The demands of 12 and even 14 hour days make it nearly impossible to hit the gym on a regular basis or follow a daily ritual. However, with a few easy changes to your routine, managing optimal levels of energy day in and day out is doable for filmmakers. The tips below will help you feel sharp and alert all day so you can tackle anything thrown your way.
You may have chosen filmmaking for its exciting, unpredictable lifestyle – but that’s also what makes it such a challenge to get 8 hours of sleep or start your day off with a nutritious breakfast. But there are real solutions that you can work into your daily routine to maximize your energy.
Let’s start by repeating the mantra, ‘Own your energy, own your success.’
Own Your Energy, Own Your Success
It’s more than just a pleasant phrase; your energy truly is tied to your success. If you’re tired and left feeling depleted, you cannot perform to the best of your abilities. When your energy is blocked, the body will experience sluggishness leaving you to feel unwell. This could eventually lead to illness. That’s why it’s best to structure your day around your energy cycle.
When it comes down to it, energy cannot be created nor destroyed but can change in form. All matter is in motion and therefore driven by energy. Energy and mass are interchangeable per quantum physics. Everything from your actions and mobility to your thoughts and emotions uses this vital force that flows through the body. So, by utilizing the best methods to generate energy, you will experience a surge in vitality and clarity.
I know what you’re thinking. That’s not exactly easy when working on set or expected to sit hours on end in an editing bay. But, if you learn how to enhance your energy throughout the day with preparation and a little forethought, you can set your own energy cycle.
By enhancing your energy levels, you’ll quickly notice your attitude, mood, decision-making, and overall performance working at peak levels. And that’s exactly what you need to do in order to make a name for yourself in your field.
Optimal energy levels allow you to successfully manage:
- Film set etiquette for crew
- Film set safety
- Risks in film production
- Meet film production health and safety guidelines
Discover how to fuel your energy so you can give all your attention to mastering your craft as a filmmaker!
Daily Routines Matter!
One of the first things I do when I wake up is to drink a full glass of water. It’s refreshing and hydrating after hours of sleep. For coffee drinkers, it’s still recommended that you drink a glass of water but coffee with healthy additives such as turmeric, collagen, fiber, and both pre and probiotics are a helpful touch.
Your morning routine doesn’t need to exceed more than 15 minutes – but make sure every second counts! Break it down to seven minutes of meditation and seven minutes of stretching for energy work and grounding into your body. Stretching gets your blood flowing. Try placing your feet up the wall, twisting, Cat-Cow, and other stretches.
A surefire way to start your day off right is with a nutritious breakfast meal. I prefer to begin my day with lean protein or fish, a salad with veggies and fresh fruit when possible. However, each of our bodies is its own unique cosmos with its own needs. The trick is simple. Know yourself. Sometimes it’s best to talk to a doctor or nutritionist to learn what fuels your body the best as well as understand what you’re lacking.
Taking daily vitamins with meals is crucial to keeping balanced energy all day. (But, as stated in the disclaimer below, you should always consult with your doctor first.) My most crucial vitamins are C, D3, Fish Oil and B complex. In fact, I try to time my intake during the middle of the day when I start to slump. You may need to experiment with certain times of day to make sure your vitamin regimen is working the best for you.
Lunch is your time to reset and it’s critical for a successful day. Whether you have an entire hour or 30 minutes, it often feels like a fraction of that when it’s all said and done.
How can you maximize your time to set yourself up for high energy while feeling great the rest of the day? For one, try not to take meetings during your lunchtime. If you work throughout your free time then you lose that chance to decompress, if only but a little, and regenerate yourself.
When you finish eating, it’s a good idea to take five minutes at the very least for yourself. You could go for a quick walk around the lot or throw on your earbuds and listen to a sound bath while meditating.
Find an activity that helps you feel relaxed to free yourself from the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) so you can get into the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). It’s through the use of rituals that help you make the conversion. This, in turn, helps you to decrease levels of stress to make you a top performer and leader by minimizing mistakes and sloppy work due to exhaustion.
If you find yourself hungry before or after lunch, I have a suggestion for a protein that’s more powerful than beef jerky and just as simple. Bone broth. Yep, you read that right. I recommend that you keep packets of bone broth in your bag at all times. It’s one of the healthiest choices for snacking and protein and helps you feel full.
There’s also coffee in moderation (1 or 2 cups per day) that is particularly effective for waning energy. However, try not to drink coffee too late or you may struggle to fall asleep at bedtime. (Though, I’ll admit there are outliers who can drink a cup after 7 PM and still hit the pillow by 9 PM.)
Proactivity for the next day happens at the end of each shoot day. So, spend a few minutes to do a debrief with your team and figure out a strategy for a seamless shoot the following day.
One of the greatest issues with our industry and a major challenge for filmmakers everywhere is the lack of sleep. If you struggle with sleeping, I recommend reading more about healthy sleep habits and why it matters in our Healthy Habits for Filmmakers: Sleep Wellness.
An overall lack of sleep drains your energy immeasurably, and there’s nothing short of actually sleeping that will change that. High-quality, consistent sleep is the key. Although, after working 12-14 hours and commuting home, you’re hardly left with a meager 6 or 7 hours of sleep.
Even if you’re not able to get a full eight hours of sleep, it doesn’t mean you should negate your pre-sleep rituals. Stick to them. It’s crucial to wind down after a long day to maximize your sleep. This could mean reading your favorite book, listening to music, or something that helps you process the events of the day.
Performing your nightly ritual also communicates to your body to prepare for sleep. The body gets into the habit of the sleep-wake cycle. Consistency signals to the body and brain that this is your relaxing time. Maybe you put on Delta waves to relax the brain and signal that this is time for rest. If you haven’t yet defined a nightly ritual for yourself, start with relaxing interests and stick to them.
How To Stay Energized In Post-Production
If you work chained to a computer in post-production world 12 to 14 hours a day, your health is just as vulnerable as those working production, if not more.
Luckily, there are filmmakers who are out there trying to make a difference in their own way. Take award-winning film and TV editor Zack Arnold, ACE. He’s known for such hits as Cobra Kai, Empire, and Burn Notice. Zack is also the founder of Optimize Yourself (formerly Fitness In Post) and created the Optimize Yourself program and podcast that helps you effectively manage your time and success.
As Zack told Filmmaking Freedom, “When producers say, ‘We’ll order you a pizza if you stay late,’ they aren’t doing you any favors. But in order to stand up for yourself, you need the energy and the confidence to do so. My hope is that by focusing on health as a priority we can change the culture of overwork rampant throughout the filmmaking world.”
Avoid Negative Energy
The stresses of production can expose you to difficult environments with hostile personalities. Whether it’s a rude remark, a combative tone of voice, or just a general projection of negative energy, it can prove excruciatingly draining.
Say that negative energy is pointed toward you, then the anxiety of the moment could trigger your fight or flight response. It’s crucial that you don’t internalize their negative energy, and instead shield yourself from it. Also, pay attention to what drains your energy throughout the day and when you have energy dips.
Protecting yourself from negative energy and energy drainers and taking the time to get your mind into the zone before any shoot will bring clarity into your day. It is critical to ground yourself every morning by standing barefoot and imagining your connection to the center of the earth and to visualize a white light energy shield around your body for protection. These two tips will protect you from automatically going into the sympathetic system of fight or flight, which is generally bad for energy and the body because it causes health issues and leads to heart disease.
Luckily, there are ways for you to boost that parasympathetic part of your brain. When you find yourself in such a moment, breathe… five, four, three, two, one… There, much better, right? Fill your lungs with oxygen and breathe away the negative energy. Another way to boost your energy is to do a creative visualization with your eyes closed in an area that you find relaxing like the beach or a forest. Spending a few minutes there in your mind can be a great way to reset.
Ultimately, you can control your energy and how you feel all day by creating your own daily routines. You can break it up by morning, lunchtime, and night, or any other variation that’s specific to you. Just be sure to take time for stretching, eating nutritious foods, and setting time for yourself to regenerate both mentally and physically.
When it comes to enduring negative energy on set, I know it’s easier said than done. Really, it’s like Superman’s Kryptonite, where you can’t even think right in the situation. However, we are beings of energy, and the principles of energy apply. You can feel the energy of others around you – just walking into a room full of tension. You can feel the anxiety in the air. Then, there are people who always make you feel good. If you’re in tune with yourself you, too, can project positive energy.
Recognize for yourself your ability to manage your levels of energy just as well as positive and negative vibes. By giving yourself proper fuel, respite, and nutrition, you’ll notice huge strides of positive energy uplifting both you and your career!
*Disclaimer: This energy article is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice and treatment from your personal physician. Readers are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. The authors do not take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person reading or following the information from Filmmakers Academy. All readers, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition or supplement program. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information presented is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.