Tips for Achieving Better On-set Well-being

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

Filmmaking is more than just a job, it’s a passion. You get into the industry not just to make a living and put food on the table and a roof over your head. You get into filmmaking because you want to earn your keep doing something you love and impact the lives of those around you.

That doesn’t mean, though, that a career in the film industry doesn’t have its downsides. No matter what your particular role in the production or postproduction process, telling stories through film can draw heavily on physical, mental, emotional, and intellectual reserves.

This means that the job can also take a profound toll on your mind, body, and spirit. However, if you want to cultivate a long, successful, and happy career, it’s imperative that you prioritize your own health and happiness. This article gives you the most effective tips to enhance your physical and mental well-being while on set.

Meditation and Mindfulness

Filmmaking is rewarding but demanding work. Remote locations and grueling hours can leave you feeling physically and emotionally depleted. This is why it is critical to integrate self-care practices into every work day, prioritizing mental health in the film industry for you and those on set helping you.

Among the most effective and accessible of these is the use of meditation and mindfulness practices to help you and your crew decompress, quiet your spirit, and rest your body and mind. Best of all, all you need to do is find a quiet spot to be still and silent for even a few minutes. You can even schedule meditation sessions for each filming day so that everyone can participate.

On-set Therapists

No matter how much you may love your job, the undeniable fact is that filmmaking can be incredibly stressful. You are often working on tight budgets and even tighter schedules. You’re also collaborating with a large number of individuals who may or may not share your creative vision or project priorities. 

Not only this, but every project carries with it tremendous risk. Large sums of money are often at stake, and if you don’t give your investors a solid return on their investment, the chances are good you will struggle to fund future projects.

Most significant of all, though, is the risk to your professional reputation should the project not succeed. And, in a notoriously unforgiving industry, one mark against your professional reputation can undermine and even end your career.

It’s little wonder, then, that people can find themselves struggling under the tremendous pressure to succeed. That can lead not only to severe depression and anxiety in individual crew members but also to harmful conflict between colleagues.

This is why the well-being of production teams often depends on the availability of highly qualified on-set mental healthcare providers prepared to offer a range of therapeutic approaches to meet the ever-evolving needs of the crew. This might include, for instance, the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help individuals learn to recognize and reframe destructive thought and behavior patterns or the deployment of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) to reduce on-set interpersonal conflict and facilitate healthy professional relationship building.

Preventing Burnout in the Age of Tech Innovation

Perhaps the greatest threat to filmmakers’ on-set well-being today is the breakneck pace with which filmmaking technologies are advancing. A particularly significant example of this is the rapid ascendancy of virtual reality (VR) in the film industry.

As audience demand for this immersive media grows, filmmakers can find themselves struggling to keep pace with the innovations. This requires production crews not only to devise new strategies for telling stories in new ways, and, in the process, cultivate often highly sophisticated technological skills.

The modern filmmaker, in other words, must not only contend with the ordinary but arduous demands of traditional film production, but they must also somehow find the time, energy, and resources to master revolutionary new media technology and narrative forms. VR and augmented reality (AR) filmmaking technologies, for instance, enable filmmakers to create immersive worlds and provide full-body sensory experiences for audiences. In other words, AR is changing the lives of audiences as they consume media, and it has also greatly increased audiences’ expectations for the media they consume. 

This amplifies the pressure that film crews face to provide an engaging and unforgettable experience for viewers. The intensity and relentlessness of the pressure film crews are under, particularly in the wake of the new technology, can quickly give rise to burnout if proactive on-set measures are not taken.  When you’re on set, though, and the budget is dwindling and the deadlines are looming, you might not always be able to take the “mental health days” needed to prevent burnout.

There are, however, a number of small things you can do each day to manage your stress and reignite your creativity. For instance, if you are facing pressure to master the new filmmaking technologies, dedicating even half an hour each day to viewing an online course on these tools can help reassure you that you are, indeed, keeping pace with the new innovations. Similarly, if you’re just feeling exhausted and uninspired, binge-watching the films that first ignited your passion for the craft can be an ideal way to keep you energized, inspired, and engaged during even the most laborious of projects.

It’s also critical that you take care of your physical health to prevent burnout. Watch what you eat. Give your body the nutrients it needs to perform. Stay hydrated. Above all, try to maintain a consistent, healthy sleep schedule to the greatest extent possible.

The Takeaway

In many ways, filmmaking is a dream career, but that doesn’t mean that life on set is always easy. Indeed, a career in the film industry is often highly stressful, intensely demanding, and woefully uncertain at times. This is why it is imperative to prioritize your physical, mental, and emotional well-being on set if you want to enjoy a long and fulfilling career. 

This includes taking advantage of on-site mental healthcare resources to address harmful thought and behavior patterns and support healthy and productive relationships with your colleagues — learning to practice meditation and mindfulness to help calm your mind and rest your body and being proactive in preventing burnout through hydration, nutrition, and quality sleep.

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About the Author

Jori Hamilton
Jori Hamilton
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to video production, content creation, and marketing strategies. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter: @HamiltonJori

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