Survival of the Fittest (Hollywood-Style)
Updated: Sep 25, 2020
~ Charles Darwin
When the pandemic first hit, and everything closed down, many people were suddenly out of work. I spoke with a successful consultant for the hospitality industry, and I asked her how the event professionals she works with will survive the shutdown. She said the usual, "They hit the pavement... network... make calls," etc. The biggest vendors will be fine, she said. They have a pretty good cushion beneath them, and all their customers still have a ton of money. But it's the smaller vendors that could collapse. So how do they stay afloat? "They adapt," she said. The businesses that survive are the ones that adapt to the new reality. This really struck me. In times like these, when there is very little work for certain industries, the way for those people to keep working is to change the way they look at their work. If you're a caterer, stop looking at your career as one where you can only make large meals for large social gatherings. Those gatherings aren't happening anymore. Instead, look at how you can cater for a different type of model, one where people are separated, on Zoom 24/7, and not getting dressed up to go out any time soon.
Baldor Specialty Foods is a company that provides food for restaurants. But when restaurants started shutting down, Baldor didn't have clients to sell to anymore. So what did they do? They changed the way they looked at their industry. People weren't going to restaurants anymore; they were stuck in their homes instead. But people were also afraid to go to the supermarket, so companies like Amazon Fresh, Fresh Direct, and the like, were totally overloaded, and customers had to wait two weeks for a food delivery. So Baldor stepped in, and started selling to private customers, instead of just businesses. In fact, Baldor was the only place you could buy tofu for like a month! (not that I'd know from experience.)
What does that mean for actors and screenwriters? Film and TV hasn't entirely shut down, but it's not the best time to go seeking a new agent. Think about new ways to look at your career. If you're a screenwriter, shoot a short film in your apartment with your roommate (or spouse, or whatever you live with.) Host an online film festival for movies that were made only in the filmmakers' homes. If you're an actor, start an Instagram campaign like comedian Sarah Cooper who started making social media videos of her lip syncing Trump's interviews (the girl has 855K followers... I mean, c'mon.)
Get out of your narrow thinking, and climb out of that box. Don't just wait for this thing to be over... adapt!