5 Absolutely Awful Things About Working in Film Production

5 Absolutely Awful Things About Working in Film Production
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Film production is an interesting, creative business.  It can also be a brutal and incredibly stressful way to earn a living.  I’ve enjoyed my long career in the film industry, but I have to admit there are things I hate about the business of film production.  The highs are very high and the lows are very low, and those lows can be a real bummer.  You don’t necessarily have to work in the film industry to relate to some of the lows.

Here’s my list of 5 Absolutely Awful Things About Working in Film Production:

  1. The long hours.

I knew the film industry had some long working hours when I got into it.  But some of the work days were truly insane.  I’ve had several 24 hour days, some 18 hour days and more 16 hour days than I can count.  Working conditions automatically become unsafe after so many hours of working non-stop.  In one of the online industry social media groups, someone recently asked if anyone else had experienced dangerously long work hours on set.  There was a flood of responses, including numerous people reporting that they’d totaled their cars while driving home after working long hours.  Needless to say, working this many hours is not safe.  In a high profile incident years ago, a crew member was killed when he fell asleep at the wheel driving home after an 18 hour workday.  The ridiculously long hours are truly the worst aspect of working on set.

  1. Sleep deprivation.

We all have sleepless nights occasionally.  It’s not the same as experiencing long-term sleep deprivation.  Those of us who work in film production are perpetually sleep deprived.  It takes a toll on our health and impacts every area of our lives.  Sleep deprived people aren’t in the sharpest mental state.  I learned to function in a state of sleep deprivation, but it’s not a healthy or satisfying lifestyle.  It’s impossible to ever catch up on lost sleep.

  1. Unsavory locations.

Location shooting, including local locations, is a major part of film production.  Locations may be limited during the pandemic, but filming on location isn’t going away.  Some locations are more pleasant working environments than others.  Shooting nights in a filthy alley or dangerous neighborhood is not particularly enjoyable.  Especially when it’s a recurring location.  I prefer locations like the Malibu beach house that was the main location for a TV series I worked on.  That was an incredible place to go to work every day.  You’ve heard the saying, “Location, location, location.”

  1. Irregular meal times.

It’s hard to adjust to changing schedules and going from day work to night work.  Our sleep is affected and so are our meal times.  Regular meal times are often not the norm in the film industry.  ‘Lunch’ can end up being at 9 pm.  It’s one more way the industry plays havoc with our health.  The crazy meal times can be very challenging.  The temptation of the snack food at the craft service table is hard to resist when you’re hungry and it’s still hours before lunch.  Graze wisely.

  1. Jobs ending abruptly.

Freelancing can be a terrific lifestyle.  No two days are ever the same.  You get to work with a wide variety of people on all kinds of projects.  You can take time off when a job ends and go travelling.  But unfortunately, jobs can end abruptly when shows get cancelled.  Your finances can really take a hit when that happens.  It’s not fun when the show you hoped to be on for a full season ends at the half way point.  It’s a feast or famine business, so managing your finances well is essential.

So those are my gripes about working in film production.  Actually, those gripes are few compared to the many great things about working in the business.  Anyone just getting into the business should know what to expect, though.  If you can’t handle the long hours, sleep deprivation and uncertainty, you’ll be a lot happier doing something else.

Here are a few related books to help you stay healthy, well-rested and stress-free.

Disclaimer: The links below are affiliate links, which means that at no additional cost to you, I make a small amount of money from any sales. This helps cover the expenses of running this blog.

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker PhD

Link to this book is HERE.

The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook (A New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook) by Martha Davis PhD, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman MSW, Matthew McKay PhD

This book is in its 7th edition and has sold more than 1 million copies worldwide.

Link to this book is HERE.

Bath and Body Works 3-wick Limited Edition Aromatherapy Candle (Eucalyptus and Spearmint)

This scent is believed to reduce stress and promote relaxation.

Link to this candle is HERE.




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