May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so on this Producing Unscripted podcast episode we‘re discussing some of the more difficult aspects of working in the entertainment industry…especially on big productions. Anybody who‘s been around it for more than five minutes knows showbiz is an incredibly tough trade to compete in. Pressure is high, and the stakes are, too. Through pop culture we do occasionally hear about the stresses of life in front of the camera. But it’s rare we hear about how those behind the camera stay mentally healthy. In a departure from our usual episodes, we wanted to bring some of these topics to light and share how we do our best to remain happy and healthy during the most stressful of times. We hope these tips help you, or that you‘re inspired to find your own techniques for achieving stability. All that matters is that you find your way to handle the pressures of this industry.
Warning: We Aren’t Mental Health Experts
Before we dive in, let’s remind everyone that we are not licensed health professionals. We urge anybody struggling with their mental health to take action.
You can find some guidance here.
The methods we‘ve used to get through the tough times may not help you. Everyone is different. That being said, we have worked in this industry in some form or another for 20 years. So on today’s podcast episode we‘re opening up about how we‘ve managed the ups and downs. We hope there are a few nuggets here you find helpful.
Talk With Someone
One of the most important parts of any production is communication. That‘s how you make sure you’re on the same page as your team members, work through difficult production problems, and deal with the physical exhaustion that comes with making a film or TV show.
But more than just discussing the logistics and fatigue that are part and parcel to this job, you also have to communicate your emotions when appropriate and needed.
That’s not always easy to do, and it’s not always easy to know who you should talk to.
The Right Person at the Right Time
One difficulty we’ve run into over the years is that once you get exhausted, stressed out, and overworked, it’s hard to tell a real problem from what’s simply a side effect of the rigors of production.
So it’s good to have someone to vent to who you trust before deciding if something needs to be dealt with further.
The two of us are very lucky to have each other in that role. A lot of times we’ll have a venting session, and when we‘re done, we realize we’re just dealing with the stress of it all, and not facing any real issues.
But sometimes, those venting sessions reveal a bigger problem. Then you need to communicate that to the right people, whether a co-worker, supervisor, or other executive.
As the “bosses” and owners of our company Joke Productions, we do our best to maintain a healthy and safe work environment. If anyone is having an issue that requires more than venting, we want them to feel comfortable enough to speak up.
And that’s not just us. You’ll find most companies in the industry welcome your concerns.
It’s always better to talk to someone than to let yourself crash and burn…even if the problem is not immediately fixable.
A Team Effort
In production, staying mentally healthy has to be a team effort. Try to surround yourself with the right people when you can (we know it’s not always possible).
When you need to take a step back and take care of yourself, ask for the help you need from your friends and co-workers. Trust that your peers will be there to help you.
It’s Just TV
Yes, the entertainment industry is stressful. But all too often we forget that, at the proverbial end of the day, it’s just television. Working in the industry can be as amazing as it is frustrating. The work we all do is important, but it is never more important than our health and our lives.
When the pressure is high and stress strikes, we always tell ourselves:
- Take a deep breath
- Choose who to talk to when
- Ask for help
- More than likely, everything will be okay!
It’s just TV, after all.
Helpful and Related Links
A great story about the lead singer of Imagine Dragons, Dan Reynolds. He shares his own journey with depression, and is an active proponent of Mental Health Awareness.
Practical tips on preparing for…and surviving…production: 7 Weird Tips to Help You Avoid Burnout.
For a detailed blow-by-blow of some of the stresses we faced when building our company, check out the Joke Productions Real Screen Story for some honest commentary and funny anecdotes.
Let’s Make some TV Together
Looking to become a TV producer, or already a professional? Thinking about pitching to us and our company Joke Productions?
Here’s what you need to know:
Read our in-depth page about how to pitch us a show. It also talks about what it’s really like to work in our business, the unscripted TV and film industry.