5 Sure-Fire Ways to Survive Film Production Jobs

5 Sure-Fire Ways to Survive Film Production Jobs
Design by Judy Moore in Canva
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The downside of film production jobs has been in the news and on social media a lot lately.  It’s the impetus behind the upcoming IATSE strike authorization vote.  And it’s not only the film crews working on set.  Editors and those working off production jobs in the industry have also had enough of the grueling hours and often poor work conditions.

Social media has provided an easy way for crew members to share their stories anonymously, and they’re not holding back.  The pandemic has not made for shorter hours on set.  If anything, the length of already long workdays has increased.

In this high-pressure work environment, we all need to find ways to survive film production jobs and hopefully have a life outside of work.

Here are five things I’ve done in my career over the years and have found helpful for surviving film production jobs:

  1. Build a support system.

We all need an understanding support system outside of work.  It’s our lifeline.  I was single when I started working in the industry and made an effort to cultivate friendships both within and outside of the industry.

Those friendships saved my sanity while I was working on some challenging jobs.  Talking to friends for a few minutes every week doesn’t seem like much, but I found it to be grounding, and it lifted my spirits when I was feeling overwhelmed.

Even though we work with dozens of people every day, it’s easy to feel disconnected and alone.  Staying connected to friends and family who care about us is a crucial support system we all need.

  1. Take care of your physical and mental health.

There’s no substitute for self-care.  We postpone it at our peril.

The industry often beats us up physically and emotionally.  If you don’t believe me, check out the posts on the Instagram site @ia_stories.  Some of the stories told anonymously there are shocking.  Crews feel exploited and burnt out.

We have to find ways to counter the industry's toll on our physical and mental health.

There’s real power in a de-stressing walk in nature or a fifteen-minute meditation.

Our bodies also need sleep, and no one gets enough of it working film production jobs.  I used to nap for a few minutes at lunch in unused dressing rooms.  That’s not a deep sleep, though, and didn’t make up for the sleep deprivation we all suffer in our industry.

We simply can’t work in a state of sleep deprivation for months on end without it taking a toll on our minds and bodies.  The lack of adequate rest periods is a sticking point in the current IATSE negotiations.

Producers often go home much earlier than the film crews and have no idea what it’s like to work grueling hours on set.  Now they’re finding out from their film crews, even though many don’t want to hear about it.

  1. Exercise and practice yoga.

What’s that you say?  You’re on your feet all day, isn’t that exercise?  Well, our work burns some calories, but it’s not the same as an actual de-stressing, endorphin-releasing workout.  And it certainly doesn’t have the benefits of yoga.

Improving our cardiovascular strength reduces anxiety and has been shown to increase our emotional stability.  With the variety of home exercise equipment now available, we can all find a few minutes for healthy movement.

Our lives depend on it.

  1. Choose your jobs wisely.

All jobs are not created equal.  Some film production jobs are better than others.  A lot better.

Once you’ve been working in the business for a year or so, it’s time to orient yourself towards where in the industry you want to be.  We need a career strategy to have the kinds of careers we want instead of just a series of jobs.

There are many areas of the industry in which to work.  Streaming has opened up new opportunities.

It’s worth thinking about what type of shows you want to work on and the people you want to work with to have a fulfilling career.  Start making those contacts now, and you’ll be surprised how soon those jobs can come your way.

Doors open and close very quickly in our business.  Be ready to receive when one opens.

  1. Develop multiple revenue streams.

Yes, I’ve written about this before, but only because it’s incredibly beneficial in a business full of uncertainty.  Since I got into the industry, I’ve had side businesses, including a shave ice stand, selling personal security equipment and jewelry, and now freelance writing.

Having additional revenue streams gives us the freedom to pick and choose our jobs.  It also means we’ll be less financially strapped if there’s a strike or work slows down.

With the internet, there’s an endless variety of opportunities available to make money online.  I’m taking advantage of that right now, and I encourage everyone to do the same.

If IATSE ends up going on strike, we’ll all be glad we did.


There are many film production jobs at the moment, but the work conditions and long hours are often brutal.  Many of us endured it for decades, but it’s heartening to see that some of the issues in our industry have reached critical mass, and crew members are demanding change.

The pandemic is just one of many things we’ve all had to deal with recently.  Film workers aren’t willing to go back to the business-as-usual of excessively long workdays and unsafe sets.

On top of that, producers even proposed more than doubling the hours required to qualify for IATSE pension benefits.

Film crews once talked about these issues in whispers.  Now they’re being talked about all over social media and have widespread support from other guilds and many high-profile actors.

Hopefully, whatever resolution IATSE and the producers reach will make surviving film production jobs easier.  Until then, we have to make the best decisions we can for our mental and physical health, safety, and sanity.

We all deserve to work in a business that doesn’t wholly consume our lives.






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