Taking Care of Yourself on Set

Image from the Vancouver Film School:

A standard day of 12hrs + on a production can be gruelling and it’s not uncommon to jump back and forth between overnights and getting up at the crack of dawn in a single week.  Burning out is not an option when there are 4 weeks of shooting left, so here are a few tips for taking care of number one on set.

Delegate.  Not everything needs to be your job (unless you’re a PA)

Being higher up on the food chain as a producer, production manager (PM) or head of department can feel like everything is your job and needs an answer directly from you.  But try to remember that your team can handle most of the small stuff.  Hopefully you picked them and trust them – so you don’t have to be there for every decision.  It can be freeing to say “This has to be done today, but you figure it out.”  Plus it’s an infusion of self-confidence for your team that you trust them not to screw up.

Eat! The craft table exists for a reason.

Emma Stone sees food arriving.

This sounds so basic but when you’re caught up in the rush of production it’s one of the first things to be forgotten.  You can’t be 100% on an empty stomach, so get your snack on!  This is where pockets come in very handy. Just make sure you’re not just filling up on junk – craft tables can be full of more candy than a kid’s Halloween bag.  Healthy snacks mean more energy for kicking ass.   And if you’re too important to pop over yourself, remember that’s what PAs and underlings are for.

Unwind. Have a strong support system off set.

It’s so necessary to have a family and friends who “get” what you do, even if they don’t actually get your day to day.  When you want company and to blow off steam after a long day (hello happy hour!) or just to be left alone it’s important to surround yourself with people who respect that. And don’t waste your time with anyone who won’t understand why you might need to hibernate for a week after a show.

Laugh.  This is supposed to be fun!

Modern Family Cam and Gloria having fun

With the unrelenting long hours and stress of shooting it can be easy to forget why you got into this business in the first place.   Taking the time to have a good time can help you remember how amazing working in film and TV is.  Some of the most fun people you’ll ever meet will be on your set so don’t underestimate the benefit of a Ping-Pong tournament or a well-executed prank.

Breathe.  It’s not the end of the world.

Emma Watson trying to relax

This is not a popular opinion in film & TV land, but as much as it seems like it sometimes, what we do is not life and death.  No one is holding a beating heart in their hands – at least not on most sets.  It’s easy to get so caught up in the urgency of the shoot and the schedule and forget that when the film is done, no one is going to remember that the picture car wouldn’t start or that it rained for a week straight while you were shooting exteriors.


How else do you keep yourself sane while shooting?

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