What types of menial, yet time-flexible jobs might a skilled vfx professional consider when he wants to leave his industry.
March 26, 2009 12:57 PM   Subscribe

I am a visual effects artist / supervisor looking to leave the industry to pursue acting. In the meantime I need a job that pays me enough to cover life expenses, but time enough to pursue my passion. Please help me brainstorm creative job possibilities beyond the typical "waiter" or "barista."


For the last few years I have worked as a 3d Graphics artist and CG supervisor working on both commercial and theatrical projects at both big and small studios in the Los Angeles area. My passion growing up was acting and theatrics - whereas computer graphics / vfx was a hobby of mine that eventually turned into a career. Prior to VFX, I did improv comedy around los angeles and flirted with the idea of chasing my dream to be a struggling actor. I gave up the acting dream for vfx mainly due to the 6-figure income and the status I felt associated with it. The ludicrous hours of the vfx world forced me to give up my weekly improv, my sketch comedy troupe and local theater productions that I was involved in.

In essence, I traded my time for money, and with that I also gave away my passion. Three years later I was depressed and unfulfilled, and growing more and more apathetic to clients and deadlines in a field I could really care less about. I subsequently quit my job and have spent the last three months unwinding and sorting out my life.

As far as acting is concerned, I do consider myself to have skill, and that assessment has been reinforced by people, both friends and strangers, throughout my life. I am attractive and very physically fit, and now seems to be the time to try. That being said, I make no illusions about my chances for success, and as a student of data and statistics I understand that it is more likely than not that I will not succeed to the standards that I hold for myself...so please, no comments on the difficulty of making it as an actor - I am all to cognizant of this reality.

What I do want, however, is input as to what type of job I can take in the meantime that will give me the time I need to pursue this.

To those knowledgeable about the industry, I have considered freelancing here and there to make good money (alternating a 6 week gig with time off for 6 weeks etc) but it is almost impossible to find a company that would let me out early enough to make my improv classes / performances that I have at 7:30 in hollywood 3 nights a week. The VFX industry simply doesn't allow for an outside life.

That leaves me considering more "menial" types of jobs...of which I am hopelessly naive. The cliches that come to mind are "waiter" or "barista" - but I have never had any type of service experience. I'd be more interested in a slightly more creative solution.



What types of jobs, along the lines of "waiter" or "barista" that are low in money but high in time might an ex-professional try a hand at to float me while I chase the dream?

Here are my criteria (obviously these can't all be met):

** Preferably does NOT involve sitting for long periods of time. I want something where I am active / on my feet / changing scenery.

** Preferably working with people. I am very, very social and playful, a job that would allow me to exercise this would be preferable.

** Flexible or even part-time.

**Atmosphere that is more light hearted, fun.

Options I have considered off the top of my head (without thinking about whether they are realistic):

-Car Rental place
-Something at a museum
-Something at a state park
-Extra work
-Personal trainer

Some of these seem too much like new career paths to me...I just want a source of income without too much responsibility and without feeling like I'm a total failure.

Can't wait for the input.
posted by jnnla to Work & Money (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have a decent nest egg tucked away for yourself?
posted by scarello at 2:34 PM on March 26, 2009

Well, I'll take a shot at this. I work in a restaurant, only evening shifts to leave my days free for auditions. And it's a large enough restaurant that I can take myself off the schedule when I have a gig (I haven't worked for a month because I've been in a show).

I also did data entry for a while, from home. Which was a great gig, because it was so flexible.

Other actors I know are:
web designers

Since you have some other skills, I'd urge you to figure out a way to freelance with those skills. Shift work is tolerable, but not nearly as nice as something you can control yourself--that way you don't have to dance around keeping your director, your agent AND your boss happy.
posted by stray at 2:37 PM on March 26, 2009

If you like working with children, I would highly recommend working in an after school or other recreational program, either at a school or community center. Based on my own experiences, something like this would fit the criteria you have listed. It's a lot less monotonous than babysitting and a generally dynamic yet low-stress environment. I am currently figuring some stuff out myself in terms of career goals, and my current gig in an afterschool program has been a really awesome holding job, with great hours and decent pay to boot (certainly more than retail, but probably less than waiting tables).
posted by shrimpsmalls at 8:06 PM on March 26, 2009

More things that actors I know do:
Yoga/Pilates/Dance instruction
Life coaching
Sell knives door to door (I wouldn't recommend this one..the guy I know who's doing it is dyin' out there)
Speech therapy/ESL
Children's Drama
Historical Animation
Extra/Background Artist work
Voiceover (Nice work if you can get it)
Movie concession

Many people sign up with temp agencies.
posted by stray at 11:49 PM on March 26, 2009

« Older How much would you give up starting your own...   |   "No kings," ok, sure, but wtf? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.