Stress comes as part of the deal when you are a fight director. You are effectively paid to worry about the people you are working with and ensure their safety: that’s concern about both cast and crew of course. As a freelancer your worries extend beyond this as you’ll have bills to pay and that is always on your mind. If you’ve a family to take care of, then that worry extends beyond just bills, and outward to those you care about. So with this constant pressure how is it possible to stay on top, and stay sane?
Well it ain’t easy that’s for sure. The pressures that fight directors and stunt people have to deal with can affect them in many ways. Everyone’s situation is going to be different but its worth bearing in mind a 5 a day rule which I learned whilst volunteering for Glasgow’s Mental Health STEPS programme. The full title of the programme is 5 a Day to make you feel good. I sometimes call it 5 a day for good mental health. I’ve re-branded it myself as the acronym ALIVE as frankly it makes it easier to remember.
A – Active – Stay active
L – Look – Observe the world around you. Smell a flower, watch a sunset.
I – Interact – With others. Don’t shut yourself away.
V – Volunteer – Help people. Carry your neighbours shopping. Do something for free.
E – Educate – Keep learning.
I had my own brush with stress two and half years ago, not specifically as a result of being a fight director, but actually in relation to other stresses in my life. It’s a serious affair when this sort of thing hits you and one for which I am still in recovery. The nature of my breakdown (and I use that term very deliberately) was one of disassociation, but it can affect people in many different ways. Many, many of my friends and associates suffer from depression for example and it’s something that too many people in the entertainment business have to live with. I don’t advertise the fact that I still suffer from PTSD and believe it or not a form of Battered Wives Syndrome and the feelings of fight or flight which the header image for this post is here to represent, but its a very real thing for me.
So there it is. Take some advice from me. Keep an eye on your mental health. Take care of yourself. Consider the decisions you make and the job circumstances that you find yourself in and when worrking with others remember one of my favourite quotes “Be Kind, For Everyone You Meet Is Fighting Their Own Battle”.