Fix It In Post - Part 1: Bad Day On-Set

Fix it in Post, Part 1

A couple of months ago, I felt like I had a day from Hell on set! The director barely gave me the time of day. I wasn’t able to get my lines out in the time and space that he wanted. He wasn’t talking directly to me, but to me through others.

Other actors on set were joking with me, hugging me, letting me know it was all good. The crew was doing what they could to help me.

But, I still left defeated.

I cried to friends on the way home. They met me with chocolate cake and wine in hand. They told me, “Everything would be okay. I would get asked back to set. It probably wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.” They were telling me everything that I would tell any one of my friends in the same situation.

I had a sadness hangover the next day. I don’t know if it was from the sugar or the crying, but I felt sick.

Have you ever had a day like that?

When it comes to days like that, there are both physical and mental things I do to help get through it.

I used a tool called “The Triad”:

  • Changing my physiology (my physical state, breathing, or body language)
  • Shifting my focus from negative to the positive
  • Creating an empowering meaning to the situation.

1. To physically shake myself out of it, I went on a walk out in nature. I took my favorite path and took in the redbud trees and Chicago River. I breathed in the fresh spring air. Just physically moving my body gave me energy and jolted me out of my funk.

2. To shift my focus away from the day from Hell, I wrote in my gratitude journal. I was grateful for the job, grateful for such a great support system, grateful for a beautiful city, and legs to walk on.

3. To create an empowering meaning for the problem, I thought about what I could learn from this. In preparing for the shoot, I made a different choice than usual. In other words, I didn’t trust myself as an actor. This experience showed that my instincts were correct. From now on, I will trust my gut and do what got me there in the first place.

There’s a fallacy that once we get to a certain point in our career, we’ll be exempt from problems. CLICK TO TWEET

No matter where you are in your career: someone just starting out, a recurring co-star, a series regular or an Oscar winner, you’re going to have problems in your life.

As a working actor, I still need to use the tools I teach others. I still need to talk about my problems and see them differently.

The struggle has a purpose.

It’s there to help us grow into the next phase of our life. Figure out how to grow from the problem. Most people want to be comfortable and stay the same. If you ignore your problem, it will never go away.

What you resist persists.

Instead of resisting, lean into the problem. Investigate it. Learn from it. Then, shift it.

When the episode came out, I realized I had nothing to worry about. The editors, the Director of Photography, and the cameramen are all amazing at their jobs. They did what they needed to make sure it looked right and timed out correctly. They know how to make an actor look good even when the actor is not having their best day. It’s truly a team effort.

Production often says, “We’ll fix it in post”.

This is when they do what they can to fix any mistakes in post-production. They’ll do ADR to re-record lines, add in special effects, and do any editing they need to do to make it better.

Sometimes you must “Fix it in post” in your mind!

Do what you can to be compassionate with yourself for making a mistake.  Use the triad to change your physiology, your focus, and your meaning.

And see the final product differently. You might not have actual video footage to see, like I did. But, we’re constantly playing “video footage” in our head of what happened. You can just change that footage in your head to something new and improved. But, that’s a whole new blog post!

Now I’d like to hear from you! When’s the last time you had a bad day? Did you beat yourself up? What did you do to get back on track?

Courtney Rioux, The Whole Artist coaches actors and other creative talent who feel stuck in their career and want more out of life. She's here to help you shift your mindset from stuck and unhappy to empowered and joyful — all while making it feel fun and easy. It’s like therapy without the therapy.

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