Is Work-Life Balance Scarce Working in the Film Industry?

Is Work-Life Balance Scarce Working in the Film Industry
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We hear a lot about work-life balance these days, even more so since the pandemic.  Many people don’t want to return to the office after working from home for more than a year.  Most of us who work in the film industry never had that option.

Working on set usually means that you have no life outside of work when you’re on the job.  However, all areas of the industry are not the same.  Big feature films and single-camera episodic TV shows, in particular, are known for having brutally long hours.  But there are a few other areas of the business to consider if you want a more well-balanced life.

Here are three other areas of the industry to explore:

  1. Talk shows.

Pre-pandemic, most talk shows were filmed before a live audience.  That may have changed, but the hours worked still tend to be less than on features or episodic television.

My husband, an industry veteran, spent the last six years before his recent retirement working on a talk show.  It was a terrific gig for anyone who wants a life outside of work.

Overtime was rare, but crew members got to see their families and have a life.  Start making contacts in this area of the industry if this sounds like a good fit.

Talk shows may not have the excitement that exists in other areas of the industry, but the prospect of work-life balance may more than make up for that.

  1. Game shows.

These stage shows have been around since the earliest days of television and probably aren’t going anywhere.  Some, like Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, and Family Feud, have been on the air for decades.

I appeared on a game show as a contestant many years ago.  Then, as now, game shows are fun for both participants and viewers.  That's why they're still on the air.

We’ve all played game shows at home on our couches.  Well, people actually work on those shows, too.  And from what I hear, you’ll also find some work-life balance in this genre.

As some of these shows last for the length of a career, you may end up working on one for quite a long time.

Just ask Vanna White.

  1. Sitcoms.

Sitcoms used to be known for their short hours and three weeks on, one week off schedules.  That may not be the case anymore, as many of the shows have ventured into more logistically challenging territory, and the hours have gotten longer.

Still, sitcoms beat out features and episodic television for having a decent work-life balance.  I worked on sitcoms for years.  It wasn’t always easy work, but I did manage to have a life.

I even went to the gym after work when I worked on a sitcom.  Try doing that while working on a feature film.  It won’t happen.


When I was a trainee, a production manager who was giving a seminar told us trainees to accept any job we were offered the first year out of the training program.  After that, we should be making contacts and positioning ourselves to be in the area of the industry we wanted to work in.

It took me years to do that.  Today, I’d be doing that from day one and striving for work-life balance.

If you want a career in the film industry but also want a life, start exploring the three areas above.  After all, you can always make more money, but you can’t make more time.



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