A Monday Prescription…On a Tuesday (and do filmmakers have bank holidays?)

Hi Film Folk!

Film Doctor - Work Hard, Play Smart

Morning fellow filmmakers. The Film Doctor Team is back to kick start your week (ignore the rain!) with some ‘Monday Prescriptions’ – albeit on a Tuesday.

Did you have a good, relaxing Easter break? Or do you find that the notion of ‘bank holiday’ doesn’t apply to filmmakers? The Film Doctor Team certainly find the maxim “work is life, life is work” increasingly accurate. So do filmmakers have ‘time off’?


Sure, now and then everyone takes time off – we all need a break – but if you are serious about making films – writing, directing or producing them – it needs to become your job in the fullest sense. You start on Monday and finish… well, sometimes it overspills. It’s Saturday but on Monday you’ve got a meeting with an Exec and your film treatment is not done yet? Well, then Saturday is also an 8-hour work day. It’s Sunday but on Monday you’re shipping packages to festivals and your trailer isn’t finished yet? Well, then Sunday is also an 8-hour work day.

Often, in the early stages of your career, making films has to become a second job. This second job is demanding and requires as much effort and time dedication as any other occupation you might currently hold. Which means your don’t do an average 40-hour-long work week – you double it up. Often, at the expense of what was otherwise know as ‘the weekend’. In addition, this second job has a different pattern to your other one – it involves different stages, from conceiving a script to shooting and promoting the finished work, which might not always fit the 9-to-5 schedule. So you do your ‘film job’ outside the ‘normal working hours’ (because, of course, you need to finish your 9-to-5 part first).


So film industry professionals definitely adhere to the “work hard” ethic. What about the “play smart” part of the motto?

Filmmaking is a full-on business venture For those film industry professionals who view themselves as entrepreneurs, the ‘play hard part is not really an option. Firstly, because in this case ‘work IS play’ and vice versa.  Secondly, because they can’t afford to take time off – building a business is like raising a child. You never really fully switch off. When you are that kind of filmmaker, who acts almost like a CEO to the project, trying to oversee everything and get it off the ground, ‘playing hard’ doesn’t come into it.

If you have any ambition of shaping your career yourself and taking it as far as possible ‘playing hard’ should be…playing smart. “Work hard, play hard” suggests creating a firm distinction between the job and the ‘downtime’, whereas in the film industry ‘work’ and ‘play’ come hand in hand. For the cream of the crop, at least 80% of downtime is spent networking – attending festivals, talks, screenings – which is as much ‘work‘ as it is ‘play‘ (after all, having drinks and discussing films is fun).

So, The Film Doctor Team suggests “work hard, play smart” as a more adequate motto. The ‘play smart’ means finding ways to relax but developing your project at the same time; not cutting out the fun from the work or the work from fun (play, but productive). It means recharging your mental/physical resources rather than overloading them; replenishing your ‘creative well’ with new energy, ideas, inspirations (read a good tips book or take a walk in the park). It means using the 24 hours in a day. Not just letting them happen to you. It means party…but party when you’ve achieved milestones.

‘Monday Prescription’ No.13  – Work hard, play smart. And enjoy the journey along the way.

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Any questions/thoughts/experiences of your own??? Leave a comment below!
Have a great week!
The Film Doctor Team
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