Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

The Marathon Mentality

There’s a particular mindset held by endurance athletes, to help them get through long races.

Don’t think about the entire event at once, just concentrate on the next few steps, the next mile, the next whatever – this helps to keep the athlete from getting demoralized and overwhelmed by whatever it is they’re about to do.

One approaches shoots the same way, especially when said job is obviously going to be a complete peel. Don’t think about being here for 14 (or more) hours. Just think about the next set up, the next turnaround, the next little bit or you’ll never escape the pit of despair at the concept of such a long day followed by another long day followed by, you guessed it, another long day.

That was the rhythm of life. A few steps and then a few more steps and then a few more steps, and then we’re done for the day. See you tomorrow.

But then, COVID happened, everything shut down, and everyone was off work.

People got to see their families. People got to enjoy the homes that they worked so hard to afford. People had a life.

Personally, the shutdown was the first time in my adult life that I have ever been on a consistent sleep schedule. It was amazing. I’d forgotten that you’re not supposed to be fighting fatigue all day. I’d forgotten how it felt to be rested.

When we came back to work, there was an informal agreement that the production companies would keep the hours down, as being worn out can make one more vulnerable to illness, which seemed to be a bad idea in a pandemic.

And at first, the hours were a little shorter, but not for very long. Soon, we were back to the same old grind, with short turnarounds, and now COVID testing. Swabbing an entire crew takes time, so of course the hours got longer so we could still get the work done.

You understand, right? It’s just a few more hours.

The first AD on this show announced, during the safety meeting today, that “we’re going to be working really really long days, so don’t be afraid to ask for a hotel.”

In that moment, the entire crew was completely demoralized. You could see people’s hopes just sort of collapse.

Because now we’re thinking about the whole marathon, not just the next few steps.

Filed under: hazardous, long long drives, studio lots, Work

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