Ep167: A Contract Isn’t Going to Change Our Lives…It’s Up to Us to Create Change | Mastermind Q&A

» Click to read the full transcript

How many times have you worked on a project that set an impossible schedule and you felt responsible for meeting ridiculous demands? How many times have you met those demands hoping you would be rewarded for the amazing feat you accomplished…only to be asked to do it again tomorrow except faster, better, and cheaper? These situations have unfortunately become the rule instead of the exception which is why I often say that Hollywood is where yesterday’s miracle becomes today’s expectation.

Today’s episode is a very candid community Q & A on the topic of setting boundaries and expectations. I gathered my Optimizer coaching & mentorship students to have a frank and honest discussion about the realities we’re facing on the job and how we can take action to ensure that our time & expertise are not being exploited. As daunting as it may seem, change will only happen from the bottom up – we cannot rely on union contracts to set the boundaries for us from the top down (because frankly a lot of the boundaries we need are already in writing, they are just exploited, ignored, and outright abused).

Change happens one person at a time, but if we’re all going to collectively change the toxic work culture in the entertainment industry, we’ll have to lock arms and do it together – across guilds, crafts, union and non-union alike. This conversation is all about the practical steps we can take to create a better future for ourselves and the next generation of artists, filmmakers, and storytellers who will come after us.

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Here’s What You’ll Learn:

  • Jeff Castellucio shares a recent story of an unreasonable schedule for a movie he worked on.
  • Our thoughts on why unreasonable schedules and deadlines keep happening.
  • The inherent problem with working freelance jobs and how our anger is often misplaced.
  • Phil Habeger shares how he struggles between wanting to set boundaries and wanting to deliver and be a team player.
  • Understanding the psychology behind our guilt despite knowing that it’s not our fault.
  • How the content machine is killing us all.
  • Anything less than ‘eager optimism’ makes us the problem.
  • The unrealistic expectations become a challenge and we get stuck in a cycle of trying to be the hero.
  • How do we balance the idea that when we start our careers we have to do extra work to prove ourselves but once we “make it” we are expected to know how to set boundaries?
  • KEY TAKEAWAY: Remember the triangle of good, fast, cheap: pick 2.
  • Red flags to look for before taking a job.
  • Questions to ask in the interview for a job to help determine what the environment will be like.
  • The difference between being taken advantage of and “paying your dues”.
  • The problem of being exploited and taken advantage of in the workplace.
  • We need to set up systems for ourselves so that we have the stability and security to say no to the people who take advantage of us.
  • Paul Del Vecchio tells a story of how he set a boundary and it worked out in his favor.
  • How I handle unrealistic schedules and talk to producers about making a workable solution.
  • The three takeaways and solutions discussed to setting boundaries and making real change.
  • Matt Nix chimes in with a show runner’s perspective to underscore how important it is to work with the right people.

Useful Resources Mentioned:

IATSE Stories (@ia_stories) • Instagram photos and videos

(7) IATSE Contract Forum | Repeat after me: “Your inability to properly budget and schedule this project is not my problem.” | Facebook

Ep75: The Four Tendencies’ (aka ‘The Matrix’ For Understanding Yourself & Others) | with Gretchen Rubin

Ep113: The Importance of Setting Boundaries, Advocating For Yourself, and Asking For Help | with Janace Tashjian

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Episode Transcript

Zack Arnold 0:00

My name is Zack Arnold, I'm a Hollywood film and television editor, a documentary director, father of two, an American Ninja Warrior in training and the creator of Optimize Yourself. For over 10 years now I have obsessively searched for every possible way to optimize my own creative and athletic performance. And now I'm here to shorten your learning curve. Whether you're a creative professional who edits, writes or directs, you're an entrepreneur, or even if you're a weekend warrior, I strongly believe you can be successful without sacrificing your health, or your sanity in the process. You ready? Let's design the optimized version of you.

Hello, and welcome to the Optimize Yourself podcast. If you're a brand new optimizer, I welcome you and I sincerely hope that you enjoy today's conversation. If you're inspired to take action after listening today, why not tell a friend about the show and help spread the love? And if you're a longtime listener and optimizer O.G. welcome back. Whether you're brand new, or you're seasoned vets, if you have just 10 seconds today, it would mean the world to me if you clicked the subscribe button in your podcast app of choice, because the more people that subscribe, the more that iTunes and the other platforms can recognize this show. And thus the more people that you and I can inspire, to step outside their comfort zones to reach their greatest potential. And now on to today's show.

How many times have you worked on a project that set an impossible schedule and you felt responsible for meeting ridiculous demands? How many times have you met those demands, hoping that you will be rewarded for the amazing feat that you just accomplished, only to be asked to do it again tomorrow, except faster, better, and of course cheaper. These situations have unfortunately become the rule instead of the exception, which is why I often say that Hollywood is where yesterday's miracle becomes today's expectation. Today's episode is a very candid community q&a. On the topic of setting boundaries and expectations. I gathered my Optimizer Coaching and Mentorship students to have a frank and honest discussion about the realities that we're facing on the job and how we can take action to ensure that our time and our expertise are not being exploited. As daunting as it might seem, change is only going to happen from the bottom up. We cannot rely on union contracts to set the boundaries for us from the top down. Because frankly, a lot of the boundaries that we need are already in writing. They are just exploited, ignored and outright abused. Change happens one person at a time. But if we are all going to collectively change the toxic work culture in the entertainment industry, we are going to have to lock arms and do it together across guilds, crafts, union and non-union alike. This conversation is all about the practical steps that we can take to create a better future for ourselves and the next generation of artists, filmmakers and storytellers who will come after us. If today's conversation inspires you to take action, pursue more fulfilling work and design a more balanced life without sacrificing your health, your relationships or your sanity in the process then I invite you to subscribe to my brand new weekly newsletter that I'm calling Your Cure for the Case of the Mondays. Every Monday morning I will share with you my favorite resources, mindset strategies, and practical tips to give you more energy so you can be more productive and so you can optimize every facet of your life, such that you no longer dread the week ahead. But instead, you can't wait for the next Monday morning to start all over again. To subscribe and become the newest member of the revolution, Simply visit optimizeyourself.me/newsletter Alright without further ado my candid conversation with the Optimizer Community made possible today by our amazing sponsor Ergodriven who is going to be featured just a bit later in today's interview. To access the show notes for this and all previous episodes as well as to subscribe so you don't miss the next inspirational interview, please visit optimizeyourself.me/podcast

I'm here today with my wonderful amazing and inspirational Optimizer Coaching and Mentorship Community. I've got a whole slew of my students here. And we are going to have a very important timely conversation about setting boundaries and setting realistic expectations and how do we make sure that we can put our well being and our needs first without severely getting taken advantage of, as I had mentioned to my community before we went on the record officially, it just happens to be a coincidence that this topic of conversation today is happening on the eve of what is potentially going to be the most historic strike in the history of the entertainment industry and specifically in Hollywood. We had this on the calendar anyway we talked about this weeks ago, because this is a topic that we've been discussing For years and years and years, as many of my students that are on this call, no. But for anybody that is listening to this, that is not a part of the community or not aware of it. We have been talking for years about how do we better understand what are our goals? And how do we pursue work that fulfills us, and surround us with people that are going to value us and respect us. Unfortunately, that seems to be the minority of how people live and work, especially in the entertainment industry. And I would say that this is also largely just amongst all industries, and in general culture, there's a very high percentage of people that are doing work that does not fulfill them that, frankly, they hate. And I'm hoping that I can be a small part of lending a hand in changing that. And we're going to discuss today, this idea of boundaries, unrealistic expectations, and what can we do so that we are not taken advantage of, as everybody that is on this call already knows, and anybody that listens to this podcast regularly knows, I have been standing on the same giant soapbox for seven years, trying to explain to people and shed light on the fact that this is a problem, these hours and these working conditions, these expectations. And guess what I'm very excited to share. I don't need to talk about this anymore. You know, like, What are you talking about? Everybody now knows that this is a problem. And everybody is ready to fight back. So I don't feel like I need to keep saying the things I've been saying anymore. Because now everybody is saying them which I love, where I want to be a value and support. And the reason I have all of you here with me today is because I want us to start talking about solutions. How can we take responsibility? How can we take control? And how can we individually one person at a time, start to change the culture and create this paradigm shift? Because one of the the spoiler alerts, and it's not necessarily the most optimistic perspective, but I'm just going to share what I think is going to be our new reality, no matter what the contract is, that ends up being ratified, whether it's going to be in two days. And by the time that this release is early next week, we're already going to know whether or not there's a strike. But whether or not there's a contract in two days, in two weeks or two months, I guarantee it's not going to be what everybody wants, it's not going to be the giant paradigm shift, where all of a sudden, we are all instantly respected. And we're working eight hour days, and we have bankers hours from nine to five, and we get to see our family every single evening, those things are just not going to happen. Even with a new contract, whatever the incremental changes, that moves forwards, however much we do move the needle, I guarantee it's not going to be enough. So it's still going to be up to us individually to take responsibility for protecting ourselves and protecting the other people around us on a team level. And wherever it makes sense as far as the people that you're working with. So here's where I want to start the conversation. And once again, this was totally coincidental. I just had posted this a few days ago. Or maybe it was even yesterday, it all kind of blends together. I spent way too much time on social media, hate social media. But I've been living and breathing these articles, these Facebook posts, I've read hundreds and hundreds of comments, just to really get inside people's heads in people's minds to understand the tenor of things. And I think the best way to start this conversation is to share a post that I put in one of the internal union organizations either yesterday or the day before. And my post was and you can imagine that this was me starting a nice little brush fire. Repeat after me. Your inability to properly budget and schedule this project is not my problem. Yeah, I think a lot of us have heard a phrase similar to this. And I want to start the conversation there. So for anybody that wants to share that's on this call, who wants to talk about a situation where the requirements or the expectations or deadlines put upon you were so ridiculous, even from day one I'm not talking about at the last minute things change and you're in the trenches, and you got to figure it out. I mean, from morning one, have a job. You look at the schedule, you look at the budgets, you look at the deadlines, and you think you got to be kidding me. You're setting us up for failure from the first morning. Anybody want to jump in and share an anecdote or a story to get this conversation started about scenarios in which we've been asked to do the impossible, and it was scheduled that way. Mr. Jeff Castelluccio

Jeffrey Castelluccio 9:10

I just want to thank you very much. Thanks for doing this Zack as always, Debby. Hello, everybody. Yeah, there's been two there's two specific projects, projects that I got on got the scheduled day one, and they're telling me that the shoot was like four or five weeks, and they needed a cut in a total of nine weeks. I'm like, You're kidding me right now. You know, I told you pm I told the producers we're not going a day under 17 weeks, 18 weeks, and they're like, Yeah, that's not happening. I told them look, it's you know, we'll have product but it's not something you're gonna be proud of. It's not something you're gonna show and it's not something you're gonna be able to sell. And sure enough, mark my words. It lasted 18 weeks both projects.

Zack Arnold 9:52

I'm shocked. Yeah, you're kidding. You weren't, you actually weren't able to deliver in nine weeks really

Jeffrey Castelluccio 9:58

Unbelievable right Zack and You know, that you know, and I've gotten, you know, in the past, I've gotten a lot of attitude from certain upms, you know, and caused some problems between me and the producer that I'm telling the producer, I don't know what I'm talking about, and puts my position in, in jeopardy. But you know, I have 16 years of experience of editing. And so I was able to back that up, but like, you know, these, these productions are getting smaller, every by every shoot. And, you know, that's why we're all here where the demands put upon us is just outrageous. And it on top of it, they didn't even want to give me an assistant editor for the full time.

Zack Arnold 10:36

So you're supposed to do it in a half the amount of time allowed with half the help. Yeah, doing two jobs. Exactly. What was their explanation for all this? Out of curiosity,

Jeffrey Castelluccio 10:44

they would just say, Well, that's the budget. That's what we that's what we scheduled. And I said, Well, no offense, but you probably shouldn't be scheduling post production. Or you should at least talk to an editor before you scheduled post production, because you have no idea what you're talking about.

Zack Arnold 10:58

So let me ask you this. Did you ever hear the phrase, there is no more money?

Jeffrey Castelluccio 11:03

Of course, but they found it what,

Zack Arnold 11:05

but I was gonna ask was there more money,

Jeffrey Castelluccio 11:08

they found it miracIulously

Zack Arnold 11:09

They always find more money. Miraculously, it appears from out of nowhere, when they say there is no more money, it must be done in this amount of time. But then all of us it's not a matter of you went over a couple of days, you doubled the amount of time they thought that it was going to take going back to your original estimate. And somehow they found the money to do it. Exactly. And so this begs begs the question, we've talked about this on many a coaching call in the past both privately small groups and office hours, this idea of the four tendencies, everybody on this call that's worked with me knows that I am a questioner on steroids. The question that I always ask that gets me in a whole lot of trouble that gets me labeled as quote unquote, the difficult one is why? Why are we doing it this way? So I'm curious for anybody in the script that wants to share, why do you think we get set up for failure from day one with these ridiculous expectations and deadlines, when everybody already knows that we're never going to be able to do it? I'm not saying anybody needs the answer. We're just because we've all been through this. Why do you think we get put in this position?

Jeffrey Castelluccio 12:09

Well, because it because it was successful on one project, they think it's a cookie cutter situation, and they could get every project that way. Because they were able to squeeze one crew to do it in that short amount of time. They think, well, we got away with it once it can be done. We've done it before. And I've had that conversation with with producers and ups,

Zack Arnold 12:27

like I've said many, many times, and I still at some point, it's on my someday list, I want to create an entire line of T shirts and memorabilia and hoodies and coffee mugs that all say the following Hollywood is where yesterday's miracle becomes today's expectation, right? So when we deliver the impossible, we now move the goalposts and the people that we work for, say, oh, it can be done. So clearly, we can just do it this way every single day. And I think the slow erosion of moving the goalposts is how we got to the point where we are today is that we have let it slowly go further and further and further and further and further and further to the point where everybody is breaking in saying working harder is simply literally no longer an option, because it's killing people. For anybody that doesn't already know already. And I'm going to assume everybody knows about this both on this call, and that will be listening. But there is now an Instagram account called IA stories where it stories that has absolutely exploded in the last month or so, last time I checked, they're up to like 155,000 followers, which is pretty much this entire industry at this point in all classifications. But I just saw a post from somebody it was either last night or this morning, saying that because we are now potentially going to be striking. And everybody has to rush to get everything done. They're scheduling even longer days, they're scheduling people over the entire weekend. And a PA who had been up for God only knows how many hours got into a car accident and broke their leg just yesterday. It's like, hey, morons, don't you realize this is why we're striking. Like der, right? Is this not the reason that we're here in the first place, and they're just doubling down on this, which is why my prediction is and again, this prediction could be erroneous, erroneous, Lee wrong, by the time this comes out, and people are gonna laugh at me because we're recording this before we know what's happening on Friday afternoon. And by Monday or Tuesday, things could be completely different. But I think there's potential for a very long work stoppage, because they clearly just don't understand what this is about. They think well, you know, we told him, we were going to give them 2% In a scale increase in X amount of percentage in their pension and health plans from streaming residuals, let's add an extra half percent. That's not going to do it that's not going to change things. And I think that the fact that they are now pushing everybody as hard as humanly possible, when that's the whole reason that we're doing this just tells me there's a lack of real understanding of what the problem is and a lack of interest in addressing it. So the next question, oh, go ahead, Debby.

Debby 14:51

Yes, um, just to go back to why this keeps happening. I also think it's because the people who are initially making these schedules and Doing the budgets are not the people that are doing the work. So, in the end, by the time we get on, like, these schedules are already set, like they've already made these decisions. So we might say like, oh, I don't think this is gonna work out. But the fact is, is they've already kind of like written that off, like that's off their plate. And so us saying that at such a late date, because we come on too late, it it, it has very little weight in their mind. And so they just, they just keep moving. It just keeps getting pushed down. And, and then, you know, because we're freelance workers, we think, Okay, well, not going to do that project, again, are not going to work with these people again. And you've never really worked together to sort of solve something because we're all sort of in different realms, and we just figure, oh, we'll just move on to something else, instead of actually sticking around and fixing the problem.

Zack Arnold 15:54

Yeah, I would agree with that wholeheartedly. And one thing that I want to point out that I think is so important and overlooked. And at one point, I was thinking about actually writing an article about this. But the idea came to mind at like, 330 this morning, and I'm like, Man, I don't think I can write an entire article by noon today. So it might end up still becoming an article. But what I've been seeing a lot, and I think that this is wrong way to go about I've seen a ton of this on social media right now is hatred and animosity towards the direct people that we report to about these issues. And I think it's really important to understand that by and large, this isn't about the CO producer that runs your department. This isn't about the head of the entire department. It's definitely not about your showrunner, this is about somebody that's at an executive level at a studio that has never even set foot on a set has never been in a post production suite, they have no concept of how we do our jobs, or how long it takes. And all they look at our numbers and reports and spreadsheets. And their job is to be beholden to the shareholders and make money. So for us to get angry at the people that we report to and say, Oh, it's all about the producers. Are these greedy showrunners? Are these directors that can't schedule things properly? Like, yeah, sure. There, there are certainly issues that could be fixed on a production level on a coordination level. But at the end of the day, these ridiculous expectations are coming down from way much higher than any of the people that we want to blame it on. And one of the things that I just want to throw out there, and again, might be too late to throw this out, because this won't release until next week. But I've been saying to people privately that I've seen some posts where it's like, oh, yeah, I'm, I'm just going to leave my computer in disarray, or I'm going to make sure that they can't get into it, I'm, I'm going to sabotage it. So nobody else can take on my project. I'm like, Guys, you have to work with these people. And there's an agreement. These are people you probably like and people that you respect. And that's going to severely damage your reputation. And I believe that we need to be the bigger people here, we need to walk away. Like for me, I'm working as hard as I can to catch up on as much as I can at my job. Until this evening. I'm not being asked to wear Saturday or Sunday, because I work with people that respect us. And I work with a studio, that at least as far as my show is concerned, I can't speak to how they treat everybody else. But our show we are treated very much with respect by the superiors at our studio. So I don't have to work Saturday and Sunday. If I wake up on Monday morning, and we're on strike, I'm not going to be there available to help them and support them. But I'm also not going to sabotage their efforts. And I'm not going to walk away and try and burn all these bridges. Because eventually there will be an agreement and I have to work with these people again. And you all have to work with these people again. So I think it's really important to understand that a lot of the anger and animosity we have is not towards the direct people that might be our bosses that are saying you have to work these hours. They have somebody above them, who has somebody above them who has somebody above them that saying this is how it works. Which brings me again to this conversation of how did we get to this point. And there's a couple of quotes that I want to bring out that I've gotten tons and tons of responses to just this one post alone. That was in this union forum. But there's two of them that I want to start by highlighting and I want to dig into the the psychology of this a little bit deeper. One of the quotes was from a fellow editor and because it's a closed Facebook group, I'm gonna keep all this anonymous. But another editor that I don't know personally, but that I'm aware of the the response to my post about the fact that your inability to schedule on budget is not my problem. This person said yes. But it does become your problem. How many would agree with that, that as much as we just want to stand up? And we want to say, This isn't my problem? Is that my emergency? Yeah, it's great for an Instagram meme, or a Facebook post or a t shirt. But what do we actually do about it in that situation? I'm curious, knowing this is the reality. And knowing that many of us can very simply be labeled as the difficult ones. How many of you have felt this way, but at the end of the day, you still delivered show of hands? I'm surprised that not every single hand went up because my hand would be included in it. That I've I to have seen these ridiculous demands and expectations and said, This can't be done. But you know what? I'm going to figure it out. I'm going to do it anyway. Why do we do that? I know why I do it. I'm curious to hear from you. Why is it that when we know they're impossible to meet expectations? We still meet them. Ah Phil Yes, sir.

Phil Habeger 20:03

But I'm actually going through that. It's a very similar situation to that right now. Because the show that I'm on right now is has very unrealistic expectations. And I'm with a working with like, just great team of people. And they're all just kicking ass and like, doing all sorts of stuff. And I have really amazing support from the Assistant Editor from the story producers, which is rare to have good support from them, but they're just everybody's just kicking ass. And so if I'm like, Oh, I'm just gonna work 10 hours a day and stop there. And if I'm like, Oh, well, I can deliver this cut on time, because I'm just working a 50 hour week. And it's going to take more time than that to do this, then I feel like I'm the weak link in the chain. You know, I feel like all these people are out here like, you know, really working hard. And I'm just like, sloughing off, even though I'm, you know, even though I'm working, you know, 50 hours. I feel like that's sloughing off. So is this kind of internal pressure of like, oh, well, you know, I want to set boundaries. But at the same time, I don't want to feel like I'm letting everybody else down.

Zack Arnold 21:23

Show of hands. How many of you have felt the same way where I know this is a problem. But I don't want to be the weak link in the chain. And I don't want to be seen as the weak one that can't deliver just about for anybody that's listening, pretty much everybody's hand is up that at least has their camera on. And I'm not surprised by that at all. So let's dig into this a little bit deeper. First of all, based on our conversations already. Logistically, where's the weakest link in the chain? In this scenario right now with where you are now, what is the weakest link in the chain? There's not necessarily a person. But what is creating the what is the number one source of the challenge that you have right now with being able to deliver what needs to be delivered?

Phil Habeger 22:03

I think just time, you know, I mean, it's the schedule. And I know enough, as an editor, just communicate as much as possible when you're up against a schedule that you can't meet, you know, just get out ahead of it and say, Look, I don't think this is going to happen. I don't think we're going to deliver this cut in time. You know, I need to do this, and this and this. And there's just not enough time to do that. And when I bring those stuff that stuff up to the showrunner, he's like, Yeah, I know, this is an ongoing discussion with the production company, and with the people at network, I've told them over and over that this isn't, you know, this is an unrealistic schedule, and we just have to deliver the best product, we can, you know, just do the best we can. So that's what I've done. But I feel like the weak link is the person who created this schedule, you know, I mean, that's where my aggression guts, you know, when I get frustrated about like, oh, here I am, again, you know, working into the night, I've been able to keep my boundaries pretty well. But at the same time, there's, there's definitely like, I'm just working at night longer than I should be. But when I feel that aggression, and I get angry about working long hours, then it goes towards whoever it was created to schedule wherever it was, it said, Oh, we don't have the money to give you more days on the schedule.

Zack Arnold 23:27

So logically, you already know what the problem is. Oh, yeah. You know that it's not you, right? Yeah. Oh, yeah. So then emotionally, why do you why do you take responsibility? Why are you emotionally taking responsibility for this?

Phil Habeger 23:39

Yeah, I think it's worse in this situation than any other because I respect to be loved worker with and they're all good at what they do. And it's just kind of this thing of like, I don't know why I I feel like if I was to stick to my boundaries, and even just, I almost feel like sometimes for spite, not doing things on purpose, because I want, I don't want to keep pushing this thing forward that I know is just gonna set another benchmark for some guy discovery is going to be like, Oh, well, they did it with this amount of money in this amount of weeks. So let's try that on my next show.

Zack Arnold 24:18

No, no, let's not only try it on my next show. Let's try it faster with less money. Yeah, that's the erosion. It's not just let's do the same thing. They delivered a miracle. Let's see if they could do even more of a miracle. Yeah, right. But I really want to dig even deeper into this emotional feeling because I would venture to guess that of this entire group. I'm back in gallery view so I can see all of you show of hands how many of you legitimately take responsibility and feel like it's your fault? That things cannot be delivered on time? No hands went up. Oh, feel so you legitimately feel that it is your responsibility? And it's your problem? And it's because of you that things are not getting delivered on time. Okay, so maybe my I was gonna say maybe my my question is worded a little bit awkward. But the point being that logically, we all know that it's not our problem. We all know that this is because of insane schedules and deadlines and budgets. But I want to dig into the emotional side. Because logic and emotion are two very different systems. How many of you still feel guilty and feel the pressure? That it's all on me? And I need to figure it out. This is why we're here. Do you think it's an accident that we all feel this way? Do you think it's just this weird, common coincidence that people that are on this call that are all over the country and I have people in this community all over the world, if you've been in the small group conversations, if you've been on a call during office hours, I've had multiple students that have said the same thing. We're all dealing with the same problems. And we have somebody that's from Ireland, and somebody from the Netherlands and people that are in Australia, New York and LA, they're all over. For those of you that have been to office hours regularly, is it seriously not the same conversation over and over and over and over? It's it sounds like the exact same conversation? It's not an accident that we feel this way? Why is it? Do you think that we feel this way? I'm curious, Chris.

Chris Patterson 26:05

I mean, we've been conditioned to feel this way we've been doing it for I've been doing it for 22 years. And that's how my brain is wired now,

Zack Arnold 26:14

the word I was looking for is exactly what you said, we have been conditioned. I want to add a layer to that I don't think it's only that we've been conditioned, I think it's that we have been indoctrinated to believe that it is all on us to take the responsibility. Because that's how the current system works. If we suddenly believe that it's not on us, and we don't have to take responsibility, and this is not our problem, well, then the whole system falls apart unless they actually fix the source of the problem. Which is, for at the at the end of the day, I think that the majority of the issues, not all of them, but I think the majority of the things we're fighting for right now would be fixed. If we changed one variable in this equation time. You just allow people more time, and everybody's life changes. And I don't have the data in front of you right now off the top of my head. But I wrote about this at some point last year, where there was an extensive amount of research done by experienced line producers on the production side of things that do budgets from major tentpole movies in the hundreds of millions of dollars. And they proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that extending a schedule saves money. Everybody thinks, well, we can't extend the schedule, there's no more money, right? It's going to cost us more, it's actually cheaper to extend a schedule. So I don't think anybody have any ideas why they don't just extend the schedules, if it actually saves the money. If this is all about the bottom line, Matthew Farrugia, good to see you. By the way,

Matthew Farrugia 27:36

Good to see you too Zack, probably just to get the product out faster to throw it to audiences, you know, just consume, consume, consume,

Zack Arnold 27:44

nailed it. I could not have said it better myself. It's all about how quickly can create the most amount of content and get it out there. So people can consume it, and consume it, and consume it. And guess who the casualties are of that entire system. It's everybody on this call times 50,000 or more, and then all the people that are in their lives as well. So that one decision cost, the the livelihoods and everything else that we're talking about these negotiations, hundreds of 1000s of people are making sacrifices just so there's more content, just out of curiosity, has anybody watched everything that's on Netflix? Anybody here that's watched every show and movie and documentaries on Netflix or Hulu, Disney plus, like, I don't know about you, maybe 50 years ago, we could use more content, I kind of feel like we're good right now. I feel like if I were to take a break from life, and I were just to watch TV 24/7 I'm pretty sure I couldn't watch everything. By the time I was dead if I lived a long and healthy life, which coincidentally or paradoxically, I probably wouldn't live a very long and healthy life if I spent 24/7 watching all the content probably die pretty early and pretty fast. The point being that this is all about the amount of content that that people want to create and constantly churn out. And there's another post another one of the comments that I got that I think is a really insightful comment that wasn't disagreeing with my post about this idea that your emergency or your inability to properly budget and plan is my problem. But I think this really shines a light on what we're talking about. And I want to dig into this a little bit deeper. Again, I'll keep it anonymous. But he says and I'm not going to read the whole thing. It's a fairly long post, but I'll at least read the most important part of it. He says the problem tends to be that even if you have this meme, poor planning on your part does not constitute a crisis on mine. Whenever that very moment happens, and you pointed out and I love this part of it, you become the turd in the Punchbowl couldn't have said it better myself. The only official industry sanction response to incompetent management is eager optimism, anything less and that somehow is going to make you the problem. Which again brings us back to this idea of conditioning when this problem comes down from the top and as I always say that at least for those of us that are on this call. We're for the most part all working in post production and my hope is that people that are listening to this or outside of post in production and elsewhere, but uh least in post production, I've been making the joke for years, that in Hollywood, the rolls downhill, and we're the janitors at the bottom. So why shouldn't it be on us to be the ones that become the heroes, they get to clean up the mess? How many of you have ever gotten some ridiculous expectation schedule budget otherwise, and you did follow through, and you just felt amazing about it. Okay, so everybody raise their hands. And I'm keeping my raise, not as an example, because I too have done this, where when I, in the moment, I was given some ridiculous impossible expectation. And I saw it as a challenge. Guess what I get to do right now, I get to prove myself. And then by proving myself, the rewards will come after, they're going to recognize my worth. And maybe I'll get a raise, or maybe you'll get a promotion. Or maybe this is going to lead to a much bigger and better job. How many of you have had that thought where this is going to be the thing that I do where I really am in the trenches, but approves myself, and then all of a sudden my career changes? So everybody leave your hands up, that had your hands up. Now, everybody keep your hand up, if that's how it worked out? Oh, a lot of hands just dropped. In fact, I believe every single one of them dropped. Because now we've set the new expectation. The new expectation is, yeah, I'll achieve your miracle. But what you realize is,

they were just taking advantage of me Hold on a second. This wasn't about me proving myself I was just being taken advantage of. How many of you realized afterwards from the circumstance, whether it was a day later, a month later, or a year later? Hold on a second. This was just about them taking advantage of me and my time and my expertise? Anybody? Yeah. So I think most of us have had that realization, realization at some point. And my guess is that a lot of the people that are listening or watching this have probably had a similar realization as well. So my question is, and I'm not sure I have the answer, but that's really what all this preamble about. What do we do about it? That's it. That's my whole question. What do we do about it? How do we change this, it's not going to change overnight. And like I said, as much as we all want it to a contract does not change this problem, either.

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Zack Arnold 32:58

When people think of protein powders they think, well, I don't want to get big and bulky. And that's not what this is about. To me this is about repair.

Kit Perkins 33:05

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Zack Arnold 33:38

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Zack Arnold 34:10

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How do we change this mentality Patrick

Patrick Lawrence 34:37

Hello I don't think I have the answer. But I did want to kind of throw it out there that I think that a lot of the times when I find myself in this position. It's because of opportunity or false opportunity that I'm placing on myself that I think that like this is going to be the thing that then pushes me forward until I do the impossible task and then it's kind of like, wow, you're the best. Wow, you're so great, you're amazing. And then nothing, you know. And so it does become this cycle where you're just constantly chasing after like, what's the next big thing that's gonna get me up the ladder? And then you get handed this pile of expectations. So you're like, okay, yeah, I can take that on. And I can do that. And maybe this will get me to where I want to be, and then it doesn't. And so I personally find myself constantly stuck in that cycle. And yeah, to answer your question, I don't know how to get out of it, which is partly why I joined this community.

Zack Arnold 35:41

And I'm not sure that I had the answer, either. I'm not going to pretend that I do. I have some suggestions that we can talk about more. But Debby, your hand went up. So I'm gonna let you interject first.

Debby 35:50

Yeah, so thank you, just piggybacking on what Patrick just said, I think we're also when we come into the business, that's kind of how we're conditioned to write when you're just starting,

Zack Arnold 36:01

Indoctrinated. By the way, we're not conditioned, we're indoctrinated. But go on

Debby 36:05

Exactly. I mean, that's how and I, I fully admit, that's kind of the advice we give here as well, when you're just starting in your career, you have to go above and beyond, you have to make a good impression. So do more work. Like we, we tell people this? This is kind of how we prove ourselves and, and get anywhere, right? So how do we balance those two? How do we how do we tell people Oh, this is what you need to do, to get noticed and make good impressions. And, you know, like, prove your worth. But then once you get there, now you suddenly have to set boundaries. And but that's not how we were conditioned. And we were now think that we're in competition with everyone around us. So it feels like it's too late at that point.

Zack Arnold 36:57

Yeah, I think that's a really, really good point. Anybody else want to add to that? I'd certainly have thoughts. I'm while you guys are talking amongst yourself, I have another giant soapbox. I'm gonna drag from my other room. I've actually built an addition on my house that's holding all of my soap boxes right now. But is there anybody else who wants to add to this because I have a lot of thoughts. But I want to get a little bit more community interjection before I dive into this, Ian, good to see you. By the way, it's been a while.

Ian Levin 37:20

So I think the way the answer or the thought to how is the mentality of being able to understand what this conversation is alluding to, is that we should go in there knowing they're going to have us be burdened by high expectations, fast turnaround times. And remembering those three points of the triangle. Good, cheap, fast,

Zack Arnold 37:55

Dude you stole my soapbox. Even you've been listening to me too long. It's exactly what I was gonna say Go on,

Ian Levin 38:02

allow it is a leeway into what we're going to continue the conversation. And you want it fast? Okay, well, it's not gonna be all that good. It may not be all that right? either. You want, right? Well, you got to allow the time to make it happen. The studios, the producer, the well, I don't want to say the producers, but the business people who are funding this, that's a lot of money to fund what we're worth and what we're being paid. It's not like you're impoverished, you can get the funding if you need to, and giving the business side of what they're going through. If they're going to borrow, they're borrowing pretty big. Unless this is like an independent film, which will take more time and it's like, okay, I really am connected to this story. I want to contribute to it. That's a whole nother conversation, another commitment. But in our every day, well, not every day, but are the usual jobs, the majority of them were we're working these extremely long hours to make it happen. Yeah, we want to make it happen. We want to meet your expectations, but you got to make sure your expectations are in reason. And that, for me, at least, is why this strike or maybe even a movement is happening.

Zack Arnold 39:30

Yeah, I would agree with all that. And I want to come back to this idea of fast, cheap and good. Anybody that's in this program has heard me say this incessantly over and over and over, it's impossible to have all three you have to pick two. And this, this is going to be just kind of like me brainstorming like a laundry list of we're going to turn this into a five step list of what can we do about this? I think the first one comes before you ever take the job. This is something that I'm very, very keen about. Whenever I'm going to take a job I need to understand What are the expectations? What is the schedule? What is the budget look like and I'm always looking for red flags. This is actually something that I talked about fairly extensively in detail, where I walked through piece by piece by piece, the cold interview that I scheduled with the three show runners and creators of Cobra Kai, were ended up getting the job. And I went in there, they didn't even know who I was, I basically completely, like, pushed myself into that room, because I knew that I could be a good fit. And I spent most of the time interviewing them. And what I was looking for were red flags, red flags, like, Oh, it's a crazy schedule, but don't worry, you're gonna get paid a ton of overtime, etc, etc, etc. And I was asking them questions about their process, do they have family do they have kids like, there are some showrunners. And this is now becoming more and more prevalent, where they will do their thing during the day as a showrunner, whether they're on set, whether they're in the office, and then when their day is over eight 9:10pm, that's when they hit the edit suites. Their editors have been there all day long, doing their 12 hour a day, then they show up and the editor is expected to be there until 234 o'clock in the morning. Trust me this happens every single day, I have multiple people that have reached out to me about this, this is not a hypothetical situation or an anecdote, this happens regularly. So the first thing that I do to ensure I'm not in these situations is I get a very detailed explanation and description of what the expectations are. And there's nothing I love more than being on a show where I'm told, we don't have the money for overtime. Because what that means is now you have to choose two things, you have to choose fast or good. Because cheap is now been defined, it makes it super, super simple. When I say cheap, I don't mean cheap in the sense of the word of oh, it's crappy, I mean, less expensive. So they decided we don't want to pay overtime, that is the perfect scenario for me. Because I know that I will not work for people that don't expect my best. If you just want me to assemble things and press buttons and get you a mediocre cut, that's great, you probably want to hire somebody else. Because that's, that's not going to be a good fit, which means that they have identified that it has to be cheap, and it has to be good. Well, then fast isn't part of the equation. And that's my speed, I want to be able to take my time and I want to be set up for success. So I think the first step, and making sure that we slowly erode this in the other direction, is the idea that we are clear on expectations before we ever say yes, in the first place. We go in knowing what they're expecting. And if all of a sudden, let's say the expectations change, let's say that we have a meeting. And we get an idea of what their expectations are, what the schedule is, you know what, this sounds really good. It sounds like a good fit. And then on the first week, they yank the rug out from underneath all of us. Has anybody ever been in that situation before where you think it's going to be one thing, and then the first week, you're like, hold on a second, this is not what I was promised. I personally in those situations will just leave, like I made a deal with you and I was going to beat my end of the bargain, you proven that you're not going to meet your end of the bargain. And some people would say, Well, why are you missing out on that opportunity? My response is, it's no longer an opportunity. Because if these people are willing to do this to me, once they're gonna do it to me, again, these are not these are not people that are on my list of those I want to collaborate with in the future. So I am very, very selective about the people that I choose to work with, based on not only how cool is the project, or who are the stars in it, but what does my lifestyle look like? And how am I going to be treated. And I think this comes back to what Debbie had addressed. And this is a really important point that I want to bring up is well, this is how we're adopted, indoctrinated all the way from like film school. We believe that we have to big giant air quotes, pay our dues. But does anybody feel like no matter how long you work in this industry, you still have to pay your dues. Like anybody here that's been in the business for more than 20 years, it still feels like they have to pay their damn dues are kind of over it. So what I want to bring up in reference to to Debbie's point is the following. This is my own personal viewpoint. I would love it if there are people here that actually disagree, this is just going to be my own personal opinion. But I think there's a there's an easy way to identify when you're paying your dues, versus when you're being taken advantage of. And I'm going to use the example of when I got my big break working on Burn Notice. So I was on Burn Notice I was I think I just turned 30 I had my first kid, super young I was given this opportunity to sit in the editing chair. Can you imagine a better opportunity to be exploited than that? We've got this young kid he's hungry. He's desperate. He's never gotten a credit. Let's see how much we can push him to get where we want. Like, is that not the most perfect opportunity for me to be exploited? You want to talk about paying your dues, right? But it was the exact polar opposite. I've never to this day and I love all the other shows I've worked on but I never been more respected on a job that I was on Burn Notice. It was an amazing work experience. However, I knew that in order for me to get noticed and recognized. I couldn't just show up according to the allotted hours on the calendar and go home. I knew this was my Chance. So I put in ridiculously long hours off the clock that nobody ever knew about, because I knew I had what it took. But it was gonna take extra for me to really prove that. So I could push myself over the edge. And they can not only say, Oh, we're glad that he helped us out. Instead, they would say, whatever it takes, we cannot lose this person to another show. And I think that's the difference. And it's a really fine line to walk. But I think that if we can find the line between, I'm making the choice, this is my own conscious choice to put in the extra hours, because I believe in my work, I believe in my talents. And I want to prove myself, I think that's very different than somebody saying, You need to be here 16 hours a day and put in sixth and seventh days, almost ostensibly against your will, I think if we find that line, and helps us define what's the difference between paying my dues on my terms, versus I am not respected, I am not valued. And I am taken advantage of. I would love to know thoughts about that theory or hypothesis. Debby, back to you, since you started this conversation,

Debby 46:02

well, I'm going to go back to the emotional standpoint there. Because once you sort of get in that mindset that you want, I mean, at least for me, when I'm in a job, and I and I feel respected, I still want to do my best, even if I don't feel respected, I still want to do my best and make a good impression and make people think that I have a good work ethic. So it for me, it's not about the external, it's more coming from inside me like, well, I have to get this done. And if I don't get this done, I'm gonna look bad. And so it kind of depends, you know, I've never been thankfully, I've never been in a situation where I've been extra, I shouldn't say that. But I've been in both situations where I've been respected and distant and not respected. But in all cases, I never want to look bad. So I'm still going to put in the extra hours.

Zack Arnold 46:57

But if this and I totally agree with all that. But I think that's that's kind of the line that we're trying to figure out is what's the difference between, I want to look good, and I want to do my best versus your setting might setting me up for failure. And the only possible way that I can create the impression that I'm delivering my best is by sacrificing my own needs, my health and my sanity. That's the line that I want to help people find. Because I've been in a position, like I said on burned notes. I mean, even on Cobra Kai, there have been times where there have been episodes or scenes that were really challenging. And I was putting in time off the clock, not because anybody ever asked me to. And in fact, they dissuade that on the show. It's a really great work culture, where they are dissuading that kind of work when I'm like, Yeah, but I just, I want this fight scene to be awesome. Like, my name is going to be honest, I want it to be awesome. I'll come in here for Saturday on three or four hours. But that's my choice, and that it might tire me out. But it's one of the things we've talked about a lot, which is the difference between exhaustion and burnout. I'm exhausted all the time right now like, as Debbie, like, I'll get into our team calls and my homework God, I'm tired. But I wake up every single morning ready to do it again, because I'm invigorated, fulfilled and energized by all the things that I'm doing versus burnout is setting the expectation that I should be able to deliver this against my will where people don't respect me or don't value me, that's where the burnout really comes from. So I feel like what it's really about finding the line between Is this me making this choice, versus the only way that I can succeed and look good is by severely sacrificing my own needs. So going back to your situation, Debby, Could something have changed where you're like, I know that I still want to do my best. And I want to make sure that I'm not giving them anything less than the version that I think is what I can truly deliver. The only way that I can do it is if I don't sleep for the next three nights. What do you do in that situation?

Debby 48:43

I mean, I don't I sleep at this point, I now sleep because I know I'm actually junk. If I don't, it just becomes worse. So So maybe, maybe I don't know the difference. At this point. Maybe I have learned like, Okay, I know, I know when I'm no longer effective, and that I'm just like, moving things around and not actually making progress on anything. So I do know when to cut myself off. But that doesn't mean that I've still haven't been in situations where I've pushed myself to the very limit where it shouldn't, it shouldn't have been like, you know, it shouldn't have been that I had to work all this over time or that things were extended as far as they were extended.

Zack Arnold 49:24

But I'm guessing that having done that either once or multiple times. That that's what got you to the point where you're like, Yeah, I'm just not going to do that anymore, because I know the cost of it. Jeff, I saw that your hand went up a little bit earlier. Did you have something you still wanted to add?

Jeffrey Castelluccio 49:37

Yeah, I mean, kind of piggybacking on something that you said about being exploited I like I worked on this one project where this one individual who was higher up, sat there and I t actually set it to my second phase, we're talking about the situation about hiring extra extra help. I was talking about the workload saying this is too much for one person, and that person was like I think I just find people with integrity. And I use that against them is like they care about their name. They care about their reputation. And that's why I target and I get them to do what I want them to do at the rate that I wanted to do that. And I sat there and turned to them almost like Well, that's how I guess how you got me. It's it's yeah, just it's it's disgusting.

Zack Arnold 50:22

Anybody else have similar experiences that they want to share? I'm seeing I'm seeing some smiles. I know that people. I see what he already knows. I'm looking at him. I'm not gonna say his name. He knows I'm looking at him. He's smiling. And he knows he wants to chime in. I'm going to give him a couple of seconds. Because he knows I'm talking about him. Here it comes. No, no, there he is. I knew that he knew I was talking to there's 20 people here, staring right into his eyes via zoom. He knows that I'm talking to Paul, what have you got to say about this? Paul?

Paul Del Vecchio 50:48

I was on a project one time where the producer, there's really no other way to say he was just a complete dick. And he, I was deeping the project and he turned to me and the production van broke down. And so he was like, he turned to me because I'm the DP and he's like, I don't care, what do you have to do, but we have to be shooting by 11am. And I'm like, I'm not a mechanic, dude. Like, that's your, that's your job. You're the producer. You know, so I think, but, you know, of course, that was my internal dialogue. I didn't say that to him. But I think a lot of us, you know, and I've learned this from you is that we need to, we need to set up systems for ourselves, so that maybe we're not as either desperate for work. And I don't mean this, just financially, but also, you know, with our reputation as well, that like, you know, some of us, you know, either we don't save our money, or we don't have enough clients where, because, you know, there's always gonna be someone who's gonna say, Oh, well, you're not you don't care about your reputation. And that isn't true, it's just that, you know, it's a working relationship is not a good fit, because they're looking for people they could take advantage of. So I think a lot of it kind of does fall on us. Because what we need to do is set up systems for ourselves where, whether it's, you know, saving our money or charging a higher rate so that we have money to save or having enough clients where if we come across that relationship, that isn't a good fit, that we can say, Well, look, I'm not going to deal with this, because this is, you know, you're just setting me up for failure. And what I'm going to do is I'm just going to go work with the people that I know, value me,

Zack Arnold 52:33

I think that is an excellent, excellent point to bring up. There's one of the areas that I'm going to go into, very, very shortly if I do have a lot more time on my hands. And there is in fact, a work stoppage, even if there isn't something I'm still developing, but if there is, to the heart of what you said immediately. We need money in the bank, literally, this is not some kind of analogy, we literally money in the bank. So we can say no to opportunities or people that are not the right fit, right. It's what I call an F you fund. Psych f you I'm out and you feel just fine about it, because you can afford it. But this comes back to the earlier question why? Why do we allow it? And I think one of the reasons that we have allowed this to happen so long, is because most people, the vast majority of people don't have any other choice. I don't think everybody's getting taken advantage of and working these ridiculously long hours saying, Well, I guess it just is what it is. And it's alright, if they treat me that way. My guess is that most people's inner dialogue is, I can't believe that I'm letting them do this. But I don't have any other choice. Like I can't afford it. I can't just walk away and quit. Or I can't turn down this job opportunity. Even though I know it's gonna run me ragged, because I only have two weeks worth of money in the bank and I live paycheck to paycheck. And I think there's no greater safety net or greater system like you said to build than an fpu fund where you can say no to whatever it is, that is not a good fit for you. But that takes time. And it takes resources and it takes organization. But my my belief like really deep down why we have been conditioned and indoctrinated to have these emotional feelings about why we do these things is fear. It's the fear that I don't have any other choice. And this is another one of the things sayings that drives me crazy that I'm going to be talking about a lot more. This is just the way it's done. Anybody ever heard that about like, I think a couple of people already kind of indirectly said it. But you've maybe brought up some some issues with the schedule or the budget, or I don't think this is doable, or whatever it is. And the response was, this is just the way it's done. This is how we do it. Anybody heard that excuse before? I've heard that excuse before and my response was, okay. Best of luck. Let me know how it turns out because I don't want to have any part of this whatsoever. And did you want to add to that, Paul, or were you just exercising?

Paul Del Vecchio 54:47

Yeah, no, there was, um, I just have a story to tell. It was like one of the times it actually did be the obliger that I'm, you know, prone to being there was a job I was up for and They said, Hey, we need this done over the weekend. It's kind of a rush job. It needs to be done by Sunday. And I said, okay, but I have a weekend, right? And then they said, Oh, how much is that? And I was like, Well, you know, it's whatever, whatever it was. And then they go, Okay, well, we definitely don't have that. And I was like, Okay, well, I mean, that's, you know, unfortunately, that's what it's going to take to do it. Because it was Friday, when when we were having this conversation.

Zack Arnold 55:25

Of course, it was

Paul Del Vecchio 55:26

Yeah. So they go, Okay, well, you know what, let's let me talk to the team. And then they came back, probably like 10 minutes later. And I said, you know, what, don't worry about it. Start on Monday. And we can, you know, we can like finish it by Wednesday.

Zack Arnold 55:41

Wait a second. Hold on. Yeah. You mean, there was more time? You mean that Sunday was an actual the real deadline? For those that are listening? Only my face is shocked, absolutely shocked that it wasn't a real deadline. Let me ask you this. Why do you think that they started the conversation there?

Paul Del Vecchio 55:58

Because they want to see if I would do it,

Zack Arnold 55:59

they wanted to see if you would do it, they wanted to know is this somebody that we can take advantage of so they start with the lowest of lowball offers. Let's see how much we can squeeze this guy. Let's see how fast we can get the work for how little money and it was only you setting a boundary that got you to a place of equanimity where they realized, alright, we can figure it out. We're going to give him what he's worth. But you had to set the boundary first,

Paul Del Vecchio 56:24

I'll just say that sometimes there really is a hard deadline. But most of the time, it's just some arbitrary, you know, Bs deadline that they just kind of throw out there just because it would be nice to have it at that date. And most people would say, Yeah, I'll do it. Because, you know, they, they bought the work,

Zack Arnold 56:42

which is again, one of the fundamental reasons I think we are here is that we have been conditioned slash indoctrinated to believe that it's not our place to push back and give alternatives. Either I say yes to this or say no. But I think one of the potential solutions to this is that when these ridiculous expectations come up, we don't just say no, because one of the things I hate to do, and I talk about this in a lot of my classes, I don't like to come to people with problems. I like to come to people with solutions. So what I've done in the past, I've had this conversation many times with post producers. And I've talked about this on the record before, where I had a post producer that I had met for the first week on the show. And they sent me the schedule for the season. And I looked at it and I said, Hey, can we talk about the calendar for a few minutes, and they came into my office and I said, just to set the record straight to make sure that we're on the same page, I can't meet a single one of the deadlines on this calendar. I'm really good at what I do. I can't hit one of these, as long as we're on the same page, then we can move forwards and this person laughing like, don't worry about it. This is the studio calendar, we're gonna figure it out. We're gonna make it work. But what I also do is I come with solutions, I say, Well, I have some alternatives. And everybody knows my OCD level of organization with calendars. It wasn't just I can't do this. This is a bunch of BS. It was this isn't doable. Let me show you what I think is. And I come up with solutions. And I had a whole map of where I had changed the potential deadlines and said, What if we shift this here and this shift this here, and ultimately, your lock days are going to be about the same, but it buys a little more time on the front end to do X, Y, and Z? And they're like, Yeah, you know what I actually think we can make that work. And that ended up becoming the new standard. But I think part of the thing that we need to do is instead of in that this is part of the kind of the backlash that I'm seeing with the whole pitchforks and torches mentality that I think everybody has at the moment because emotions are so high, it's gone from, we're going to let everybody take advantage of us forever in eternity to I'm never going to let anybody take anything from ever, ever again. That's not going to work either. I think that we're going to have to find a middle ground in order to slowly move this line. And I think we have to come to people's solutions. Like Listen, I don't think this is doable. But here are some alternatives. Here are the things we might have to sacrifice. But I think we can still do this for the most part. If we change these few variables, then I think people are much more willing to listen to compromise as opposed to Nope, this is crazy. You're taking advantage of me and I'm never doing it again. And my I'm afraid that the pendulum has swung so far in that direction, because of all the emotion that we're losing sight of what can be a much more proactive solution. So I'm just curious, is there anybody here that has been in one of those positions where you realize that this really can't be done, but maybe if we alter it by doing the following things, we can still make it work? And then it ends up working out to everybody's benefit, similar to what Paul had described. Anybody else have a story like that, that they want to share? Well, that's a bad sign. It just means everybody here has never had the opportunity to actually make this work, which kind of sucks, but that's what I'm trying to fix. Really, nobody. Nobody's been in this situation. Man, if I had the button for the cricket noise, I would turn it on right now. Holy cow talk about dead silence. Oh, there's a hand. Jeffrey, thank you for saving me.

Jeffrey Castelluccio 59:50

I mean, I guess on those two specific projects, I you know, once I told him that deadlines weren't going to happen, and they're not going to be hit. I did come back to them and say this is what What's more doable, change this to this, XYZ, whatever. And then sure enough to the day, I delivered exactly what I said I was going to deliver. And so it happened I guess, on both of those projects, but it took a lot, a lot, a lot of conversations a lot of while this isn't gonna work or Well, we don't have money. That's it. And it just, it just a lot, a lot of song and dance to get to just change to get the result that everybody was happy for happy with.

Zack Arnold 1:00:28

And my question is always why why did why do we have to go through all that? Why can't we just one of the analogies that I've given in the past is that all of us on this call are standing on the shore, and we're like, you see the tidal wave, right? It's way out there. But you see the giant 100 foot tidal wave that's coming. And then everybody else is like, Nope, I don't see it. Just go about your business, do what you need to do. You're like, but no, seriously, there is a there's a tidal wave coming. And the other side of the mentality is, we'll deal with it when it gets here. Isn't it kind of too late to deal with the tidal wave when it hits shore? Shouldn't we maybe be battening down the hatches and getting our emergency supplies and boarding up our windows when the tidal wave is three miles away? And not when it's actually hit shore? And now we're drowning in it. But I feel like that's often the mentality is that the whoever it is that setting the schedule, setting the budgets that doesn't understand what we do, and I don't know this for a fact, I'm speculating, and I'm putting words in their mouth. But I believe one of the mindsets is, well, I think this will work you're gonna have to prove me otherwise first. So we said like, in your example, Jeff, the example of well, they said, I need eight weeks. I think I'm in any double that like, well, let's see first, if he's right, you know, you're right on day one. But in order for them to put out a fire, it needs to be a five alarm fire. It can't be up. There's just there's a little tiny brush fire and I think that the It Gets don't worry about it right now. I've got bigger fires, I've got other things I need to worry about. It's not until it's all consuming and everything is burning, like crazy. Oh, yeah, maybe we should do something about this. So I think that's partly the mentalities we have to prove first, that it's chaos, because we've just been conditioned, and not just us. I feel like the the producing side of things and the budgeting side of things. They've also been conditioned and indoctrinated to believe that if it's not a five alarm fire, it's not a problem yet, because everybody's in reaction mode as a as opposed to being proactive. That's kind of the the end of my soapbox rant, which I have many of it. That's the end of my soapbox rant for today. But I think to summarize, I think the first solution that's going to help us by and large, change this is that we have to be very proactive and clear about the people that we work with. And we shouldn't say yes to opportunities if we're not being set up for success. So it's always the most important question I'm asking myself, I actually talked about this extensively on a podcast that I did with Janice Tashjian. And for anybody listening, I'm sure that Debbie will make sure that this goes back on our show notes. This has been one we've been talking about for a while now. But I asked her because she she creates post teams, and she creates groups where everybody is set up for success. And I said, How do you do that? She's like, that's the one question I asked when I look at the budget. When I look at the team, I look at the expectations, am I setting everybody up for success or failure? And if you feel like from day one, based on the people or based on the project, or the deadlines or the budget, that you're being set up for failure, it's okay to say no, I think that's the first thing that helps us change. The second one, I think is that it's okay, to work really hard and go above and beyond even if it does mean you have to sacrifice some sleep or whatever it might be short term, and you're in the trenches. But knowing that it's on your terms, knowing that you made that choice, and it's not somebody else is forcing you to do it because they're disrespecting, or they don't value, I think that would be another way to look at it. And then the third is just being very clear about, hey, this is a problem. And I don't think that it's possible to deliver fast, cheap and good all at the same time. But I have some ideas and I have potential solutions. Otherwise, like I can't remember what exactly the quote was, but it was something about we become the turd in the turd bowl or something right, we become the problem, we become the difficult one. But as I'm sure everybody's heard me say before, that when people call you difficult, that just means you're difficult to take advantage of. And I that's another like entire t shirt line that I should design. And I think that idea is getting out there because I'm starting to see a lot more people that are posting that concept. But people just don't want to be labeled difficult. I see it as a point of pride. Because it means that I don't let people take advantage of me, as long as I'm not being difficult for the sake of being difficult is if it's difficult for the sake of the product. And the sake of my well being I have no problem with it. So is there anything else particularly Debby, that you would like to say to wrap up and I actually segue to that before I saw that your hand was already up? So your timing is perfect.

Debby 1:04:40

Oh, well, I just wanted to go back to the idea that like, I think when the schedules are made, were never we're never consulted, you know, like we're just handed a schedule. And so again, at that point, it's almost like it feels like it's too late to change. And yes, you gave the example where you know, if you come up With the solution, they can work with you. But I also have the problem of, you know, being on different shows all the time. I don't, I don't always know. Like, clearly how long things are going to take me because every show with new material, new actors, you know, if it's different, like this last show I was just on was like a whole new beast. And I had no idea how much work was going to be involved when I got into it. I mean, I knew it was gonna be a lot, but I could there's no way I could have predicted how it turned out. And so, you know, we all knew from the beginning that this schedule was unrealistic. But it literally was like, three months unrealistic, like they, they scheduled like the first lock date of, of the first episode three months before the actual lock date happened. I feel like in each situation, it's really hard to it's really hard to know, out of the gate, like, Is this realistic or not?

Zack Arnold 1:06:02

I totally agree with that. There's one thing I want to add to this that I think is so crucially important, because I was on this entire journey with you from before you even got that gig to when you were on it. And there were crazy long hours and all these unrealistic deadlines. But Did you at least have the faith that you were working with people that understood what you were up against and adjusted accordingly? So you were set up for success?

Debby 1:06:22

Yes, for sure. I had I mean, that's the only reason I survived the thing. And and actually, this the only reason I actually would go back to it if given the opportunity, but yes, I knew they were on my side. But at the same time, I was not like happy that they were like well, overtimes proved. Like I wasn't like, Oh, great. You know, I was kind of like, I wish it wasn't, because I'm hurt, you know, but

Zack Arnold 1:06:51

which is always one of the questions I ask I always ask them is overtime approved for overages? And they think that the answer I want to hear is yes. And they're like, oh, you know, I'm really sorry. But you know, on this show, it's gonna be one of those where there is no room for overtime. I'm like, Thank God, they kind of look at me weird. And like, I would much rather be on a show where there's more time. And overtime, the money is not nearly as important to me as putting my kids to bed at night. So I'm here for you, as long as I'm on contract, and we're getting the work done. But I want to know that there's a hard and fast line, that if I can't get the work done in time, we just extend the schedule. That to me is the ideal work environment. So one last thing that I want to add this kind of an addendum to this conversation that was a random chat message that was just sent to me that I think is really important for us to understand is that this is a machination of the way that scripts and budgets come together in schedules that I'm not keenly aware of, I'm not in the room, I know that many of us aren't in the room for this conversation. But I think we've all been a part of this kind of a situation where we all kind of agreed to the fact that we all collectively know that this is both, and it's never going to happen. But if we all collectively know it, we just kind of accepted the lie. Knowing that we're gonna have to prove that this is impossible before people actually listen and take action, this idea of well, we know the tidal wave is there. But we think there's a really small chance that by the time it gets to shore, there's not going to be a tidal wave anymore. Even if it's a 1% chance, we would rather bet on that, because it might be cheaper, as opposed to potentially preparing and being proactive. And I think that that's one thing to really keep in mind again, when it's this idea of who are the people that I'm surrounding myself with? Instead of we're all just kind of collectively agreeing, we know this is crazy. Do we have each other's backs, so we can prove to them this doesn't work and know that we're going to get taken care of because I've been in that situation numerous times where it's like, even like the one that I said, where I spoke to the post producer, and I said, Listen, I can't meet any of your deadlines. And I consider myself a professional. If this person had said in response, you're just gonna have to figure it out, I probably would have left. But their response where they just laughed at me. They're like, Yep, totally get it, we'll figure it out. I'm like, alright, we can do this. We all know that we're collectively agreeing that yeah, we're going to do this until we know that we can't, and then everybody adjusts accordingly. Completely different mindset and different quality of life. So I really think what it comes down to more than anything, is just surrounding ourselves with the right people that we know, respect us value us and are going to set us up for success. And we can all adjust accordingly to make sure that that happens. So any other final thoughts, additions or words of wisdom from our community before we wrap it up? Oh, we do have an addition. I had a feeling that you might pop in by the end of the call. I wanted to be very coy but I had a feeling we might hear from you. Yes, sir. What would you like to briefly introduce yourself?

Matt Nix 1:09:40

I'm Matt, I'm so hired Zack on Burn Notice. It's really interesting conversation and thank you for letting me participate. I just wanted to say I think it's an important perspective to just bear in mind with like the people who make the schedules, of course, just so you know how that happens. A lot of times, someone really high up like you're boss's boss's boss puts a gun in your mouth and says either an unrealistic schedule is on that piece of paper, or your brains are. That's it. And so then, and everybody knows it's both. And I think just to underline what you said, Zach, and the other thing is, it is absolutely. And I'm just saying, like, I've had this conversation a million times, guys, it is absolutely 100% I'll show you the math cheaper to not do this this insane way. Please do not make us do this this insane way. Right.

And like, I'm a showrunner. You know what I mean? Like, that's it. Like, if there's anyone they should listen to? Right? They should listen to me. They absolutely do not listen to me. And so I think Zack, like, to your point, the the question and sorry, and I should say also, it is absolutely true that the money is there. Right? It is absolutely true. And it is also absolutely true that you cannot ask for it until the show is on fire. And I know because I have asked for it a million times before the show was on fire.

Zack Arnold 1:11:11

And speaking of anybody where your show has literally been on fire, it would be you

Matt Nix 1:11:16

the thing that I try to do proactively with people who work with me, but I've also had people do it the other way, and it's a great thing to do is it's fine to say, Hey, man, we know this is a lie, right? Like this is a lie. This is not actually happening. Or like in your case, Debbie, like, this may be a lie. Like, we know that we're making a promise that maybe we can keep but there, we cannot necessarily keep this like it's maybe the actor can't get a line out. And I mean, like and maybe I've got 3000 Like, we don't know that and we're the scheduled depends on everybody nailing it in two ticks. Maybe that'll happen. That'd be great. If it doesn't happen, you know, I think it's fine to say to someone, on the day that that happens. Are you with me? What happens when the tsunami hits? Do we have lifeboats? Can we get lifeboats? What's what's going to, we both know, it's coming. And we both know what's going to hit. And I've decided to take this job because I like you I want to be on the show whatever it is, but on the day that it is revealed that we have all agreed to lie, what happens to me? And if the answer is, I guess you're out of luck, you know what I mean? Or I guess you'll just have to work harder than you know, something, just cards on the table. And I'll get off my soapbox. Like, there was one show that I worked on where the deadlines were ridiculous. And we we murdered post, and they are some of my best friends. And I went to them. And I was like, I cannot legitimately ask you to do this. i This is not, this is not healthy, this is not good. We are up against an upfront date. And there is nothing we can do. Right? I have tried every which way to move this, there's literally nothing I can do. Please do not take the job if it is going to hurt you. And, you know, God bless them, they took the job, it was incredibly painful. But at the end of the day, there was a guy that almost had a nervous breakdown. But I've tried to hire him on every show, because he did a post post supervisor. And I said to him, Listen, I'm with you, 100%. I know this is impossible. And if you can do that, I think that you're actually buying something with your overtime and your stress and like it. But I think it's legitimate to say when you are in those impossible positions where you can't actually make the deadline, everybody can actually draw the boundaries for your life, the way that you want to write or the way that would be ideal. And that will happen sometimes, right? And maybe you have the money and you can turn the job down. But maybe you don't. But on those at that moment, you do at least want to make sure that you're working with people who are going to take care of you when this tsunami hits. And it's fine to ask.

Zack Arnold 1:13:56

I couldn't agree with that more idea. Yeah. And I think between the two of us, you have a much bigger house than I have. So you probably have more room for more soapboxes, and even I do I've got a collection, but I have a feeling you have your own collection. But it means a lot to me that you jumped into this call and share that because I think coming from your perspective, it really just cements all the things that we've been talking about. Because I'm also a big believer, and you and I have had this conversation a little bit offline, that we have to be really conscious of other people's perspectives. Whenever there's conflict, you can't just look at it from me, me, me, these are my knees. And this is how you're attacking me. You have to understand it from everybody else's perspective. And I think that if everybody here wants to go after Ted Saran dose, and Jeff Bezos, and all these, you know, Fat Cat billionaires that just want to exploit workers find do that on social media, but be very careful about the other people that you think are the problem that you're attacking, that are the people you're sharing a wall with, or a department with, or you might work with, again, someday, even if it's somebody to study they that you might not know, but it's closely associated with the work that you do. They see that behavior. They see the way that you're treating others and the way that you're approaching this, and I think we really need to be conscious First of all perspectives. And I really appreciate you coming in with a showrunner perspective, because I can't speak from that, that space yet, I hope to be able to better understand that. But I can't speak to that now I can only look at it from my perspective. But it's really important that we see that you as the showrunner, like you had the buck stops at you and you're like, spoiler alert, the buck doesn't even remotely stop at me, there are so many bucks above me where it stops that you're just you're you're one of the stops along the route. And I think it's people, it's really important for people that are below the line to understand that so they really direct their, their frustration, where it's probably is more more worth it and more do. So. On that note, I would actually love to continue this conversation. But I have to go back to work in my lunch hours over because technically, I'm still on the clock at least until the end of the day. Whether I'll be on the clock on Monday is yet to be seen. But I do want to wrap it up at least for today. I think this was an incredibly beneficial and important conversation. I want to thank everybody here that attended today It really means a lot to me that you guys also took your lunch hours to spend this with me and to share this with our community and share it with the world via the podcast. And I can guarantee that we're going to be doing a whole lot more of these on a regular basis. So thank you everybody for being here. Take care and be well

Thank you for listening to this episode of The Optimize Yourself Podcast. To access the show notes for this and all previous episodes as well as to subscribe so you don't miss future interviews just like this one, please visit optimizeyourself.me/podcast. And super quick, before you leave today don't forget that every Monday morning, I am sharing all of my favorite resources, strategies and practical tips to help you pursue more fulfilling work and design a more balanced life without sacrificing your health, your relationships or your sanity in the process. To Subscribe 100% free simply visit optimizeyourself.me/newsletter. And once again a special thank you to our sponsor Ergodriven for making today's interview possible. To learn more about Ergodriven and my favorite product for standing workstations the Topomat, visit optimizeyourself.me/topo, that's t o p o and to learn more about Ergodriven and their brand new product that I'm super excited about New Standard Whole Protein, visit optimizeyourself.me/newstandard. Thank you for listening, stay safe, healthy and sane and be well.

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Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor & producer (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, an American Ninja Warrior, and the creator of Optimize Yourself. He believes we all deserve to love what we do for a living...but not at the expense of our health, our relationships, or our sanity. He provides the education, motivation, and inspiration to help ambitious creative professionals DO better and BE better. “Doing” better means learning how to more effectively manage your time and creative energy so you can produce higher quality work in less time. “Being” better means doing all of the above while still prioritizing the most important people and passions in your life…all without burning out in the process. Click to download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”