Look at this photo on me on set. I don’t look happy. It was December at the time. I’m pretty sure it was the last day before the holiday break/hiatus. I’m inside at the stage. Im sitting down! You would think that this would be heaven sent.
But look at my face! I don’t look happy. Well that’s because we just did 8 hours outside in like 15 degree weather. We had a whole other half of a day to go. I’m still coming down from my shitty outside situation. Also, they sent all the additional people home and I didn’t pick the winning ticket in the hat to go home. It was a realllllllly long day. It felt like it never ended. But if you are new to the Film/TV life I’m here to tell you that that’s not uncommon.
The amount of hours we do, and the amount of stress we put ourselves through, we have to find way to make sure we stay sane. Keep our sense of humor. Ya know, keep up the good attitude at hour 18 when we still have one more set-up to go till we wrap. It’s hard!
What helps you stay in the right mind?
1 – Sleep!
The number 1 thing: grab sleep when possible. Don’t mess around with your sleep! If you have a half hour van ride to location – NAP! Once you get home from a long day – don’t fuck around at home, and do nonsense stuff, hit that bed straight away! Find it when you can. I know there are shows where you can average, AVERAGE! 3 hours a night.
Annnnnnnnd make sure on your days off you get a decent amount. Try not to party. Get some rest.
2 – Food/Water
Now, I know that you know there’s tons of different food on set, but you can’t get crazy with junk food. Which is totally challenging when crafty is in your face 24/7. Too much sugar is just a horrible way to crash and burn. Not enough water will make you very unhappy. Not enough food can make you cranky, but too much can make you sleepy. You have to find the balance. Ya know, just be smart about it. You can get fat, no joke. Sometimes I feel like they feed us too much on set. But I’m also grateful it’s there.
3 – People
I know people can either make or break your day the second you step on set. You have to talk to people. Get to know your peers. Making films is not for everyone. It is very challenging on the mind and body. You will go through a struggle. When you can relate to another person within that struggle you both are sharing it makes it this “We have to get through this together” mentality. Also you can joke about the ridiculous amount of camera angles for this two person dinner scene you’re currently shooting. You laugh together it makes you feel a tiny bit better. Make friends people.
4 – Humor
The last one ties into this one. Because most of the time you need others to express your sense of humor. Not always though. You have to look at something ridiculous and find the humor in it, rather then just getting angry like I do. I have a horrible temper. My default is just anger. lol I contain it, and usually being around people switches that anger into just laughing it off. It’s good to laugh on set when everyone is sooooo damn serious.
5 – Hobbies
I feel like this is almost impossible when you’re in full swing of a TV season, or a long feature film. You HAVE to do other things outside of your #setlife. lol (Yep I used the hashtag hahaha!) But really though, you must do other things outside of that work life. Whether it’s running, working out, reading, walking dogs, maybe it’s cooking, I don’t know, but do something. I wont say watch TV and Films because it’s hard when you work in the industry to watch things and not think about how they made that shot. Or saying to yourself “Oh yeah, I worked with that actor, he’s an asshole.” I can pick apart anything production wise when I watch something. So, no, Netflix CANNOT be that other thing.
6 – DON’T TAKE THINGS PERSONAL
I saved the best for last. You really can’t take things personal. you can’t. It will eat you alive. People are under stress, they’re tired, extremely cold/or hot, they’re also on a time crunch. Combine all of that together you wont get a Mary Poppins type of attitude or response. It’s just not gonna happen. Don’t hold a grudge against anyone that might have been rude to you, short with you, or might have said something to you not so kosher. (obviously any physical/sexual altercation better be reported) Let stupid shit just roll off your back. What I try and do is think about who is coming down on them if they are so stressed and yelling at me. Unless I really fucked up, then that’s my fault. I suck that shit up real fast, and apologize. Then move on with my day. Best advice I ever got.
I think those are the 6 things that are vital to keep you on the straight and narrow. (I love that phrase!) I have a friend that really sees this life in such a negative way, but she keeps talking work. She tells me to get into the commercial world where there are shorter days and the skies are blue, and everyone treats you like a queen. My response to her was – Not every day on set can be easy. I think I need a certain amount of struggle in my life. I hate when I have a work day and it just felt too easy. I don’t know, it just doesn’t feel right. If I want to be a union 1st AD – I’m not gonna get there doing easy days on commercials. (Well, maybe I could – But I’d end up doing commercials all my life – Fuck that!)
I like being on set. Masochist maybe? Possibly. I guess when I make big bucks I’ll get a therapist or psychiatrist to dissect that for me. I like how every day is different, the highs and lows it gives me. It gives me the right amount of struggle and challenge to appreciate where I am in my life, and when I get home to rest. I appreciate when I’m not working.
Keep chasing those dreams folks! Stay sane on set.