Episode 045 - Mental Health with Rebecca Day

Episode 45: Mental Health with Rebecca Day

It’s been one year since our worlds have changed and we thought it was a good time to check in on our mental health.

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!

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Sarah Taylor:

This episode is generously sponsored by IATSE 891.

Sarah Taylor:

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

from, are part of ancestral territory. It is important for all of us to deeply acknowledge that we

are on ancestral territory that has long served as a place where indigenous peoples have lived,

met, and interacted. We honor, respect, and recognize these nations that have never

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.

Sarah Taylor:

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.

[show open]

Sarah Taylor:

Rebecca Day, thank you so much for joining us today. You’re based in London, is that correct?

Rebecca Day:

Well, actually in the Lake District in the north of England. It’s not in a city, which is lovely.

Sarah Taylor:

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?

Rebecca Day:

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

that level.

Rebecca Day:

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.

Rebecca Day:

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.

Rebecca Day:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

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.

Rebecca Day:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

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?

Rebecca Day:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

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?

Rebecca Day:

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.

Rebecca Day:

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.

Rebecca Day:

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.

Rebecca Day:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

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.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah, absolutely.

Sarah Taylor:

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

pandemic?

Rebecca Day:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

Yes.

Rebecca Day:

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

hard.

Rebecca Day:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

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.

Rebecca Day:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

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.

Rebecca Day:

You’re welcome.

Sarah Taylor:

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?

Rebecca Day:

Yeah. I mean, it’s easier said than done, isn’t it? But just set your working hours.

Sarah Taylor:Yes

Rebecca Day:

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

feels critical.

Rebecca Day:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

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…

Rebecca Day:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

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.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

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?

Rebecca Day:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

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.

Rebecca Day:

Me too. Yeah, it was last year for me as well. Through the lockdown.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, the lockdown brought out all sorts of things that we could invest in or look into.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah, yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

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?

Rebecca Day:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

I don’t think I’ve ever heard that phrase, so tell us. Tell us more.

Rebecca Day:

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.

Rebecca Day:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

So if you notice those things, any of those four, I think you said, what should you do?

Rebecca Day:

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

you. Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

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.”

Rebecca Day:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah. It’s a step towards normalizing it, isn’t it?

Sarah Taylor:

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.

Rebecca Day:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

For sure!

Rebecca Day:

To reduce that, you might be working at 75% of your capacity rather than 50%.

Sarah Taylor:

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.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

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.

Rebecca Day:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sarah Taylor:

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.

Rebecca Day:

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.

Rebecca Day:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

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

stuff.

Rebecca Day:

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

zone?”

Sarah Taylor:

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?

Rebecca Day:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

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?

Rebecca Day:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

I think so, yeah.

Rebecca Day:

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

moment?”

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.

Sarah Taylor:

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.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

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?

Rebecca Day:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

That would be amazing! Hey, any listeners out there who are editors-turned-therapists, we have

a new colleague.

Rebecca Day:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

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.

Rebecca Day:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

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.

Rebecca Day:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

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.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

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.

Rebecca Day:

Wonder if you’ve experienced increased anxiety from your directors for being…

Sarah Taylor:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

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.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah. And then ask for what you need as well..

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, yeah.

Rebecca Day:

State the terms for how you are at your most productive and your most creative and your best.

Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

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.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah. But normally, you find that the more confident you are about that, people have a lot of

faith in that. They really do.

Sarah Taylor:

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.

Rebecca Day:

You’re welcome. Thank you so much for having me.

Sarah Taylor:

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

community.

Rebecca Day:

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.

Sarah Taylor:

Awesome. Well, thank you so much.

Rebecca Day:

Thanks for having me. It was really nice to talk.

Sarah Taylor:

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

can.

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.

[Outtro]

The CCE is a non-profit organization with the goal of bettering the art and science of picture

editing. If you wish to become a CCE member please visit our website www.cceditors.ca. Join our

great community of Canadian editors for more related info.

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Credits

A special thanks goes to

Jane MacRae

Jana Spinola

Hosted, Produced and Edited by

Sarah Taylor

Main Title Sound Design by

Jane Tattersall

ADR Recording by

Andrea Rusch

Mixed and Mastered by

Tony Bao

Original Music by

Chad Blain

Sponsor Narration by

Paul Winestock

Sponsored by

IATSE 891

en_CAEN

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