The pros and cons of living in a long term Show (and the importance of taking a mental health day – or weekend)

Much like any relationship a show takes work. But what happens when there’s no more work to be done and you’re just kind of.. stagnant? Well surprisingly enough that can take a toll on you mentally too. I didn’t learn that until this recent show I started to work on.

Originally I was brought on as a day player to help do an airport pick up. What was supposed to be a day playing job turned into a month long engagement. Which, don’t get me wrong is great, because that meant that I didn’t have to look for work because before I hopped on to this one I was struggling to find my next show (as what most freelancers do). So yeah, I was pretty happy about the situation.

But then as the days went by, the tasks that needed to be done started to dwindle. Mind you I was brought on for the wrap portion of the show. So that mainly consisted of returning equipment that needed to be returned, cleaning what needed to be cleaned, and storing what needed to be stored. Easy enough right? Unfortunately for me and my fellow PA, we were raised in a fast paced environment where efficiency is key. Which pretty much meant that we finished what needed to be finished two weeks into our residency with this show, and all we had to do was wait for out next move. Unfortunately for us, our next move didn’t come until another week later.

So here we were stuck. We made sure we came in, looked at everything, then went to our devices. Which hurts as a PA, because I always feel bad for checking on my phone if I got an email or a text – because it could mean another job opportunity. But most of the time there was nothing. We just stayed stagnant.

This week however, I was tapped for a feature for next month – and I know what you’re thinking — if you’re complaining about staying stagnant because you’ve been on a show for a whole month what makes you think you won’t feel the same way with this feature

And my answer to that is this… I won’t be working just wrap. I get to work both production and wrap. Which means being on set in a fast paced environment. Which means constantly having tasks. Which means not being stagnant.

Okay enough with my ranting about staying stagnant…

So in the title I mentioned the importance of taking a mental health day – or weekend – and here’s why. About three weeks ago, back when I had first started this show, I was working long-ish hours just because I was constantly lifting, moving and inventorying a lot of items and every time I came home I was just absolutely exhausted. Almost to the point that I would just pass out on the couch then wake up to go to bed. That exhausted.

So going into my first full week of working here I had gotten a call from a coordinator friend of mine asking if I had wanted to work over the weekend for a short shoot. And because I had been struggling for work for a while, I said yes. Little did I know that it was going to almost push me over the edge. I worked over time both those days and had work the following week. I had no weekend to catch up on sleep and I was basically over working myself. The following weekend I was flying out to the other side of the country to visit my best friend. So I was able to get a bit of a mental break. I went in to work that next week still overly exhausted, luckily my fellow PA and I worked so efficiently at the beginning of our time here that we practically worked ourselves out of tasks to do. So it wasn’t that mentally straining.

It wasn’t until this past weekend was I really able to have a mental health weekend to myself. I slept in and for once in almost three weeks straight did not wake up to an alarm. I took my time with almost everything last weekend. I was able to do what needed to be done, run errands at my own pace. It was actually quite glorious. I made it a point that I was only going to take care of my needs this weekend.

Getting back to my point,

it’s important to rest and to give yourself a break.

You can’t do your best unless you’re at your best right? I understand how easy it is to get yourself caught up in the freelance film world and overbooking because you want to just keep on working. Trust me, I do. I’ve been doing this for about two years now. But it’s also important to take care of yourself, both mentally and physically. You want to get hired for more work right? So you have to stay on top of your game. Take a breather and say no to a job once in a while. You deserve the rest.

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