So the storyboard job is well underway; I wrote about it in a previous post. I’m drawing storyboards for a few sequences in the new Kevin Costner comedy Swing Vote. The work is going very well, indeed — so well that I find myself with plenty of down time.
Don’t get me wrong, I love down time — especially when I have other projects to work on, like the Annie comic strip which needs a week’s worth of strips, six dailies and a color Sunday, done every week. By starting early, over the weekend, and putting in evenings, I got the week’s worth done today, just in time for the July 4 holiday — I’ll be able to relax tomorrow.
But the reason this down time is significant is that the film company’s paying me by the day. I’m getting a day rate, for five days total, and to be honest, they’re not working me very hard so far.
Of course, if it doesn’t bother them it shouldn’t bother me. We’re not behind schedule, in the least — on the contrary, they might love the latest revisions I sent them this afternoon and not want me to go back and tighten them up, and I’ll be done two days early.
But when I agreed to work five days, I committed myself to them for those days. The other work I’ve done was never at the expense of their work — it was only done while I was waiting to hear back from them, after finishing the work so far and sending it in for review. But to part of me it still feels like I’m cheating, like I’m getting away with something.
I remind myself that as long as I make myself available to them — and I haven’t made any other appointments or commitments for these days so that I would be available to them — then it’s okay if, while I’m waiting to hear from them, I take care of other work. It’s actually a great arrangement for me, obviously. The director seems happy with the work so far, as does the director of photography. So it’s all good, right?
In fact, as a freelancer whose time is valuable I have a duty to make the most of the down time, to take full advantage of the gaps in my storyboarding workload to get other work out of the way. To not do so might make me feel more loyal to the film company — for reasons that don’t even make any sense as I’m writing this — but they’d be at the expense of my business. I can’t afford that kind of luxury.
Just as a good freelancer needs to accept without shame when things aren’t going well, a good freelancer also has to accept, without guilt, when things are.