In this series which appears in In Focus Magazine from The Guild of Television Camera Professionals, Jo Hodges and Liz Bell, camera operators and co-founders of Fusion Film and TV answer questions from readers and fellow camera operators on industry issues and give advice where needed.

In addition to camera operating/supervising and running their production company, Jo and Liz are both qualified transformative life coaches who work specifically with those in the media. You can read more about them and their work here.

Q1. When I’m away on OB’s I always feel like I don’t fit in because I don’t drink alcohol and as everyone’s always going for a drink after work I feel awkward. I do like to socialise but now I’m finding myself going back to my room rather than facing the questions and judgement. What can I do to fit in better?

This is more common than you think and I know plenty of non-drinkers in the industry these days as times ‘they are a-changing’. With the explosion of the non-alcoholic drinks market over the last few years, non-drinkers are no longer relegated to nursing a pint of lime and soda for the entire evening, there’s now plenty of choice including some pretty good “mocktails”. 

There are two things to address here:  Your own perception of not fitting in amid a changing culture but not fast enough to make you feel less nervous about being the odd one out, and perhaps feeling you need alcohol to be deemed “interesting”?

Firstly, you don’t need to feel like you should be making any more effort than anyone else on any job, but I know that’s sometimes easier said than done. 

Maybe see it this way; when you go out, you go out to spend time with people you enjoy being with. When you are working, it’s nice to wind down after work all together to gossip (in TV, surely not!) or catch up on work goings on. You can still do that with a soft drink; perhaps you need to get used to being out and owning your choices.  If anyone makes you feel the odd one out in this scenario then I suspect they aren’t worth spending time with anyway. I’m sure there will be plenty in the group who don’t behave like that and if you socialise as you would normally do then hopefully they will get bored of asking.  I do find having a practised answer to the inevitable questions is useful. No one should be made to feel out of place because they choose not to drink though and you have as much right and social need to be there as anyone else without making any extra effort! You be you! Hopefully, most of your colleagues will support and surprise you. Show them it’s possible to have fun without a drink and be a small part of changing their perceptions too.

Overall, I think this is a cultural problem not just a working away one as we are still very skewed to catering for heavy drinking cultures in the UK, but I do feel things are changing with plenty of information about moderation or abstinence being better health choices. So who knows, in a few years they may feel like they are the odd ones out, instead! – Liz

Q2. I currently have a staff job but I think I’m ready to take the plunge and go freelance. I’m really nervous, however, about the financial side of it all and not having enough money to pay my bills. What can I do to prepare for the lifestyle change?

A large majority of TV Camera Operators are self-employed. Running your own business can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it can also come with its own unique set of challenges. One of the most important things to consider when starting out as a freelancer is your mindset about finances.

The first step is to understand that being self-employed means that you are responsible for your financial success. This can be a daunting prospect for many people, but it is important to embrace the responsibility and take control of your finances. This means setting clear financial goals, creating a budget (and sticking to it), and tracking your expenses.

It is also important to realise that there may be times when your income is inconsistent. As we all know in TV, there will be times when you have plenty of work and other times when you have very little. This can be stressful, but it is important to remember that financial ups and downs are a normal part of being self-employed. By creating a budget and having an emergency fund (typically 6 months of bills), you can prepare for these fluctuations and ride them out without too much stress.

Another important mindset shift to make when becoming self-employed is to view your finances as a business. This means treating your finances with the same level of professionalism and attention to detail that you would give to any other aspect of your business. This includes keeping detailed records, tracking your income and expenses, and regularly reviewing your financial situation.

Finally, it is important to have a positive attitude towards money. Many people have a negative attitude about money, such as thinking that it is safer and easier to do nothing than take responsibility. These beliefs can hold you back from achieving financial success. Instead, focus on developing a positive relationship with money. See it as a tool that can help you achieve your goals and live the life you want.

By embracing responsibility, preparing for fluctuations in your income, treating your finances as a business, and having a positive attitude towards money, you can set yourself up for financial success and enjoy the many benefits of being a freelancer. – Jo

It’s the end of another year and we would like to say a few words of cheer and encouragement. The holiday period can be a stressful time at work for most of us but it’s important to remember to spread some cheer! Whether it’s bringing a tub of Quality Street (other chocolates available) to work or just acknowledging someone’s hard work, spreading some good vibes can make a big difference to our mindset.

So, maybe our Christmas wish this year is to take a moment to be kinder to each other and remember it is after all the season of goodwill. Here’s to a wonderful new year ahead.

Jo & Liz at Fusion Film and TV