With Pandemic And Streaming Boom, Mental Health Support Is Coming To Some Film Sets

With Pandemic And Streaming Boom, Mental Health Support Is Coming To Some Film Sets

In the summer of 2021, as producer Joanna Laurie plans to work on Oscar-winning writer-director Florian Zeller's next drama, The Son, she knows the stress levels for the cast and crew will be very high. They have had to deal with strict Covid-19 safety protocols and the complex issue of teen depression and suicide.

So the London-based producer did the usual: he hired a company that provided him with secret virtual therapy sessions while filming in New York, London and France. The show has become so popular that he plans to repeat it in other products.

"We had to make sure we care deeply about the cast and crew involved in the process of making a mental health film, and that's a very serious subject," Laurie said. Produced by See-Saw Films. "I think we're close to seeing it."

Be that as it may, film and television can be stressful and dangerous jobs. The outbreak has added to many concerns as the cast and crew return to work to face strict safety protocols such as testing, wearing masks and social distancing. The increase in streaming is putting more pressure on crews: production of new shows is increasing and crews are working longer hours to keep up with demand, increasing employee fatigue and stress.

As a result, many producers are committed to providing medical services on and off set to help filmmakers cope with work stress.

Among its beneficiaries is the English company Solas Mind, with which See-Saw Films signed a contract to produce Sony's son. The company has developed a digital platform that allows employees to schedule therapy sessions and has partnered with studios such as Apple TV and NBC Universal. With a team of 30 consultants and psychotherapists, Solas Mind is looking to expand its operations in the US and Canada to meet the needs of manufacturers for their services.

“This feeling of loneliness, when people are away from their families, locked in hotel rooms, all the positive aspects of the industry, social problems disappear,” said Sarah McCaffrey, founder of the company. “There was a big need for people to be able to talk to someone at the end of the work day.”

You can often hear producers cater to all the needs of A-list stars, but teams rarely get help.

And despite rising costs, some vendors are recognizing the value of offering therapeutic services as an added value to attracting team members.

“I think the productions are longer, the budgets are tighter, so the schedules are tighter, and it all has the side effect of being tired, which leads to inefficiency,” said psychotherapist and former actor McCaffrey.

The International Workers' Alliance, which represents film and television professionals, advocates for more therapists in production.

“Providing additional mental health resources and support to employees and anyone who needs it is a good thing,” said IATSA spokesman Jonas Loeb. He noted that the union is working with the Film and Television Foundation and other groups to provide workers with mental health resources.

The use of therapists on film sets is relatively rare, but there have been a few high-profile cases.

Georgia-based therapist Kim White has been hired to help develop the 2020 Amazon limited series Underground Railroad.

"Studios and producers are aware of the pressures and stresses that affect our entire society and want to help the people involved in their projects," White said, adding that common concerns raised by clients add to the stress. Informal work, financial instability, and separation anxiety.

After Subway, White also helped Amazon create The Lord of the Rings: Ring of Power, according to Core. Amazon's "The Boys" spin-off "Gen V" was also shown.

Amazon offered medical services at six shows last year and plans to increase that number by 2023, he said, citing the diversity, fairness, inclusiveness and availability of Amazon Studios content for the US and the world.

“If we make people feel valued, heard, seen in our collections, we know that if we go back there, they will choose us as their top priority.” – Cor. he said

The use of mental health services on film sets is widespread in the UK.

From 2021, the British Film Institute will sponsor a program to support "safety facilitators" who provide advice on stress and mental health issues and develop industry guidelines to prevent bullying, harassment and racism. BFI funding has been expanded over the past year.

Wellness coordinators are not therapists, but they can refer team members to qualified mental health professionals, resolve conflicts, and train new or emerging employees.

So far, little compares to independent groups in the US, he said, adding that his company is receiving funding from the UK government as part of a new mental health initiative. Some companies offer employee assistance programs, but these are often not available to the self-employed.

He started his work in 2020 and is currently working on over 80 products. McCaffrey declined to say how much his company charges, but said the price depends on the level of support each product requires.

Many clients struggle month after month to balance their long lives at home, she says.

"It's hard to strike a work-life balance when you're working long hours," McCaffrey said.

Experienced workers are in high demand as manufacturing resumes in 2020, and offering services such as free mental health care to the self-employed will make manufacturers more attractive employers.

When Carl Legish began production on Apple TV's Essex Serpent during the 2020 pandemic, he knew he wanted to offer mental health support to his British actors.

Ligis has been hired as production manager at 60Forty Films, has an exclusive contract with Apple TV, and intends to use mental health resources in all of her future projects, such as her role as Idris Elba in the upcoming thriller Hick.

“Now the competition is between production companies trying to get a good, experienced team,” Liggis said.

For documentaries, the American non-profit initiative Documentary has supported a research project focusing on key mental health issues in the field, said UK co-founder Rebecca Day.

A documentary filmmaker trained as a psychotherapist, Day founded her own therapy company Film in Mind in the UK in 2018. Her work includes psychological counseling, seminars and lectures.

He helps filmmakers resolve communication issues, often between directors and producers, or deal with complex production and financial issues.

"It doesn't seem very reasonable," Day said of the dilemma facing documentary filmmakers. "There's a lot of money, but it won't go to freelancers who feel inadequate and overworked."

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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