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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Bension

Why is Production Anxiety So Real?!

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

It's 4:50am in Houston, Texas. The light from outside is glowing between the slats in my blinds, while the air conditioner provides white noise in the background. My pillow is cool against my cheek, and my comforter is as fluffy as ever. The conditions are optimal to sleep, but I cannot. My brain is having production anxiety.

A little over two weeks ago, I got hired on a non-union Indie film, to be an Office Production Assistant. (We don't cross picket lines over here, honey.) I found the job on Staff Me Up, for those who are wondering. I've been applying like crazy, because I don't have recent, recognizable production credits on my resume. I have TONS of experience, but for the last decade, it's been in marketing. The last big production job I had was in 2010, working on Season 10 of American Idol when I lived in Las Vegas. I was an Office PA then too.

Now, my ultimate goal is to be a Producer in tv and/or film. That can mean many different things, but for me, I want to combine my love of organizing chaos with my creativity. On this set, I'm a problem solver. A catchall. A Jill of all trades.

The upsides to this are:

  • My boss is AMAZING. He takes the time to teach, which feels rare in this industry. If I don't know something or make a mistake, I don't fear being fired, I get an opportunity to be educated

  • As an Office PA, you get to know the WHOLE crew, not just your department. You may or may not be a little more removed from set, because you're running the Production Office (PO), but everyone gets to know you (and see your skills)

  • Facetime with the higher-ups -- not everyone has the access that we do in the PO, but that also means you need to be on point AT ALL TIMES

Now this little diddy is a dope feature from a director I'll name in a later post, but the current writer's strike has made for some interesting bedfellows on this one. You've got top tier, experienced people in every department, mixed with folks who are new to production. It's a very unique and beautiful and chaotic experience. To that end, I wake up in the middle of the night panicking about what needs to get done for the day.

Our PO team is 3.5 people strong right now (one guy is a transpo driver, but he helps us out between trips), and we inherited the show from a previous PO. We're catching up and making it our own, and in my estimation, we'll be smooth sailing in another week.

In the meantime, my brain is RIDDLED with anxious thoughts. Are my priorities in order? Did I forget anything? Will there be fires on set tomorrow that I need to anticipate? Is the crew happy? How am I doing? (My boss provides great feedback, btw)

Not to mention, I'm still in school, still an officer in the Full Sail Black Student Union, still applying for jobs, still trying to see someone outside of set at least once a month, and still running my marketing agency, Secretly Social. (Don't ask me how I'm doing it all, because I do not know. God is all I can say.)

Now I'm not complaining at all, because this is this life I'm CHOOSING. I walked away from $90k in marketing for this life. However, lately I've been asking myself how to make this feeling go away. For me, bubble baths help, mindless tv helps, prayer is top of the list, but all I've had time to do is pray. The days are long and rewarding and I'm in heaven, but that doesn't stop the anxiety.

Am I alone on this one? I've heard other people mention a similar feeling, talk to me about it!

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