Work-Life balance for filmmakersJun 21, 2023
When writing this week’s blog on work-life balance, the irony was not lost on me. Today is Sunday and I’ve spent the day ferrying my children from sporting events on one side of town to the other, arranging everything they might need for the week because I’m going to be away. I’ve packed all their gear for sports training, excursions, life and more so the grandparents can look after them with the minimum of fuss.
We also snuck in a bit of lunch to celebrate Mother's day, I packed for myself and Mike mercifully packed all the camera gear we’ll need for the shoot this week. And now I’m on a flight to New Zealand where we’re rolling camera on a new project.
And I’m writing this from 30 thousand feet after a couple of pinot noirs…apologies for typos!
So what is work-life balance anyway???
Is it when all the parts of your life are equally in balance and you feel so good that you might die never having to wonder what it’s like to feel overwhelmed, stretched for time, stressed or just straight-up exhausted?
Ok, that’s the tired, end of a long, hectic day, cynic in me talking.
Maybe work-life balance is when you have time to casually roll into your day, taking on all its demands and ending it feeling ready to do it all again.
Maybe unicorns do fart rainbows and this is something worth striving for? (The perfect day I mean, not the unicorn rainbow farts...)
But if you think that work-life balance is something you should be striving for then read on, because it is something I know a thing or two about.
What does balance mean?
According to the Oxford Dictionary balance means an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.
I usually find when it comes to the whole work/ life balance conversation it tends to bring up more questions than answers.
For starters, when it comes to filmmaking when is your work and your life evenly separated by a nice little hyphen? Work / Life.
And when did we start needing to separate the two? Isn’t work part of life?
4 questions to help you with this
Let’s just think about this whole concept for a minute because when it comes to filmmaking and work and life, the point is, you have to make your filmmaking work for you. And that means adjusting your life to make sure there is
- Time for your filmmaking
- Enjoyment in your filmmaking
- A sustainable career in your filmmaking
- Time for your friends and family outside of your filmmaking.
That’s it. 4 things you need to achieve to have it all as a filmmaker!
Sound simple doesn’t it, yes? Or No?
So what do I mean by making your filmmaking work for your lifestyle?
Examples of filmmaking working for your lifestyle
At the start of your career, you might need to work 9-5 for someone else while you make your films in your own time. Before work, after work and on the weekends or holidays. Then as you begin to get a name for yourself and find some finance you might start taking more time to work on your films and need less time working other jobs to make money. Slowly you transition into a full-time filmmaking career.
Throughout this, you still have your social life but you are more focused on your career at this point than hanging out at brunch, playing video games or other pass times so your catch-ups with your mates might be less frequent in the early stage, but you can pay your bills and make your films. Once you’re a full-time filmmaker you’ll be able to put more time in socially. That’s a version of work-life balance, isn’t it?
Or another example might be that you work in film, on other people's films, honing your craft, getting experience and developing a name for yourself and building your career as a freelancer and then growing your career in that way. Your filmmaking is a full-time job and you have your weekends for friends and family. That’s work-life balance, isn’t it?
And these are not the only two options or pathways, just examples. My point is that there is no right way to balance how you spend your time and energy. You should pursue the career that interests you and find a way to make it work with your lifestyle.
There are no rules to how you go about balancing your work and life, it’s what works for you.
What I have learned is that there will be crazy patches like the one I’m in at the moment. But when it settles in a few weeks, I’ll slow it down, take a break and reset for the next round.
That’s my version of work-life balance for filmmaking. I also shared a lot more detail on this in the podcast. And Mike and I chewed the fat on the Youtube episode so make sure you check them out as well.
When it comes down to it, if you want to make a film, and you want filmmaking to be your career. You’ll find a way. The beauty of this industry is that there are so many ways to go about it. You’ll find yours.
Let me know how you juggle it. We can all learn from each other on this so please share. Your strategy could be enormously useful to another filmmaker.
Till next week, happy filmmaking!
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