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  • Writer's pictureAnnie

The Film Industry is on the Edge of a Strike - Work/Life Balance in Entertainment, Part 1

You may not have heard of I.A.T.S.E (The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada) but if you have ever streamed a show, watched television, been to a play or a movie theatre, you have seen the work of their members.

Now I.A.T.S.E. is hitting the news because of a possible strike that would shut down Hollywood. They are stuck on several points with the most publicized being “Reasonable Rest.” From this Deadline Article:

“Reasonable Rest demands that the Employers not treat our members like machines that can just work until they are broken and then be replaced. Everyone needs and deserves a real and meaningful rest period between shifts to provide for a decent night’s sleep. …No other industry deprives its employees enough time to drive to and from work and get eight hours sleep every work day, week after week, after week.”

• A real and meaningful rest period before leaving and returning to work regardless of the craft or production.

• A weekend rest period that allows for actual rest and time to spend with family and friends.

• Effective penalties that truly discourage the systematic elimination of meal breaks and working straight through into weekends.

It is about time that the entertainment industry comes to this reckoning. The lowest paid, and most worked among us bear the brunt of this burden. I would encourage everyone to check out this Instagram account. Everyone should understand this is the human cost being paid for entertainment. These stories mirror what I hear from so many friends and family and how I used to live myself.

I am grateful I don't have to live like that anymore. A work-life balance is one of the many things I am learning to manage with Label X Media, and an important part of our ethics as a company.

When I first started working with Jay on Label X he sent me a message that really threw me off. I asked him what we needed to get done that day and he told me something like “BF and I both have the morning off, so we are going to sit on the couch and watch some TV then get lunch. After that I will get started on Label X stuff.” If you work in the entertainment industry, especially in Hollywood, you are probably in nearly as much shock as I was about that statement.

I have taken a morning off here or there to have brunch with my partner, or my sister, but I certainly did not have the audacity to tell anyone about it. In entertainment there is a certain culture. A culture that says we are the lucky ones, the ones that get to do what we love for a living and because of that we are required to work ourselves 24/7 with no regard to our own mental or physical health. If we are not willing to do it there is a line of hundreds of other people who want to break into the industry and are willing to do it instead.

I remember a day early in my career. My health insurance did not cover mental health care at anything below crisis level, and I was working on one of the bigger projects of my life up to that point. It was 11pm, I was having a panic attack, and a producer absolutely believed they needed to have a phone conversation with me. I can assure you everything they wanted to tell me could wait till morning, or better yet, an e-mail. In an act of desperation, I pretended my phone was broken, hoping that would afford me the hour I needed that night to pull myself together. After assuring them via email there was no phone available from a roommate or neighbor, that producer drove to my house in the middle of the night to talk to me.

Even as I have moved to levels of the industry where participating in leisure activities is more acceptable (and been able to afford a great therapist), it always needed to be done with the idea that at any time I would drop it all to take the phone call, look at the proof, deal with the issue right now.

I understand that in new media some emergencies can’t wait. Label X Media will always make sure we are there for our clients in those moments. In all the other moments though, the everyday moments, we want to foster a culture for ourselves and our clients where it is ok to take a day off. To prioritize yourself and your family. To turn off the electronics (or turn on the video games) and just do something for yourself without distraction or guilt.


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