So, Will Smith made a bad call by turning down the leading role in the Matrix. I think that this interesting story involves more than meets the freelance eye. Here’s why.
Why Good Freelancers Choose Bad Projects?
It happens even to the best of actors and freelancers. They simply take the wrong turn and end up working on a bad movie or freelance project.
Why is it so easy to make a mistake?
Well, I can think of a handful of the most common reasons. I will use Will Smith’s story as the perfect illustration. He actually made more than just one mistake, which cost him this iconic role.
I’m Just Too Good For Some Projects
Just to clarify. I’m not saying that you should become a yes-man freelancer. You don’t have to accept every single project that comes along your freelance way. Respect any client and project no matter how small or less significant they may seem.
Will Smith judged the creative duo Wachowski quickly and unfairly. In his video, he’s painfully honest about it. He said something like, “who were they?” The same thing happens to freelancers who judge their potential clients by their initial budgets.
Sometimes The Gods Bless You In The Morning And Curse You In The Afternoon
This is a priceless quote from the movie Troy. I learned its true meaning the hard way. Before I launched a new freelance platform goLance, I used to be a freelancer myself. At one point, I was doing so good that I thought, I didn’t need any new clients. So, I turned down a couple of good projects. In less than a week, I lost some of my most important clients for the reasons I couldn’t possibly predict.
What happened to Will Smith? Instead of the Matrix universe, he decided to become a part of the Wild Wild West movie world. The rest is the poor box office history.
Movie Franchises and Long Term Freelance Hourly Projects Are The Same
Sometimes you can make lots of money from a single movie or a project. That’s a fact, but there’s a catch. Pay attention to the word I just used “sometimes.” You don’t get roles that are worth tens of millions of dollars as an actor and projects worth tens of thousands of dollars every single day.
A small movie franchise or a small freelance project with a modest budget, but a huge long-term potential can pay itself off big time. You have to be patient and smart enough to notice a big chance while it’s still in diapers.
The Big Budgets Don’t Guarantee Happiness
You can be perfectly unhappy while working on a seemingly perfect project. Very often the often the most important pieces of a freelancer’s portfolio are the smallest projects. The same applies to the actors. Some of them literally worked for peanuts to build their reputation. Some of the most critically acclaimed roles were poorly compensated, but they paved the way to the hefty paychecks.
I’ve witnessed it first-hand more than once how pro bono freelance work attracted many clients.
Don’t Feel Stressed Because You’re Actually Blessed
Will Smith is a great actor because he has made more good than bad calls in his career. Consider yourself to be a blessed freelancer if you have to make choices more than you want. You can’t always choose a good project to work on. So, relax and enjoy your freelance ride.
Your greatness is not how you behave while you’re winning, but rather how you deal with it while you’re losing. That’s why you have to admire Will Smith. He turned one of the biggest mistakes in his career into a funny story.
If you can avoid bitterness then you can ensure happiness.
After all, Wild Wild West ain’t that bad. Right?
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What Can Freelancers Learn From Will Smith’s Mistakes? was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.