This story is part of the Broke Millennial No More series.
I am Broke Millennial’s little sister – the Broker Millennial. 2 Broke 2 Blog. Broke Millennial 2: More Broke, More Millennial. The iteration with West Coast flavor… More craft kombucha, less credit. Edit away, sis. I graduated from film school in 2014 and unthinkably had a freelance producing job right out of college. I was being paid $75 a (12-hour) day but grateful to be paid anything at all doing something I genuinely enjoyed. It was a travel job that lasted on-and-off for around a year, but I didn’t exactly rack up cash doing it. I’ve continued freelancing with limited financial pay off — it’s been a steady grind to an okay day rate and a “I don’t work for under minimum wage anymore unless it is for my closest friends” attitude. It is truly astounding how little people regard your time and work when you’re a professional in a creative field. To this day, strangers ask me to work on their passion projects for “experience” or “credit” or other things that my landlord does not accept as rent payment at least twice a month. They are insulted when I turn them down. I am a firm believer in paying people to do their work, period, end stop and also being paid to work, period, end stop.
In 2015, I began an Amazon wish list that contained my greatest hopes and dreams (among the items: a TV, a Blu-Ray player, nice spatulas, a mattress topper). With optimistic chutzpah, I named this list “WHEN I HAVE $” and added to it mostly at 2:30am when my bleary eyes most wanted to fixate on Jeff Bezos’ capitalist miracle. At the top of the list was an Ultra HD 49-inch Roku TV. I longed for the day I could watch TV on a TV rather than on my computer screen. How glorious it would be to see the pores on Gordon Ramsey’s face as he screamed at chefs to be better. How I’d relish texting my east coast family “WHO IS WATCHING NETFLIX AT 4AM I HAVE A REAL TV NOW” from 1AM in Los Angeles (my mom and sister both regularly fall asleep watching Netflix and bar me from watching on our family account much to my pacific time chagrin).
Years passed. I moved from producing short films and documentaries to low-budget music videos, which is truly a lateral move though perhaps you’ve never lived until you are at a grocery store in Agoura Hills trying to decide what kind of cheese Kevin Hart’s wife meant when she asked you to go get him some cheese. (I got him all of the cheese. Also Kevin Hart tried to have a music career in 2016. His rapper name was Chocolate Droppa. The more you know.) Everyone I worked for seemed to have it all – money, power, a TV.
This should be the part where I get my big break and am “broke no more,” right? Kevin Hart recognizes my ability to choose cheese under pressure, takes me into his comedic empire, and I become his personal cheesemonger! Alas, Kevin and I never met again. However, there was a B-plot steadily underway. In late 2016, a TV network decided to develop a short film my friends and I had made in 2015. It’s fun to write that as a single sentence but it took three years to get to that place. We entered the development process which basically means someone was paying us a decent amount of money (that we split three ways, so a sorta okay amount of money) to write a TV pilot – which was something we had been doing for free up until that point.
I found out about the development deal in December 2016. We worked with the network in the coming months but did not get our first checks until August 2017. Hollywood is wild! I could have had a baby in that time. But I didn’t – I just birthed a really long Amazon wish list. I picked up the check from our New York based agent in August and immediately went to a Bank of America to cash it. It was the biggest check I’ve ever gotten. I took deep breaths and wondered if someone can mug you for a check. (This moment was only rivaled by the money anxiety I had in August 2016 where I had to pick up $10,000 cash from a label executive that would serve as the budget for a music video and then go deposit it at Bank of America. The teller thought I was a prostitute and had to bring the manager over to talk to me. Ask Bank of America for the footage.)
This is the part of the story where I should have been fiscally mature and just given myself a moment of having money. That is what the other Lowry sister would’ve done. Instead, I did something Erin would probably never do, unless I dragged her with me…, I beelined for Sephora because Fenty Beauty was new on the scene and Rihanna is my favorite pop star. My wallet and I supported the hell out of Rihanna that day and didn’t even have to feel guilty about it, which was a first. Fenty Beauty made me beautiful and all my life problems were solved because beautiful people don’t have problems.
Just kidding! While Fenty Beauty did mattify my skin and provide me with unparalleled foundation coverage (if only this were sponsored by Fenty), it wasn’t until one month and a second pay check later that my life problems were solved: I finally bought that TV. Clicking through Amazon’s check out system has never felt so good and probably never will. I set a goal and took years to achieve it and now I have 49-inches of pixels in my living room as a reminder of what hard work can do. My “WHEN I HAVE $” wish list is still growing because the reality is I’m still a broke millennial – but I celebrate those “broke no more” moments, even though they’re (currently) temporary.
Cailin Lowry is a screenwriter, director and video producer. She is currently crowdfunding for THE SOCIETY™, a dark comedy short film that tackles clinical depression, flaws in mainstream feminism, shifting power dynamics between women, reality TV, self-isolation via technology and modern dating culture. Her non-entertainment industry life ambitions include adopting a dog, owning a quality coffee maker, and living in a place with a garage for her car only. A woman can dream. She would also like to be a part of making movies that have people laughing and thinking, hopefully at the same time.
Written by Cailin Lowry
Photo from Cailin Lowry, taken by Alexandra French
Edited by Erin Lowry
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