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Guest Post: From Day Job to Dream Job: How This Cupcake Girl Got a Feature Film in 6 Easy Steps

Guest Post: From Day Job to Dream Job: How This Cupcake Girl Got a Feature Film in 6 Easy Steps

A lot of
people in Hollywood have a day job and work as writers, actors, directors, etc., by night. Well, I was just
the same, working at Sprinkles Cupcakes in Beverly Hills, when it occurred
to me that I might be able to turn this daytime paycheck into a life-long
dream. The first video I created for Sprinkles was an internal documentary
about the company. From there, I jumped to creating a short-film series for the
LA-based bakery. My first Sprinkles Short was “Strawberry” starring Yeardley Smith (the voice of Lisa Simpson!). Fast-forward
to today, where my first feature film “Fatal
Flip,” is airing on Lifetime in two days. And it was all a direct result of those
Sprinkles shorts!

So, here are six easy steps to turning your day job into a
dream job. 

Step 1: Get passionate about your day job. 

I know, I know, it’s not what you want to do forever, but there must be something you love? I was lucky enough to get
hired at a cool company that supplied me with me free cupcakes, an abundance
of fun people and the ability to pay rent and my student loans. But let’s face
it: at first, I saw it as a job. And a job isn’t always fulfilling. I looked around and said to myself, What is it
that makes these cupcakes so wonderful to people? I had fallen in love with the
Sprinkles culture and wanted to make my mark on their already amazing company. That’s when I got inspired to come up
something they couldn’t pass up.

Step 2: Come up with a
great idea and sell it to corporate.
The owners of Sprinkles, Charles
and Candace Nelson, had seen my thesis film while I was working behind the
counter on weekends (did I mention I have a ton of student loans?). They asked
me to create an internal video about their company and gave me an opportunity
to pitch them ideas. I pitched them an idea about the internal video, but I
also seized that moment to propose the potential of branded content, training
videos and press b-roll packages. Needless to say, they were very excited with
my main pitch idea; a short-film series themed after every Sprinkles cupcake
flavor. Even though they loved the idea, they weren’t sure when that would be a
possibility. But I left that meeting with them wanting more.

Step 3: Make a short film and prove how talented
you are.
I knew internal video was going to be the toughest to make, but
then an opportunity presented itself. I jump at the chance to make things happen.
Enter the lovely and gracious Yeardley Smith. I had become friendly with her after
meeting her on the set of the Simpsons, and she frequented the Beverly Hills Sprinkles
location. One day, Yeardley came into Sprinkles and kindly asked what I was up
to creatively. I quickly replied that I was creating a short-film series for
Sprinkles based on cupcake flavors. Yeardley loved the idea so much she gave me
her information and said she’d be delighted to be in one. I immediately called
the Sprinkles’ owners and said we had to make our first short. They happily agreed! That first Sprinkles short
showed talent and concept, but more importantly, it proved I could deliver.

Step 4: Create a new job for yourself. Sprinkles
knew my dream was to direct movies, so they knew I’d always have an eye on the
door when my big break came along. Their
solution to keeping my ideas in-house was creating a unique position at the
company for me. How did I convince them of my greatness, you ask? It was easy; I
just had an honest conversation about what I needed and where I wanted to
go. I told them Sprinkles wasn’t my ultimate
career goal, but if I had to have a job (which I did because of those pesky
student loans), I wanted it to be at Sprinkles. I told them I’d do my best to
support their company culture through my filmmaking talents while still
working behind the counter. To be honest,
I was bit shocked when, a week later, they created a position for me as
Producer of Digital Content. For me, being honest and truthful to myself paid
off.

Step 5: Get noticed by the film world. In total,
I have 10 Sprinkles short films, each varied and unique. In making them, I never tried to chase what I
thought would get a lot of clicks. Rather, I chose to create stories and
characters that made me excited. Then, they started getting noticed. And this
got me work outside of Sprinkles. Every freelance gig I got after that was usually
because someone saw one of my Sprinkles videos and liked it. I was slowly
proving myself to be a content creator with great ideas, even if it was on a
small scale.

Step 6: Get asked to direct something with just as
much passion for a major studio, AKA Lifetime. 
I’ve never been one to
fully embrace the networking element of this business, but I do love to meet
people I like for drinks. I recently reconnected with a friend from graduate
school, Hannah Pillmer, who had seen my Sprinkles Shorts. She was very
impressed with my work and offered me a feature-directing gig even though I
hadn’t directed anything longer than 15 minutes. I was grateful for the
opportunity, but I had to turn down the offer because the shooting schedule
conflicted with a passion project I was working on. To my surprise, Hannah gave
me an open door to send her any projects I had written that I also wanted to
direct. Hannah took a chance on me and gave me something very special — the
confidence to know when to say no because the right moment could actually be
further down the road. Thanks to her generosity and patience, I was able to
co-write and direct my first feature film, “Fatal Flip,” premiering on Lifetime
August 29th!

Bonus Step 7, THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP OF ALL. Throw away steps 1-6. You can’t do
what I did because I already did it! And I’m not even half-way done with it.
Plus, it can never be repeated. Trying
to replicate someone else’s steps will result in failure every time. All you
can do is figure out what you truly want, then go broke trying to get
there. Be pro-active, make stuff,
challenge yourself, make better stuff, fail a bunch, strive for uniqueness, be
singular, develop a voice, find your own Sprinkles, look for your own
opportunities, seek out windows to get in, kick doors down, make noise, get
dirty, schmooze, drink, network, write, put yourself out there, go crazy for a
bit, come back to reality, get depressed, get inspired, just figure it out for
yourself. It may take a long time to
achieve your goals, so make sure you’re in it for the long haul. Be ready to
live in the trenches for a few years, and dedicate yourself to learning your
craft. (And don’t go to grad school. Student loans suck.) I still don’t know how
I’ll get to where I want be, but I’m enjoying the ride and doing all I can to
push myself forward. 

Fatal Flip debuts on Saturday, August 29 at 8pm on Lifetime.

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