So at this juncture in my career, I'm at a fork in the road with what I want to do. I originally started out DP'ing low budget projects. I never went to film school so everything was self taught through experience, books, research, watching movies, etc. It was great, and I really enjoyed it but then someone pointed me towards AC work. I learned more in one day as an AC than I had the entire time I was DP'ing low budget stuff. Since then, I've chosen to focus solely on working as a 1st/2nd for at least the next 5-6 years with the hope of joining local 600 and then evaluating where I stand at that point to see if I want to continue with AC work or try my luck at DP'ing again. I do genuinely love the work as a 1st and 2nd. It's a different kind of exhilaration and rush and the days still fly by when I'm on set.
However, I've sort of hit a wall as an AC. I work on a lot of low/no budget stuff. Every now and then I'll get a bone thrown to me when other AC's I know get sick or have a day commitment somewhere else. Getting to work on these higher budget sets is intoxicating and it's so depressing to go back to my typical low/no budget sets after I finish. I can't seem to jump up the ladder into more steady higher budget AC work. It seems that all the DPs/operators already have their preferred 1st/2nd and unless someone dies or gets sick, I'm out of luck. Someone else recommended that I work at a rental house to really learn all the higher end gear and make connections with incoming ACs/DPs/etc.
Would you guys recommend sticking it out and hoping to climb the ladder doing what I am now? Or should I suck it up and take a minimum wage job wrangling cable and logging gear at a rental house to make connections and play with the expensive toys?