The Two-sided Work-life Balance of the Film Crew

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When I’m working on a project, I feel guilty for not having enough time for friends, hobbies, family, housework, and other things.

When I’m not working I feel guilty for wasting time when I would finally have the time for these. But I just want to rest!

Have you ever felt this way?
This is something I just recently got more conscious about, and have to work a lot more to solve this equation, but the following might be a good start.

We filmmakers as freelancers have 2 very distinct life systems.

The time we start each day always changes, we spend at least 10 hours working, plus traveling to new locations all the time, then all the free time we ever wanted is ours for 2 months.

Unlike people who work on a 9–5 job who need to get good at only 1 way of living. They get up and go to work every Mon-Fri morning, and get home sometime between 5– 7 pm. Maybe sometimes taking a couple of days off.

I don’t say it’s easier for them, but it is definitely different. And the problem with advice and resources on how to balance your life, is that they were all written for them.

Wherever you look, people will tell you how to balance your time to have time for doing all of these. You try these, and of course, fail and just get more frustrated.

A new, dual-system thinking

What I start to see is that we actually need not 1 balance in our lives, but 2.

We need to balance the time when we are on a show.
And we need to balance the work-free periods separately.

Seems obvious, but actually it needs a level of consciousness about it.

For work time — Survival mode

We can not achieve as much as we would like. It is a kind of a survival mode.

When we are off-set we just have enough time to sleep (sometimes not even that), shower, and some eating. If we have after these an hour of extra time, we really should spend it with our loved ones at home.
On the weekend we can catch up on some housework.

Yours, of course, might be a bit different, but if you are doing more of one of these you will be doing less of one of the other activities.

And this is the key. We have to realize, it is just survival mode. We won’t have time to remodel the house, write our memoir, spend a lot of time with friends, etc.

So let go of wishing stuff that is just not possible at the time.

But you are making money, and hopefully, you enjoy your work on set with the people you are working with. Focus on this.

For the time between projects — Full-life mode

Finally, you are free.
So you start out by watching all the TV you ever wanted and scrolling through Facebook.

The problem here is, after months of living by being told what to do you are now conditioned to wait for orders. And since the orders are not coming, your life is just passing by meanwhile.

This is actually the hard part. You’ve got to be your own boss. When you are on a work it is much easier, you can hate your boss for mistakes and how he/she treats you. But now you are your own boss. Your success and fulfillment depend only on YOU!
Whooooaaa…. too much responsibility! Right?

So to achieve a balance-like state in this free-time. You’ve got to have a plan for how you will spend this time, and you will have to make yourself follow through.

If you don’t, the guilt will eat you up alive for not spending your time on something worthwhile.

All the time you were working you felt guilty for not being able to do a lot of things. And if you can’t get yourself to do these things in the free time you will feel guilty again. And it’s a lovely downwards spiral by the time you start your next project.

Between projects you have to actively plan and do:
– connecting to get the next work
– spending time with your family and friends
– travel
– upgrade your skills and gear
– do work around the house
– finish overdue things
– do your hobbies
… and many other recreational, fun and necessary stuff you have to do.

When your next project starts. you won’t have time again for doing them.

Master the 2 balances

Feeling guilty continuously for things you can’t do at the moment, is just not healthy. Probably even a some of your illnesses can find great soil for growing in this.

Look for advice on how to balance these 2 lifestyles separately. Aim for 2 separate balances. Don’t try to use one system for both. As a freelancer, it will just cause you a lot of head and heartache.

With my project “Film-Life Lab”, I hope I will be able to help you with both.

Next article Multitasking on a Filmset
Previous article Prioritizing on a film-set

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