Pre-production Stress and Five Unorthodox Strategies to Deal with It

Photo © ZPeckler on Flickr
Photo © ZPeckler on Flickr

This weekend I have a shoot for a film which could be one of the most important I’ve made. It’s for a worthy cause to help the fight the war against sex trafficking. And like any independent producer on a limited budget, I’m just a tad stressed. You may have been there before. You know, when you’re two days outs and still haven’t filled a few roles for key extras; volunteer crew can’t stay as long as you hoped; you’re scrambling to get last-minute props; making script changes to accommodate reality (vs. the fantasy of what you envisioned when you wrote the script). You ever been there? I’m sure you haven’t. It’s just me.

Well, on the off-chance one or two of you out there have dealt (or are dealing with) similar situations, allow me to share some of my sage advice that I’ve learned over the past 20 years since I first learned filmmaking. You can tweak these strategies to fit your own situation.

  1. Curl up in the fetal position and moan. There’s something about returning to “the womb” that brings comfort and solace. I also find the moaning to be quite calming and relaxing. I guess it’s kinda of like what Buddhist chanting does for you. If you’re alone and not too proud, it also doesn’t hurt to suck on your thumb.
  2. Lie on the floor and stare up at the ceiling. If the fetal position is just too much, this is a nice alternative. You can pass the time by counting all those tiny holes in the ceiling panels. If you live/work in one of those old buildings with that spray-on stuff on the ceiling, count the little peaks and valleys.
  3. Pull your hair out. This doesn’t work so well for me for obvious reasons. But I know many of you filmmakers have long hair, so this can work wonders.
  4. Climb a mountain. No I’m not referencing “Sound of Music.” This is more of a spiritual thing. Climb to the top of the highest mountain you can find, then cry out, “God. Why have you forsaken me!” Yes, I know it seems a little melodramatic, but it worked for David.
  5. Embrace denial. Forget the fact that you still have a million things to do and hardly any time to do it. So pop in a copy of The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, or Star Trek: The Next Generation. In my single days, I used to watch Pink Floyd’s The Wall whenever getting over a heart-break. That film works wonders for drowning your sorrows or stress. Or, you can write a blog post.

In the end, I have little doubt we’ll come out on the other end with an amazing film. But until that happens, don’t be surprised if you see me waddling down the street in my bath robe, pants around my ankles and carrying a chair, a paddle-ball, a newspaper and a desk lamp.

2 thoughts on “Pre-production Stress and Five Unorthodox Strategies to Deal with It

  1. You know, it’s funny how often I worry about projects during pre-production even though I’ve thousands of successful videos for my clients. As I get older (more mature), I’m starting to answer all the “what if” questions that spin around in my mind just prior to a shoot with the knowledge that this isn’t my first rodeo and I’m really good at improvising on the spot when necessary. I think as filmmakers, especially experienced filmmakers, we have to trust our own ability to make things happen. Of course, Jedi mind tricks won’t get extra people to the set but knowing that you’ll make it work regardless does offer some peace of mind I think.

    Regarding the points and photo represented in your post, I think that better explains how I handle life at home with 4 kids and a wife in nursing school. Talk about being overwhelmed!!

Comments are closed.