August 25th, 2014. The first day I moved to Chicago after graduating high school. I was 19 and I thought this was what I wanted. I was attending Columbia College Chicago, and I thought this is the step I needed to take to get closer to my dream life. Everyone makes that initial step into an arena they aren't sure about but it feels right, most of the time. I had my whole 4 years planned out. Network with all of the top Chicago artists and creatives, and graduate in 2018 and move to LA in 2019 to start my life.
LIVING THE "TYPICAL" LIFE
My entire life I was put in an educational shell. Go to school - make good grades - graduate college - get a 9-5. I hated the last part of that idea. Who the F**K wants to work a 9-5 that they hate and work for someone else? Most people are okay with this but I wasn't. Let's go back a few years. I started my video "company" in 2013, "Parker Foster Visuals". I was doing videos for local artists and getting some attention while putting some decent work out. It came around to mid 2014 and my parents were asking what college I wanted to go too. I don't remember my exact response but it was something like "I don't need to go to college to be a video director" (which isn't true or false).
They basically said you can go to college or stay at home and work as an intern somewhere or go to community college. I knew I wasn't staying in Dallas cause I wanted to go to a big city and not be around every close minded person in Texas. I was watching my friend's work, Jake Osmun, and he was attending columbia college Chicago. I saw he was doing stuff with artists and it seemed like a good fit. So, I visited the school and fell in love with Chicago. It's one of those places you have to go too and feel the energy, you feel invincible. I knew that's where I wanted to go and I thought it would all work out.
Before I continue, I just wanna say Columbia is a great school and in no way do I think you should drop out. This is from the perspective of myself and my experience
With that being said, I hated school lol. I was in class with kids who didn't even know if they wanted to be a filmmaker. I even had classes that were FOCUSED on film that the people in my class didn't even study for. It was all about who was throwing the party that weekend at Depaul or UIC. I hated the environment and the people who made it negative. I wanted to find creatives who wanted to make cool s**t and do that every day, nothing. Barely anyone had a camera or even wanted to go shoot. So I tried hard as hell to book music video shoots every month and make that my main focus, not school. I had talks with my parents about dropping out and they weren't allowing it. I was fortunate enough to have my tuition paid for and be debt free without student loans, so telling them I wanted to drop out was like watching money be thrown away
I eventually started picking up work and they saw how passionate I was about it. So, I dropped out and got my own place in downtown Chicago. It was the best decision of my life. I was flying all over the place for shoots,working with creatives who were passionate, and getting paid for all of this. It was the dream life (and it still is).
But, what did I miss out on? I had the dream life, right? Everything was going up, I had it all. That wasn't the case. Ask anyone whose dropped out of high school or college, you don't have that social element anymore. Of course you work with clients all the time but you don't have that level of intimacy with anyone. No love life or new friends even your age. It's a working environment now on a client - client basis. You get so caught up with your new life, the social element has dissolved. That's one of the cons with this decision. It's not all flashing lights, it take a toll on you. But it's all about risk vs reward and my favorite quote to go along with that "I'm not telling you it's gonna be easy, I'm telling you it's gonna be worth it"
LIVING WITH REGRETS
I always think "what if I stayed in school?" "what if I didn't drop out" and it scares the s**t out of me. Because I would probably be signing up for fall courses now, and going to my junior year of school. I would't be in LA, I wouldn't own a RED, I wouldn't have a manager. What would I be?
I could care less because in this life, your only life - you should only care about forward thinking. The past is the past and you can't change it. Everything moves so quick and opportunity comes so quick that you should always be looking out for it. If you are in the creative world stay in your lane and make your own path. That's where a lot of people fail and just don't get it. People have this mindset, "if I go to school and major in film, when I graduate I'll be creative and make great work". This is false. It's about the hours and time you put into your craft. No one is going to teach you anything on being creative, you have to learn that from doing. I had kids in my class who could name every detail of pulp fiction but didn't even know how to shoot. You go into college making s**t work, you are going to graduate making s**t work. No one cares about the diploma or saying "Oh I went to film school, hire me". This will never be a thing. I've shot videos with almost $10K budgets and the question never came up, "could we see your college diploma?". It's always been the same with $10 budgets and $1,000,000 budgets. "You make dope s**t we wanna hire you" and that's it. It's about the product, not the accolades you racked up in your film class. Focus on your lane and making better work every day.
Taking risks is a huge part of growing as a visual artist. Don't be afraid to fail, because that will only make you better. The worse thing you can do is sit back and let your school or friends control your life because you're scared of f*****g up. Find what you are good at/ what you like and hyper focus on that everyday and figure out to how make money off of it. Not only will you be living your dream but you will be inspiring the person next to you who is afraid to step up and take control.