Manjit Bains is still suffering from what she calls a result of “following my dream.”
Bains gave up a successful career in business at the age of 33 to study film production at Vancouver Film School.
Bains, now 41, is juggling several part-time jobs and considering going back to school again.
Stepping into Bains’ small apartment, a one-bedroom suite in her parents’ house in Surrey’s Bear Creek Park neighbourhood, where she lives with her cat Toby, is like stepping into a gallery. The walls are painted in classy purple and champagne, decorated with self-made paintings of blossoms, trees and abstracts, many of them in warm, red, and eggplant colours.
The fridge doors and the walls are also full with photographs of relatives and self-portraits. Film books and a slick laptop occupy the shelves. An easel with an unfinished picture of a woman in an evening dress is one of many indications a creative mind lives in these walls.
Bains says she took on positions in over 25 different independent productions after graduating with honours from Vancouver Film School.
“I didn’t realize that with indie shoots, I wouldn’t just be having one role. I was performing sometimes five different roles, working 17 ½-hour days, with little or no pay. I was exhausted after every shoot.”
After a few years, her funds ran out. She cashed her RSP and savings, maxed out her line of credit, and eventually felt she needed to put film aside.
“I didn’t want to, I felt I finally found my passion,” Bains says. “Everyone says ‘Follow your passion.’ ”
Bains sent out 250 resumes and job applications in two years, with little success.
“I am broke,” Bains says, “I have a car and what’s in this house and nothing else in the world. And Toby. . . All of that is gone, in order to follow my passion.”
Bains, who loves writing, is not pessimistic, though. She pulls out a thick manuscript for a novel, which she wrote in the last year and is keen on turning into a screenplay.
She is also taking evening classes for a degree in child and youth care at Douglas College, a program that combines her love for people and the arts.
“When you hit rock bottom, there’s no place to go but up.”
Next week: Michael Thuncher, film colourist
Reported by Katja De Bock
***This six-part series was originally created as a feature length article at Langara College’s journalism department. The series shows the faces of some of B.C.’s film industry workers who are affected by the recent decline in jobs. Some of them are involved in the #SaveBCFilm movement, others are relocating or reinventing themselves professionally. But all are passionate film lovers, and great people.***