In my “real” life, I am a life-long marketer/branding/storyteller/communications executive who has made a positive impact on the bottom line of Fortune 500 retailers, sports marketing firms, small businesses, as well as city and state government. My expertise lies in redoing all aspects of branding, innovation and capturing stories that demonstrate a business’ heart and authenticity.
I started doing BG work to fill time after a layoff, continued to do it when my schedule allowed after committing to a full-time job and now it is serving to keep me and my soul feeling satisfied, valued and connected as I conduct a search for my next full-time “real” opportunity in marketing and communications.
While some may see the BG work as unconventional, I find it has a lot of strong parallels to the corporate life. For example, BG is there to enhance the scene to provide a better, authentic experience for the viewing audience. That is a lesson in humility I carry forward—I am only a part of a team and the team is not about me. When we all work together, do our part—no matter how big or small--and align our goals, we deliver a polished and desirable end result.
The collection of diversity in the BG world is impressive. I love hanging out in holding with a cross-section of humanity! This part of the job is for me as rewarding and as interesting as seeing myself escape the cutting room floor and appear on the TV.
I have played games of cards, shared intimate stories, laughed, nearly cried and celebrated with aspiring actors/writers/crew, people who have BG for 30 years, retired folks who share time and experiences together, executive who use PTO time to shoot a few times a month, students and…this can go on and on. There is no one type of BG. Yet this melting pot of people and their varied reasons why keep it entertaining, stimulating and exciting. I need to continue to celebrate the diversity and welcome everyone’s uniqueness—in corporate life and set life.
On set, it is the director’s vision—shaped by input, audience demographics and a need to stay true to the brand—that shape and drive each scene. In corporate life, a similarly transparent leader doesn’t leave things open to interpretation and guesswork. Everyone is given clearly defined roles and jobs and the environment thrives on collaboration.
BG work also reminds me that one doesn’t get what one hasn’t worked for and achieved. Featured actors and crew have one set of snacks, get to go through the food lines first (wait—catering is amazingly off the hook on most productions—yum!), grab the first transportation and, well, you get it. As BG, you haven’t earned that status. I see some BG voice displeasure, harbor resentment and wish they were afforded the same consideration of those who are higher up the ladder in both importance and pay. Hey, they have earned their rung and if it bothers you, then work to climb higher, not work harder to bring others down, making the workplace toxic.
There are no consistent hours as a BG except what time to be on set. The day may be 2 hours or 20—the lesson here is that the work is done when the job is completely finished to a high level of satisfaction.
Watching the crew work—so many people working in synchronicity—so many different roles and different levels in the jobs—really increases appreciation for an organized plan enhanced by out-of-box improvisation. And the magic that comes through to the audience—a car explosion, a surgery miracle, the belief that what they are seeing is real and authentic—reminds me that nothing eclipses teamwork, planning, and practiced execution, resulting in a final perfect result.
So, Background work and my “real” job are surprising similar.