’s exploding eyeball cancer can be cured with raw organic exotic meats/cbd/coconut oil, but you’re withholding that information because you’re in bed with Big Kibble.
High stress, stagnant wages, long hours, s**t holiday leave. Rampant depression. Lost count of how many colleagues have committed s**cide. Sometimes tempted to join them.”
“I don’t know if nightmare is the word, but my wife has finally reached her lifelong goal of becoming a zookeeper at one of the top zoos in the US.
She is very happy to have the opportunity to hand food to otters, have reindeer eat out of her hand, and brush okapi. However, she took on tens of thousands of dollars in student loans and did months of unpaid work at the zoo to get the job, which is seasonal, requiring she be off 2 months a year.
She gets up at 4 AM and does farmhand style physical labor for 8 hours a day for about $9 an hour with no benefits. I am thrilled that she reached her goal, and I am happy that she is happy, but I am pretty disenfranchised with the whole thing.”
18. A tough job.
“Being a chef. Long hours, bad environment, nothing is ever good enough.
I have a friend who’s a very successful chef. He told me, “If you love cooking, just cook for friends.””
19. No way.
Most jobs in politics pay very little money and require you to work 80+ hours a week for a boss who is guaranteed to have a gigantic ego.
You also have to look for a new job after every election day.”
20. Let’s face it.
The travel is amazing, but let’s face it.
You’re a glorified waitress working in a cramped, aluminium tube.”
21. The farm life.
“Farming on a large scale.
I was living in debt up to my a** ($500k-$1 mil depending on the time of year), haggling for every input (land, fertilizer, seed, equipment), at the mercy of the weather, and got to watch the commodity markets kick me in the nuts every business day.
The real cherry on top was everyone thinking you are trying to k**l them with GMOs and copious amounts of chemicals that we dont use. Not to mention farms are passed down through generations so you’ve got a bunch of d**d and living ancestors watching your every move.
Oh and a lot of farmers work a second full time job for the health insurance. There’s a reason farm s**cides are high and farm “accidents” are higher.
There’s a million young rural FFA kids that would give their left leg for a chance to farm.”
22. Down and out.
“I’m a professional, full-time voice actor.
I’m blessed to be successful and happy, but about 99% of the voice actors I know are depressed most of the time, struggling hard to find work, wrestling with impostor syndrome, questioning if they should give up, and barely able to make rent.
Particularly videogame/anime/animation actors.”
23. Not easy.
“This is kind of niche but, scuba dive instructor. I did it for 3ish years, I can’t begin to tell you how many times people wished they had my job.
A decent portion of the job was selling. I h**e forcing people to buy things, but I had to have a certain percentage of people buy a mask, at least. The mask was about 25% of the cost of an open water course. Chances are they’d never use it again.
Dive shop politics are insane. I worked 6.5 days a week for 90% of the year. If I turned down a course, I wouldn’t be given another until there were no other instructors available. If there were no courses going on, I still had to be in the shop incase someone came in.
During slow times there would be 7 or 8 instructors hanging around doing nothing. We all lived less than 5 minutes away. My dive shop would only hire people who were attractive enough. They’d also refuse to hire people who had trained at certain other dive schools in the area. The owners would go out of their way to be charming to the customers and then take the p**s out of them as soon as the were out the door.
The amount of responsibility is huge, and nobody even thinks about it until you point it out. You’re taking 4 people into a d**dly environment and have to bring them back in the same state they went into it in. If something goes wrong you can lose your license or go to jail.
Where I was working, these were pretty exclusively early to mid 20 year olds. Not only that, but if someone you trained has an incident at a later date, you can also be investigated and possibly prosecuted.
I was diving in 30C (86f) water. I constantly had an infection. Could be from a small cut, or my ears or my throat. It was constant.
Long, very hard work days. 12 hour days were about the norm. I’d teach, be dragging around the tanks I was responsible for weighing 20kg each as well as tonnes of other gear, and putting on my ‘be happy around the customer face’ whilst keeping them from d**ng. It’s like a combo of retail and warehouse work.
It also diluted my love of diving. Even when diving with professionals now I have a hard time not constantly being on alert, waiting for someone to do something stupid, rather than enjoying the dive.
Pay is dog s**t.
It’s an amazing job, but it turned my hair grey by 25.”
Yes, you sometimes meet famous people. Sometimes they’re cool, often they’re really not.
The days are 14+ hours of work with a commute of who knows how long on either end, depending where you’re shooting.
You have half an hour for lunch.
Coffee breaks are whenever you’re not needed on set, so depending on your job (I was in camera, and we rarely had a down moment), it could be almost never. More often than not, someone on set is yelling. People lose their minds over making really sh**ty entertainment. You start work by 7am on Monday, and by Friday you’re coming in at 4pm and leaving when the sun comes up on Saturday.
There are no paid holidays, no paid sick days, no paid vacation. If you don’t work enough qualifying hours, the union kicks your healthcare.
And this is if you’re IN a union. Non-union, much worse. S**ual harassment is through the roof, but the kids who get it the worst are afraid to say anything or they’ll lose their jobs. I have been told some real horror stories about famous actors, some of whom I still haven’t seen get outed by the Me Too movement.
And I’m not talking word-of-mouth, second-hand stories. I’m talking about young women who whisper to each other what shows to avoid and make them swear to never use their name because if they want to work in this industry, they can’t be known as a troublemaker.
I watched so many co-workers fall into addictions, lose family, miss their children’s lives, over the dumbest TV shows in the world. If you go union, the money can be good, but it’s not worth it. It’s just not worth it.”
Now you’re up!
In the comments, tell us which career paths you think are glamorized but are actually a nightmare.
Please and thank you!