This episode is sponsored by IATSE 891
Sarah Taylor sits down with psychotherapist Rebecca Day to talk about our mental health as creatives in the midst of a pandemic.
Rebecca Day is a qualified psychotherapist and freelance documentary producer. She founded her company, Film In Mind in 2018 to address mental health in the film industry and has spoken at festivals such as Berlinale, IDFA, Getting Real Documentary Conference, WIFT and Sheffield DocFest on the issue. She offers therapeutic support and supervision to filmmakers working in difficult situations and with vulnerable people, as well as consultancies and workshops on mental health in the film industry.
Her previous feature, Becoming Animal, directed by Emma Davie & Peter Mettler was a Scottish/Swiss co-production and premiered at CPH Dox in 2018. She is currently working with the impact team on Evelyn, an intimate and poignant film about death by suicide, made by academy award-winning director Orlando Von Eisendel at Grain Media and is producing a documentary with first-time feature director, Duncan Cowles titled, Silent Men.
For more info about Rebecca go to Film In Mind.
Another great mental health resource in Canada is Calltime: Mental Health. The site has a learning centre where you can take online courses about mental health as well as many resources. Links to help with general mental health, depression, anxiety, sleep, alcohol and addiction, suicide, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ resources. There is loads of information!
This episode is generously sponsored by IATSE 891.
Hello, and welcome to The Editor’s Cut. I’m your host, Sarah Taylor. We would like to point out
the lands on which we have created this podcast, and that many of you may be listening to us
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relinquished their rights or sovereign authority over the lands and waters on which we stand
today. We encourage you to reflect on the history of the land, the rich culture, the many
contributions, and the concerns that impact indigenous individuals and communities. Land
acknowledgements are the start to a deeper action.
It’s been quite the year, right? Feel like it’s a good time to check in with our mental health, so
today, I’m bringing you a conversation I had with psychotherapist Rebecca Day. Rebecca’s a
qualified psychotherapist and freelance documentary producer. She founded her company, Film
in Mind, in 2018 to address mental health in the film industry. She has spoken at festivals such as
Berlinale, IDF, Getting Real documentary conference, WIFT, and Sheffield Doc/Fest on the issue.
She offers therapeutic support and supervision to filmmakers working in difficult situations and
with vulnerable people, as well as consultancies and workshops on mental health in the film
industry. Her previous feature, Becoming Animal, directed by Emma Davie and Peter Mettler,
was a Scottish-Swiss co-production and premiered at CPH:DOX in 2018. She’s currently working
with the impact team on Evelyn, an intimate and poignant film about death by suicide made by
Academy-Award-winning director Orlando von Einsiedel at Green Media and is producing a
documentary with first-time director Duncan Cowles, titled Silent Men.
Rebecca Day, thank you so much for joining us today. You’re based in London, is that correct?
Well, actually in the Lake District in the north of England. It’s not in a city, which is lovely.
Oh, awesome! So thank you for joining us from all the way over the pond. Today, we’re going to
talk about mental health. We’re in a really trying time in the world, and I think it’s a good time to
check in and see how we’re all doing and maybe talk about things that can make our lives as
creatives a little bit easier. I’m really interested to learn about your journey, because you have a
company called Film in Mind, and you’re a psychotherapist, but you’re also a filmmaker. So can
you tell us a little bit about where you’re from, how you got into the film industry, and then how
Film in Mind came to be?
Yeah, of course. Well, firstly, thank you for having me. It’s a real pleasure to be here. Yeah, I’ve
been working as a documentary producer for about… I think it’s coming on to 15 years, actually,
now. I’m still producing a little bit, but I’m pretty much almost full-time now as a
psychotherapist. I worked pretty much all in independent documentary, so feature-length films
being made for cinema, very tricky, challenging funding routes; tricky, challenging stories; lots of
really moving, emotional subject matter. Also, a really varied stuff over the years, and moving
around that independent international film circuit and just really getting to know the industry on
During my time doing it, I guess there were just parts of the producing work that resonated with
me more than other parts, so it would be more of the emotional connection work, the outreach
and audience engagement stuff that I started working on, really appealed to me, and I wanted to
find out how I could connect with that more in the work that I was doing and sort of moving
away from some of the budgeting kind of stuff. Which I guess I was good at, but it didn’t really
speak to me from a passion perspective, I suppose, and I started my psychotherapy training a
few years ago, I think. 2016, I think it was, and qualified a couple of years later.
And it was during that transition period that I started to make these connections between the
therapy world and the world of documentary in particular. I’m starting to see this with the fiction
world now as well, but at the time, it was very much about documentary, and it was this
realization that people making documentaries are immersing themselves in very much the same
difficult content, if I can use that word, because obviously, we wouldn’t use that word as a
therapist, but I can (as a) filmmaker. Subject matter, stories, being immersed with people in that
way, but without the support structures and without the training, really, to emotionally hold
themselves safe while doing that work.
I’d experienced through colleagues, my own experience as well, and friends of mine, seeing
people drop out of the industry from burnout and exhaustion, or relationships breaking down
because we didn’t have the time to communicate effectively with each other, and a lot… I guess
lots of emotional strain that wasn’t being talked about that I then really wanted to address once
I’d gone through my training and realized that I kept writing about this in all of my essays. Yeah,
so it kind of came out of that, and then I created Film in Mind. I set it up as a private practice,
really, just reaching out to the film community and saying, “I’m here for therapy,” and it’s kind of
snowballed from there. I work with clients as a therapist, hourly sessions, weekly or fortnightly,
all around the world, all on Zoom. There’s not many filmmakers in the Lake District. And then
speaking on.. speaking in events and festivals and doing a little bit of training.. as well. So..Yeah,
it’s really varied and really rewarding work.
Do you find that a lot of your clients are actually in the film industry? Like did you really, like
they’ve tapped into that, and they’ve found you.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I have a.. Yeah! I do work with clients who aren’t in the film industry as well,
but it’s a very small percentage of my work. The majority of my clients are… mostly directors, but
I do have a lot of other practitioners working in different departments coming for support as
well, and sometimes we focus completely on the work, and I’d say for the most part, you know,
it’s all the other stuff that life chucks at us that comes into the therapy as well.
Totally, yeah. I think it’s really interesting, and I’ve never really sat back to think about it, but as a
therapist, you’re trained on how to give yourself space and time to process and not to take on
other people’s stuff. That’s what I’m assuming. And as the documentary editor, I’m really digging
into these people’s stories, and they’re stories that are traumatic, and there’s all sorts of things
that we discover in the edit suite.
But yeah, we don’t have the tools to see that, “Oh, I’m feeling really stressed right now,” or, “I’m
feeling really anxious right now. Well, maybe it does have something to do with what I’m
working on, and it’s not just something’s wrong with me, but it’s how I’m consuming and
absorbing the information that I’m looking at all day long.” So I’m just commenting on how
fantastic it is that you saw that, and you decided, “I’m going to pursue this, and I’m going to help
people unpack all this information, and how do we protect ourselves?” And so I’m just curious, is
there something that you could suggest as a first way of maybe shifting our mindsets into how to
keep ourselves safe when we’re working on content that’s really challenging?
Yeah, I think the first, most important thing is for us as a community to recognize that the work
we do is emotionally challenging. That’s the first part, because we seem to work in a culture
where we’re not allowed to admit it. It’s that sort of show-no-weakness kind of attitude, and it’s
not a weakness to say that when you’re sitting for hours editing really hard footage that that is
going to have a strain on you emotionally. That’s one of the first things we learn as therapists, is
don’t shy away from the work, but learn how to do it safely, because the work is always going to
be challenging, and if this is where you want to be, then there’s things that you can put in place
to make sure that you can show up for your clients. And I think for me, it just felt exactly the
same for filmmakers. It wasn’t saying, “Don’t do that work, because it’ll be too hard for you.” It’s
saying, “How can you do it in a way that keeps you strong and keeps you healthy and keeps you
really present in it?” And the first step of that is saying, “Oh, no, this is going to be difficult for
me, but that doesn’t make me weak.” It’s that recognition of it.
Yeah. Yeah, and I think once you have those realizations, it’s things like, okay, well, I know that
the first few weeks of doing a new doc, when I’m looking through all the footage and really
getting to know what’s happening, I might not overbook myself, or I might need to make sure I
put in place things that make me feel good after I’m done working, or that sort of thing. But we
can’t do that until we acknowledge that yes, this is going to be challenging, and that is okay. So
that’s really great.
As you know, as a filmmaker, obviously, we aren’t in a career that is stable or constant. There’s
always stuff that’s happening where we don’t know when the next gig’s going to be, or we don’t
know how long the project might be, or now we’re in the middle of a pandemic that has been
almost a year. And so how do we, as creatives, stay healthy and avoid burnout or avoid
depression when we’re kind of always trying to catch the next thing in some ways?
It’s a really good question, Sarah, because I think if you had asked me that question
pre-pandemic, my answer probably would’ve been quite similar. I think the pandemic has added
a layer onto what we were already experiencing. Especially in the doc world, we were starting to
recognize that we were in a mental health crisis before the pandemic hit, and conversations
around burnout and depression were happening, but they were happening very quietly and
behind the scenes. I think what the pandemic has allowed us to do is, in some ways, made us
realize how resilient we are because we are used to working with uncertainty.
Some ways, we’ve actually been quite well-equipped to cope with this, because we’ve been used
to that sort of shifting world around us and never really knowing on, but in other ways, I’ve really
noticed as well that the industry just galvanized and were like, “Right, what can we do? How can
we survive this? How can we get through it?” And there was sort of this huge lead as well for a
pause and just to use the time that we had to… You know..When work was being canceled, and
all of that was happening, just to say, “This is time for you to kind of heal from the ten years, or
however long you’ve been working in the industry, to heal from all of that potential burnout that
you’ve been suffering,” and for people to notice where they were at, to take stock.
And I’m hearing that had happened to lots of people, but on the flip side, there was also that
real FEAR of, “I CAN`T… I don’t feel creative. I can’t muster the energy to work on these projects
that I’ve been putting off and now have time to do,” or whatever we have been placed with…
And I think what we weren’t really talking about or recognizing is that we were all experiencing
some kind of collective trauma. I think we probably understand that a bit better now, but we
were kind of living in this sort of weird state of fear, quite prolonged, lengthy period of fear. Well,
when your brain is in sort of protective mode, actually can’t be creative. That part of your brain
shuts down, because it’s in survival mode.
So I talked a lot at the beginning of the pandemic about just being kind to yourself and not
pushing yourself too hard and waiting for the creativity to come back, because your body kind of
needed to come back down to Earth and feel safe again before you could start being creative.
And it’s very possible that some people are still in that place.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that’s really… makes me think. Totally, that makes sense, and we put a lot of
pressure on ourselves, because it’s like, “Well, what else am I supposed to do right now? I’m
home. I can’t go anywhere. I should be able to make this thing, and I should be able to make it
really great, but I can’t.” So to hear, “Yeah, well, your brain is on overdrive, and you’re working
through something that is something we’ve never dealt with before.” And..Yeah… And I know for
some people, they were then trying to do their work and have their kids at home and have their
spouse at home, and maybe they had no one at home, and they were alone. So we’ve really had
to work through… a lot of heavy things, I feel, during this time.
On the flip side, though, it kind of, for me anyway, showed how important the work we do is,
how people then turn to the TV or to films to kind of maintain some sort of comfort. And we got
to see all these shows and binge-watch the shows that we never got to watch before because we
were too busy and learned stories from people that we didn’t necessarily know about before,
because we had this time to just kind of be. So for me, it made me proud of the work that I do
put out in the world, because sometimes, in a moment of crisis, a world crisis, people took time
to reflect and be in those moments with those films and those shows. So there’s two sides to
everything, I guess.
Yeah. I kind of touched on, some people were isolated and alone, and as editors, we typically do
work alone most of the time. So now, there’s people that are working alone and not able to see
people, so do you have any advice or tips about how to deal with that isolation and that
loneliness that’s happening normally, maybe, in our work, but also extra now because of the
I guess it really depends on your living situation, doesn’t it, because some people might be
working alone in their job, but as soon as they finish, they’re then dialing into a noisy family and
all of that brings. So you might find that what you’re not getting is any head space to yourself.
And then there could be people with different experiences, who are living alone and are really
craving that human contact and I guess it’s about trying to make the most of the things that you
are allowed to do, whether it’s going for a walk with a friend… I can´t imagine for editors, it must
just feel exhausting, the thought of getting on Zoom and talking to a friend.
Having been on screen all day, and… Yeah, I definitely have Zoom fatigue, it became a thing quite
quickly, because I do all of my work on Zoom now. I find that going for a walk and having a phone
call instead was a really nice way to connect with people. I don’t know what it’s been like where
you are, Sarah, but we’ve always been allowed to exercise with one other person as well. I like
exercising on my own, because it gives me head space, but I’ve also used it as an excuse to meet
up with a friend and have a walk or a run, just to have some contact with someone. I guess it’s
about finding those ways that you can connect that also take you off the screen, which is really
In the long term, when we’re not finding ourselves in a pandemic, loneliness and isolation is
something that filmmakers, not just editors, but directors and especially documentary makers,
obviously, because we work in really small teams, talk about a lot. Maybe the times they only
really connect with other people is when they go to a film festival, and one of the things that has
been really useful for me as a therapist, and I wish I’d had this when I was producing full time, is I
do peer-to-peer… We call it peer-to-peer supervision, but it’s really a catch-up with two or three
other therapists once a month, and we schedule it in monthly. We put two hours aside for it, and
we make sure that everyone has a chance to talk. So it’s useful to structure it so that if
somebody has an issue that they want to bring, something… so it’s not just a free-flowing
conversation, that there’s space for people to bring the thing that’s on their minds. That can be a
really useful sort of constructive but supportive place just to share and feel safe in doing that.
Especially as a freelance editor, for myself, I don’t work with other editors unless they are
working in their edit suite in their house or wherever they are, and that is the thing that I hear a
lot of people say that they miss about not working in a studio, and I think a lot of people who
had worked in studios pre-pandemic miss that you can go down the hall, and you can sit in the
edit suite, and you can say, “Hey, I just need a break from my screen,” or, “Hey, can you come
look at this edit?” So to actually give yourself the permission to schedule in time to be like, “Hey,
let’s watch my cut,” that’s brilliant. That’s such a great idea. I hope that people take that and do
it, because I think I’m going to have to implement that into my schedule.
Yeah, I think so. And obviously, nobody’s getting paid for that time, but I see it as a really crucial
part of my work, you know.. To set that time aside. And if it’s once a month, it doesn’t feel like a
huge commitment out of your working schedule, but it feels really nourishing and important.
Sort of keep me steady.
Yeah. And I think we often get those kind of… I know when I go to, say… because before, with
the CCE, we would have pub nights, and we would get to talk shop, and we’d meet and have
different talks and stuff, and I would always get energized after that, because I got to sit with an
editor and talk about editing for three hours, and it was just the best thing ever. So yeah, to
implement that into your schedule and make that part of being an editor, yeah, that’s a brilliant
idea. Thank you for that one.
Something else I think is really interesting and something I worked through as a freelancer is
setting boundaries of when I’m working and when I’m not working, and I think it’s really hard
right now, too, because a lot of people are working from home, to kind of blur the work time
with life time, and like, “Well, I’m here all day anyway. I’ll just work for 12 hours.” Do you have
any suggestions or ways of you know, setting boundaries for yourself, to say, “This is what’s good
for me,” and then being able to relay that to the directors or the producers you’re working with?
Yeah. I mean, it’s easier said than done, isn’t it? But just set your working hours.
I would just really strictly set your working hours right at the very beginning when you establish
that relationship. You know that if things overrun or you’re working on something really that you
don’t want to step away from, and you want to continue for another hour, you as the editor then
have the choice about whether or not you want to extend for an hour or you know offer a couple
of hours over your weekend, if that’s what’s needed. You get to choose that. But if you set really
strict working hours, there are the ones you commit to, and then you have the choice and
flexibility of whether or not to play with those hours as and when it’s needed, but only when it
You know, I’m really strict about my weekends. It helps that I have a child, so I kind of need to be,
you know but I do occasionally work at the weekends when I have to. But it is that moment
critical moment of, “What’s the benefit of doing this at the weekend if I can’t fit this into the
week?” So it has to be.. I have to kind of talk it through, mull it through, in my head and make
sure that my family’s okay with it and just have those really strict boundaries. Once you get into
the habit of it, it starts to feel very easy. It’s just breaking the habit of being available all the time.
Yeah, yeah. I think with technology being in our hands to answer the email or the thing, it is
really easy to just always be on. I found for myself I didn’t set those boundaries until I had a kid,
too, and then I was like, “Well, I can’t. I physically can’t be in my edit suite, because I have to take
care of my child.” So…
I was just going to say about notifications, Sarah, one thing you could do is just turn your
notifications off, but maybe a more helpful thing, because I know people find that difficult, is I
turn off the description of the notification, so when it comes to my phone, I can see I have an
email, but I can’t see who it’s from or what’s in it, and I find that so helpful. Because then I’m
like, “Okay, there’s an email. I’ll choose to look at it when I.. I have time. But if you can see the
content, it’s really hard to step away from it then.
Yeah, yeah. Especially when you’re really excited about a project, and you’re like… there’s that
other side of it where you really want to actually do the work, but you need to allow yourself to
have time to reset and settle, I think.
Sometimes that’s even hard, when you’re really passionate about what you’re working on. You
might want to work all the time. Something you said earlier is not giving yourself mental space
for yourself, and I think sometimes we miss that. If you are a caregiver to children or you have
other responsibilities, you still have to incorporate time for just you. Because I know for myself,
sometimes, I’m like, “Oh, well, I worked for eight hours today. I was by myself. That’s me time.”
But it’s not me time, because I’m working, and I’m doing other things. I’m not doing just what I
need to do to be a full human. Do you have any thoughts on what we could do to allow ourselves
to have those times?
Yeah, again, I guess it’s listening to your instincts, isn’t it? I understand what you’re saying,
especially when you talk about really enjoying your work, because I love my work. I’m so happy
to do the job that I do and to sit down at my desk and connect with people in this way, but that
doesn’t mean that I want to do it all of the time, and I still try to set those boundaries between
work, life, and that time that I need for myself. If I can feel myself getting irritable or too tired or
a bit detached from my work, that’s often a sign for me. It’s just either wanting the day to end or
not really being 100% present. That’s when I notice that, “Okay, I need to take an hour to myself
with nobody else and go for a walk or go for a run,” or whatever it might be. Or just cook with
nobody else around. Or you know… The weather’s getting warmer, gardening tends to be my
thing as well.
I just got into gardening last year, and I was like, “Why have I missed this all these years? It’s so
relaxing.” I loved it.
Me too. Yeah, it was last year for me as well. Through the lockdown.
Yeah, the lockdown brought out all sorts of things that we could invest in or look into.
We talked a little bit about this earlier, about working on traumatic content. Do you have a
suggestion on if we know… “Okay, I’m going to start this project, and I know it’s going to be really
heavy.” Is there a way of looking at it or prepping ourselves to feel like we have more control of
our emotional state while we’re working on something that’s very dramatic?
I think it’s really wise to say to yourself that yeah, you could be traumatized from working on
this. And again, the same as I said before, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, but there’s
things that you can put in place to make sure that you’re resilient through it. The first question to
ask is, “Am I likely to be traumatized because this is really challenging, or am I likely to be
traumatized, or am I doing this project, because I relate to the trauma?” Because if there is
something I’ve known from a lot of people are drawn to work because it’s something they see
themselves in or a subject they’re familiar with. If that’s the case, and it’s a processed for you, I
wouldn’t say, “Don’t do it,” but I would say, “Make sure that you’ve processed it emotionally first,
or at least while you’re working on the project.” And the best way to do that is with a therapist.
They’re hard questions to ask. They’re big questions to ask yourself, but you don’t want to
potentially be re-traumatized or traumatized in the middle of that work. I don’t know if the
editing world talks about vicarious trauma very often.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard that phrase, so tell us. Tell us more.
It’s not something we talk about usually in the film industry, but it’s second time trauma.
Therapists obviously understand this quite well, the idea that you can be traumatized from
sitting with someone else’s trauma, from supporting someone, or helping someone else cope
with their own trauma. Which I realize editors aren’t communicating directly with the people
who might be revealing their trauma in the footage, but you’re witnessing it over and over and
over again quite repetitively as well. So vicarious trauma is a very real risk, and there’s certain
ways that you can notice that might be happening.
The first and most simple thing is a mood check. If you’ve finished a day of editing, and you’ve
stepped away from the computer, are you coming away with rage, or sadness, or anger that feels
out of proportion to how you normally might feel? And it could be that you’re holding onto
something. The other feeling you could have is feelings of guilt. Say, if you’re working on
something like a climate change documentary, or something like that, or something that’s sort of
speaking to the politics of our time, and you’re sitting there with all that guilt, what’s happening
in the world, and again, it’s out of proportion to how you might normally feel about something.
You’re holding all of that, and you’re not able to switch off from your work. That’s another
indication of vicarious trauma. The other thing to be wary of that you can notice is detachment.
So, if you feel yourself having no emotions to it, detaching from it, again, that’s the brain’s way of
saying, “This is too much.” You don’t want to be surrounded by it.
So if you notice those things, any of those four, I think you said, what should you do?
I think you should ask yourself if you’re getting enough breaks. Are you working seven days a
week? Because if you are, that’s probably not wise. Are you stepping away from your computer,
even if it’s just for five minutes every hour, to just make sure that you have a break from the
screen and just to clear your head? Are you eating enough? Are you sleeping enough? And then
lastly, do you need extra support? So, wherever that’s speaking to a therapist, or again, that idea
peer-to-peer supervision would be really helpful in that sense. I’m also working with filmmakers
in a supervisory way as well, so where it’s not the personal that they’re bringing to the therapy,
but it’s completely work-related. So looking at projects and the effects that they’re having on
So if you’re working on a film that you know is going to be something heavy, you could have
somebody like you on hand and be like, “Okay, I’m starting to feel detached, or I’m starting to
feel whatever it might be. I think I need to talk to this.”
Yeah. It’s a step towards normalizing it, isn’t it?
Yeah, yeah, and knowing that, “Oh, I can listen to myself, and I can step away,” because again, in
this industry, and I feel like a lot of it’s shifting because of us being in a moment of reflection
with COVID, that we are like, “Get it done, go, go, go. Get it as much as we can cut out. You
know?” And we are not looked at necessarily as humans with emotions. You work your 12-hour
day, you work seven days a week, because we have a deadline, and there’s notes to do, or
whatever. And this is why I want to talk about this stuff, so that we can normalize it, like you say,
to normalize that we do, are going to feel things, and that that’s normal and that we can get the
supports we need, if we continue to talk about it.
Absolutely. I think the need for normalizing it is so, so important. In terms of long working hours,
you know as a therapist, I have a set number of clients that I would see in a day, and however in
need somebody is, I won’t squeeze in another appointment, because I have to have the energy
to be there for them. It’s more dangerous for me to show up for a client and be exhausted and
without the energy to actually engage with them than it is to squeeze them in. You know? And
so those sorts of boundaries are so important, and I think it really applies here in filmmaking as
well, in terms of energy levels that you have for your edit. So if you’re working 12 hours a day,
seven days a week, I would suggest that you’re probably working at half your capacity during
some of that time.
To reduce that, you might be working at 75% of your capacity rather than 50%.
Yeah, that’s something that I noticed. I started to really tune into myself and be like, “Okay, well,
this is when I’m the most creative, so let’s do this type of work when I’m most creative.” The
theory of working smarter instead of working harder, and I think we, by, again, talking about it
and sharing how you work as an editor can allow other people to take that time to reflect and be
like, “Oh, well, when am I the most creative? Maybe I do work best at one in the morning
because I’m a night owl,” or whatever. And just to be like, “That’s how I work, and that’s how I do
my best work, and I don’t have to be working for 12 hours a day, because I’m going to be sitting
there for six just zoning out at the screen and not actually doing anything.
Yeah, I think we as creatives and as editors have to take that time to just reflect and be like,
“Well, what’s best that I can bring to the job to do the best job I can do?” And definitely, for me,
no more than eight hours in the edit suite, because I’m not productive anymore.
Yeah. Another thing that we as freelancers, because a lot of editors are freelancers, we usually
get work through word of mouth, and going to events and networking, and meeting new
producers or directors, and now we can’t do that, and a lot of people have been kind of forced to
try to network online. So I don’t know if you have any ideas or thoughts on how to be more
comfortable, even just selling yourself and being like, “I do this work. I’m really good,” but also
doing it online.
It’s really hard, isn’t it? Because I’m not naturally comfortable online either. And thankfully,
because there’s not many of us doing this work as therapy for film, there’s not a huge amount of
competition for me at the moment, so I don’t have to do an awful lot of marketing, which is a
real relief, because I’d be terrible at it. So I really sympathize with that. I really miss film festivals.
I love going to those places and just those spontaneous meetings that you have with people that
lead to really fulfilling working relationships.
It is something that will start again. I know it will, I just don’t know when, and I know everyone
else feels the same, so I guess all we can do at the moment is just show up for the online stuff if
it feels useful, and to know that if you’re going to show up and can’t find the opportunity to
speak, then maybe it’s not the most useful thing for you. But also, I guess there’s something
about being proud of the work that you’ve done and shouting about it if you can, if that’s what
you want to do. I know a lot of people feel quite awkward about that, don’t they? About going
online, going on Instagram or Facebook or whatever the platform is that you use and saying, “I
worked on this amazing documentary,” and really owning the role that you had in that, whatever
film it was that you made. Maybe that’s where we need to be a little bit louder and a little bit
more confident. I don’t have a brilliant answer for that one, I’m afraid.
Well, even that’s helpful. I’ve found over the time… We..I was introduced to you through a panel
at a random virtual coffee with filmmakers, and I was like, “Well, I’ll just go.” And my plan when I
went to that event was to just do some work and listen, and then it was actually really engaging,
and I was just into it. So sometimes, you can actually find those moments via this weird Zoom
world, that we can.. Somebody might say something that sparks something, and we can.. it’s
almost like we have the permission even more so now to just be like, “Hey, can I connect with
you? Because..you know? Can I have your email? Can we exchange later?” And we can connect
with people from around the world in our house, which is nice, but we have to still put ourselves
in that situation in order to make those connections.
Which, I guess in reality, even we’d still have to go to the event to go and network in person,
which can be really challenging, too, and a little nerve-racking, especially… often as editors, like
we said earlier, we work by ourselves, and we might work with a huge team of people, but we’ve
never met them. So we go to these events, and you’re like, “I worked on this film. Hey, I worked
with your footage,” or, “I saw your name in the credits. I put your name in the credits, but I’ve
never met you.” And to have that courage to go up and say, “Hi, this is who I am,”. It also, I think
that even extends to posting about what you work on and being like, “Hey, this is what I did.”
Again, giving yourself permission to just be proud of what you do and how you contribute to
Yeah. And knowing how you feel comfortable communicating and socializing as well, because I
notice that since I’ve been working in the film industry as a therapist, I feel a lot more confident
in myself than I did as a producer. I always felt that I wasn’t loud enough as a producer. I’m
naturally quite a quiet person, and for some reason, that’s more acceptable in the role. I feel like
it’s more acceptable now than when I was a producer, and so I’ve just become more at ease, I
think, with my voice and how I can use it in a way that I was as a producer. So I guess it’s
knowing yourself in that way as well, and saying, “How far am I willing to go out of my comfort
Something else that I’ve encountered over the years is a lot of… I guess this kind of relates to
cheerleading for yourself, but the negative self-talk we often have as creatives, where it’s like,
“Oh, this isn’t going to be good. I don’t know what I’m doing.” Every project’s different, and
there’s always challenges, and how to maybe deal with what you might be telling yourself when
you’re in the midst of doing something, and the creativity it’s not there? Especially this year,
where you were mentioning earlier how our brains weren’t being creative because we were in
trauma. So how can we practice speaking to ourselves better?
I really like that question. I think kindness goes a long way, and the kindness that you offer
yourself, as well as the kindness that you need and are hopefully receiving from other people.
Getting to know your critical voice is a really crucial thing. Everyone has one, but some people’s
critical voice is a lot louder than others, I think. I attended a training course recently, and we did
a little bit of work on the inner critic. There were 120 people in the course, and everyone was
communicating over the chat box on Zoom, and when they moved on to the inner critic part,
they asked us, you know, we did a sort of self-reflection exercise on our critical voice, and you
were asked to identify it. Get to know it. Could you describe it?
And it was amazing the amount people that were like, “Yes, it’s me when I was ten,” or, “Oh, it’s
my mother,” or, “It’s my…” And… Really how intimately people knew it when they were
prompted in the right way, of going, “Where is that criticism coming from, and how can I
challenge it kindly?” So not shut it down. It’s there for a reason. Imagine a world where you
didn’t have a critic. We’d all be enormous egos. It’s there for a reason, but if it’s dominating,
what does it need? How can you sort of talk to it in a compassionate way to try and reduce that
criticism down so it’s not destabilizing for you, or paralyzing? Again, useful with a therapist.
Yes. Yeah. You’ll learn those things. Well, that does bring to me the question of what kind of tips
do you have for self-care for creatives and for keeping ourselves healthy and well in our mind
during normal being in this industry and also amidst a pandemic?
Yeah, I think I’ve said to you before that there’s… We’ve talked about a lot of this already, I think,
in the podcast.
I think so, yeah.
About self-care and setting boundaries, stepping away from the screen, finding the thing that
relaxes you. Don’t listen to your friend or Instagram or your parents who think you should be
doing the thing that works for them. I mean, it’s nice to get tips and advice, and you can take
that and try things, but it might not be the thing for you. So the important thing is when you
discover something that relaxes you, do that thing, because for everybody, it’s different. Like you
and I were talking about gardening. We only discovered that last year, and I find it so soothing,
and I can’t even really describe why. Sometimes, I can go for a run, and it can make me feel really
anxious, and other times, it can make me feel great, and it’s just knowing what I need in that
moment as well. So there’s not just one thing that works, it’s, “What do I need right now, in this
That’s always a really good question, “Is the thing that I’m about to do what my body is asking
for, or does it need to be something else?” Because sometimes we’re too exhausted to exercise,
but that’s often the go-to kind of thing, and maybe you just need to curl up and read a book or
cook yourself some nice, healthy food. It’s different for everybody, but just allowing yourself that
question, “What do I need right now in this moment to feel more stable?” or calmer, or whatever
it is that you’re going through, is that first step, I think. The self-care is every day. Something
every day to take care of yourself is really important.
That’s key, hearing you say “every day,” because I feel like often, we… go to the… “Oh, I guess I
should pause,” when you’re already at that state of almost at the end, almost about to burn out,
or almost about to break down, or whatever. You’re like, “Whoa, I should go to the gym, or I
should whatever…” But just like you say, with that peer-to-peer support, like, maybe schedule
yourself in. Like, “Okay, I’m gonna give myself… It doesn’t matter what time of the day, but I need
to give myself an hour to just do whatever feels right for today,” to give yourself that space.
Can people from Canada or around the world reach out to you if they find what you’ve said in
this episode helpful and maybe want to work with you on the therapy side of things?
Yeah. Yeah, they absolutely can. You could… I’m a little bit active on Instagram, I guess. You can
contact me that way, but my email is on my website, filminmind.co.uk. I couldn’t get .com,
annoyingly. So yeah, I can be contacted that way. I’m hoping to have some other therapists that I
can work with soon, because I’m getting very busy. But yeah, if you know of any
editors-turned-therapists out there, then let me know. Maybe we should have somebody
specifically with it.
That would be amazing! Hey, any listeners out there who are editors-turned-therapists, we have
a new colleague.
Yeah, yeah, exactly. I mean, it’s a natural progression, it seems. I think I’ve used this phrase quite
a lot, but I do find that this industry naturally attracts people who are very compassionate and
caring, so I’m not surprised often that a lot of people who’ve worked in the creative roles end up
moving into therapy.
Well, there’s a thing that a lot of editors say, is that the edit suite is a therapy room, because we
deal with the emotions and feelings of the directors we work with, and so in a way, yeah. We’ve
already listening to everybody’s problems. We obviously don’t have the training, which is why it’s
important to talk about this stuff.
That’s an interesting thing to bring up, Sarah, and I don’t know if you were about to close there,
but just the idea of caring for others as well, because it’s not just the subject matter that you’re
sitting with. It is the fact that you’re often sitting in the room as the person that the director can
talk to about what they’re going through, and that is exhausting. You are sitting in the therapist’s
chair then, but without anywhere to take it, and you can’t be that person for the director as well
as working through all of that footage. I mean, of course a relationship needs to be established,
but when we’re talking about boundaries, that needs to be really clear as well in that
relationship, because it has to be healthy and working. So if it’s exhausting you, then maybe
there needs to be a conversation about where else you can both get some extra support from.
Yeah. I think it’s interesting, because in the doc world, often the filmmaker can be part of the
documentary, right? They’re the ones that… they’re searching for whatever answers there are.
And so I’ve definitely experienced seeing directors work through their own stuff as… It is a form
of therapy for them to tell the story that they’ve been meaning to tell or wanting to tell, and they
go through a transformation. And you, as their editor, you’re joining them. You’re seeing it
happen. You’re seeing it unfold.
And I know for myself, it’s hard not to take some of that on, because I think in some ways, too,
some of the personalities of people who are in the role of editor, we do feel emotion deeply, and
which is, I think, why we’re drawn to this type of work. So, yeah..What we’ve talked about, I
think, is really helpful that you know. Acknowledge that that’s happening. Ask the questions, or
ask for help. Or, yeah, set the boundary, like, “I can’t talk about this right now. I’m not in the right
space to talk about this right now,” or whatever it might need to be. But to know that you have
control to do that and that it’s safe for you.
Yeah. Something about it being… “Oh, this feels like a bigger conversation outside of what we
need to achieve today, so how can this happen for you?” Because you’re working with the
director at their most vulnerable, I think, in the edit room. Their whole film is sitting there before
them. The both of you are responsible for putting it together, and they’re bringing all of their
emotion and sometimes years and years of filming that material into the room.
Yeah. These are the things that we maybe don’t realize, don’t think about, don’t talk about, but
have a huge impact on what we deal with and go through every day.
I don’t know. Maybe for some people, because we haven’t been able to have in-person edit
sessions with our directors and whatever this year as often, maybe… I’m curious if people have
noticed a difference in how they feel, because maybe they’re not having to have that role of
therapist to the person anymore, and that kind of thing.
Wonder if you’ve experienced increased anxiety from your directors for being…
Farther?! In some ways, people have had to adjust, and then it’s also a moment where people
are like, “Oh, it does work. It’s okay. We can still do this. It’s okay.” And I feel like for me, I like to
work alone on stuff, and then I’ve had people who… “No, I want to sit with you for the eight
hours,” and I’m like, “But I don’t like that…” And now, it’s like, “Oh, no, she can still do the job,”
or, “We can still get it done,” and schedule two hours to do the thing. But every editor’s
different, and every director/producer’s different.
But I know for myself during this whole thing of the pandemic and also being a freelancer for…
I’ve been working on my own for almost 12 years, and so I know how I work, and I know how I
operate now, and having this time to really just be like, “No, this is how I need to do things, and
this is good, and I’m glad that I know…” It’s kind of given me more confidence, in a way, to be
like, This is how I can get things done at the best that I can get them, and now I have had the
time to figure it out, and that’s good. And, so just letting ourselves have the time and to not have
to take every project on and be constantly working, to give the time to actually look inside.
Yeah. And then ask for what you need as well..
State the terms for how you are at your most productive and your most creative and your best.
I think that’s the biggest thing I learned recently, was to say, “I work the best by doing this, and
to provide you the best edit, this is how I can do it for you. And if that works for you, then we can
work together. If that doesn’t work for you, then maybe I’m not the editor for you.” But to allow
yourself to… And sometimes, you can’t do that. Sometimes you need to take a job because you
need the money, but to know what your ideal is and to be able to voice that.
Yeah. But normally, you find that the more confident you are about that, people have a lot of
faith in that. They really do.
Totally. Well, this has been really enlightening, and you’ve given me some things to think about. I
just want to thank you for taking the time.
You’re welcome. Thank you so much for having me.
It’s been fantastic. Thank you so much, and I will make sure that I link your website into the show
notes, and hopefully, you don’t get too much more busy, but yes. Thank you for supporting our
Yeah. No, if anyone needs to reach out for some advice. That’s always welcome. It’s always good
to hear from people, and the aim is for this type of support to become really normal and
standard practice within our industry, so the more we’re talking about it, the more we’re
reaching out, and the more support I can provide for people, the better, really. This is just the
beginning of it. So..Yeah.
Awesome. Well, thank you so much.
Thanks for having me. It was really nice to talk.
Thanks so much for joining us today, and a big thank you goes to Rebecca for sharing such
wonderful information. If you would like to learn more about Rebecca, head to her website at
www.filminmind.co.uk. Another great resource here in Canada is called Calltime: Mental Health.
The site has a learning center where you can take online courses about mental health as well as
many resources. Links to help with general mental health, depression, anxiety, sleep, alcohol and
addiction, suicide, and BiPOC and LGBTQ+ resources. There’s loads of information. Just head to
calltimementalhealth.com. Special thanks goes to Jane MacRae. The main title sound design was
created by Jane Tattersall, additional ADR recording by Andrea Rusch. Original music provided by
Chad Blain. This episode was mixed and mastered by Tony Bao.
The CCE has been supporting Indspire – an organization that provides funding and scholarships to
Indigenous post secondary students. We have a permanent portal on our website at cceditors.ca
or you can donate directly at indspire.ca. The CCE is taking steps to build a more equitable
ecosystem within our industry and we encourage our members to participate in any way they
If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts and tell your friends
to tune in. ‘Til next time I’m your host Sarah Taylor.
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