- I budget my personal life like I budget a film in production or professional expenses.
- A useful method is to break spendings into categories: housing, food, health, transportation, gas, insurance, professional material, subscriptions, entertainment, pensions… and contingency.
One of the first elements to cut whenever possible are subscriptions, it is important to calculate the cost and either justify its necessity or quickly update your subscriptions, as those are recurrent costs. Also, try and cut all the unnecessary expenses that come up here and there – this is where monitoring our account becomes very valuable, especially in a post-covid world, where contactless payments are more frequent.
As natural as it may seem, you can be surprised by the budget for magazines and chocolate bars, you thought would be a minimum! Moreover, having a clear idea of our spending, helps us set our goals in terms of our rate as a freelancer, or salary (remembering as a freelancer, we are likely not to work 365 days a year, either, because of the time spent on training, networking, etc).
Eventually, my decisions in spending money come down to this: is it eco-friendly indeed (low carbon footprint), is it authentic, is it top quality?
In terms of lifestyle, I am all about minimalism, which encourages me to invest in things I love, instead of accumulating things I only like. In other words, when you have fewer options, you force yourself into a positive mindset!
Minimalism began as an art form in the 1960s and suits me well as by owning less, I free up the time, energy, and money to get the most out of life. The silver lining of the pandemic is that it forced us to reconsider many aspects of our lives and expenses. You can also try and apply minimalist to any part of life, and see the positive impact of your confidence, as well as on your carbon footprint. Committing to a minimalist wardrobe is an easy place to start.
Equally, it usually is very economic in the long run (buying products you can reuse, which contributes to your health, productivity…). For every week, month, or special occasion, I have a budget in mind to spend. I review my accounts every week, to monitor and cut spends whenever possible for the near future.
Turning our lives into a minimalist, eco-friendly one is a process, all the more as you can be called any time for presenting or for a role that requires 12 shades of yellow in your wardrobe – because it does happen! This lifestyle requires educating yourself to measure the carbon footprint of what you buy and read behind the marketing of brands. This is why the authenticity of what we buy is key. For instance, I took advantage of the pandemic to make the bathroom « green », basically, 95% based on aloe vera.
As a filmmaker, a Festival Director, and a Professional trainer, I feel lucky I have the opportunity to educate myself on these topics, watching documentaries and studying the newest technologies and trends. In my eyes, eco-friendly has nothing to do without marketing, it is the way I live. As an artist, I directed my debut period drama feature The Golden Age to pay tribute to all artists who bring change, and I highly hope I can contribute to bring change in real life myself. Film is Ecoprod certified and we champion green in all connected industries. Some of our film partners like the mythical Byblos Hotel, have their own sustainable Chart and eco-friendly restaurant, which is a very exciting achievement.
My work balance has massively improved over time, as I have grown my comfort zone through the years and months, gained experience and still consider training and eco-friendly as an essential of my work. Knowledge is power, this is why I constantly educate myself, embrace new experiences, listen… and give. We organise regular panels at the Paris International Film Festival I run. The next one in line is on May 20th and deals with resilience, we are welcoming Marketing Specialist Charlotte Atkinson, and the Filmmaker of Tyrants of Tomorrow Telethon, Breaking The Rules Feature Award Winner at the recent edition of the Paris International Film Festival. These are happening on Zoom and tackle various topics, every attendant receives an ebook prior to each session with some resources that are specific to what is being discussed during the event, so they can come with their notebooks and questions and benefit from it as much as they can. Each session lasts about hour and communication with fellow participants and panelists is highly encouraged to network and meet new talents to partner with.
Training is important for me. As I’ve been teaching for almost 10 years now, education is also essential to me. I need my daily amount of training and knowledge. I check the Screen Skills website regularly to apply for training schemes and get myself updated on the changes of our industry. It’s also a great way to connect with top industry talents and bounce back with ideas on your upcoming projects.I also make sure I support filmmakers with my experience and knowledge to get their projects to the next step, though 121 and at Festivals’ panels. The Valley Film Festival directed and founded by Tracey Adlai 21 years ago, hosts come wonderful conference week-ends, I have recently had the opportunity to speak on their 3-Day Conference Supporting Self-Care and Career Wellness for Filmmakers and Creatives, to discuss two main topics : Recognising the Career Opportunity and Seizing it, Anxiety and the Artist (non-medical tips to build resilience in times of uncertainty). More are being set in the coming weeks.
It is important to stay connected with the industry, « be there » at the virtual events, take, listen and exchange with your peers, surround yourself with the very best people. Festivals are key for you to find your tibe and build your community. You can join fantastic organisations like WFTV I’m glad to be part of, whether you’re in the USA or the UK. I also enjoy being part of Film Fatales in the USA, they’re a fantastic community to support and network with. Aside from organisations, you can also involve in online panels, virtual Festivals & screenings, get to meet fellow talents in the industry and follow-up with them.
Last but not least, it is important to take notice, be aware of the simple things that bring us joy. In my eyes, it can be something as simple as bringing the green and earth elements into my workspace, bringing in the flowers into the office, or visualising the sustainable practices I want to see more in the world. I also make time to meet « new people » virtually, at least once a week and spend great moments with my friends and loved ones – even in lock-down I get on regular Zoom meetings, and always make sure to laugh a lot and make them laugh and feel happy!. I couldn’t imagine my life without their friendship and love, sharing the joy of my work and experiences with them is beautiful.
Written by Jenna Suru.
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