My mom says I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I was just a tiny girl and told her "I want to be a movie star and a cinematographer". That lingers in her memory because she said I was way too young to be able to pronounce 'cinematographer'. She was surprised I knew what it meant. Growing up on the East Coast in the 1970's, 3000 miles away from Hollywood, this always felt like an unobtainable goal for me, so I kept my dream to myself. I remember using sheets and blankets and hanging "curtains" around the house to create my own "sound stages" It drove my father nuts! I wrote my own scenes and performed them alone, with only my dogs as an audience. But things were very different back then and being so far away from Hollywood, with no connections and no one to spur me on to tell me I could do it, I pursued the "safe" and traditional life: college, marriage, baby, and the corporate business world. But the higher I climbed the corporate ladder, the less I liked the view.
Being diagnosed with two life-altering illnesses in 2001 forced me to give up my 9 to 5 job and left me floundering on what to do next. When my son got involved in acting and I was on my first film set, I felt like a duck that had been raised in a chicken coop and someone had found me, picked me up and had thrown me into the water, where I BELONGED... and it was EUPHORIC! I knew I was EXACTLY where I was supposed to be.
I was fascinated with every aspect of filmmaking and began taking any work on a film set to learn every part of it, no matter how small. working for free in order to gain experience. I did everything from craft services, wardrobe, horse wrangling, boom operator, slate girl, production assistant, camera assistant and script supervisor. It was all very hard work but the best hard work I've ever done. I can't say there is any other work I would do so willingly for free! :)
So, it has taken me 40 years to come full circle to my dream, but late is always better than never, yes? And isn't it amazing how privileged few get to go back to the dream we had as children?