"When are you going to quit?"
That was the question I was thrown at all the time from my friends and some colleagues who left the TV production company in London before I chose to quit. I lasted three years.
I was in charge of editing, audio recording, directing short documentaries and coordinating some shoots. I then was hired by a TV Broadcaster to work as a news and documentary cameraman. My career in the media industry is now total of 6 years.
I look back at the time I was in that TV Production company, and of course there are great benefits of working there, I managed to start my career there and built up skills, experiences and connections. However, there are negative sides as well and those were the reasons I felt I had to move on from that company.
My salary was dead low.
I started working for free the first few months and then went to get below minimum wage. After one year it went up to minimum wage because they hired me officially. After that it went up one hundred pounds per year, but that depended on heavy negotiation.
I was in a terrible situation financially. I had to live in an apartment shared by 10 people in London. My room was small, I could touch both sides of my wall with my hands extended.
It is sad, but, it is not rare to hear a filming company running on free or cheap assistant's blood. I didn't have to rely on my parents to keep myself alive, but financially, I was not getting any where with this company.
Working fulltime means your salary is fixed.
I gained the experience which I needed by trading my salary and by sacrificing a lot of time. I could do that because I was young, 22 - 24 years old. I was in no position to support a family even if I wanted. I would have had to quit and find something else!
From the start I worked there, I told myself that I am going to work there because of my passion, willingness to learn and not for the money. I was desperate to get a starting job to break into the media industry. However, after three years of work, I felt my work contribution went beyond what they offered to pay. I was drowning in the amount of work and the return I was receiving from the company. I was in psychological pain every night towards the end and was constantly angry towards the company and at the people who hired me.
To conclude, the demerit for me was the money.
Having said that, after 6 years of career in the industry, I am beginning to feel that crises is a big motivator for positive change. As default, I believe we are lazy and will take a strong action when in danger. I am glad that I took the choice to leave there and learn that lesson.
Have you ever worked in a production company? Let me know your experience!
I am a documentary/News cameraman based in London.