Ep148: “I Was Fired For Requesting a Single Mental Health Day” | with Jim Page

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When editor Jim Page recently tweeted about getting fired for requesting a single mental health day, it caught a lot of people’s attention. Depression, long work hours, and burnout are all too common in the entertainment industry. The gig economy and being a freelancer instills fear and insecurity in creative professionals leaving us feeling undervalued and pressured to outperform and outlast.

My own experience with burnout is what led me to start the Optimizer coaching & mentorship program so I could start to teach people to take positive steps towards healthier lifestyles and improved working conditions. After seeing Jim’s tweet, I knew I had to have him on the show to talk about this important topic.

Jim Page has been editing for 15 years in the UK cutting features, shorts, documentaries, and many other types of media. His work includes the feature “The Pugilist” which was nominated for the Michael Powell Award at the Edinburgh Film Festival, while short film “No More Wings” won best film at Tribeca, and “Hair Cut” was long listed for a BAFTA. Like many creatives, Jim is passionate about his work and takes pride in what he does. But the burden of the “The Passion Tax” often becomes too much to bear without sacrificing physical and mental well-being. Jim and I discuss ways in which creatives can take action on their own behalf and embrace the power of saying no.

If you have ever felt like the long hours aren’t worth the toll on your happiness and health, then this episode will inspire you to take control of your career and bring your life back into balance, not to mention helping you learn how to set boundaries or yourself, even if those boundaries might cost you a gig.

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Here’s What You’ll Learn:

  • Why Jim calls himself an Award Losing Editor
  • The Twitter post that went viral and got my attention.
  • Jim’s history of mental health problems since he was 14 years old.
  • The division between above the line and below the line workers makes change for mental health issues impossible.
  • Jim’s struggle with depression and how he got started in editing.
  • The fear that comes from being a freelancer knowing you can easily be replaced.
  • How to take responsibility of your own mental health.
  • What happened when Jim learned to say no to jobs he didn’t feel passionate about.
  • KEY TAKEAWAY: There’s no shame in saying no to a paycheck job but saying yes out of fear often leads to burnout and unhappiness.
  • The lifestyle changes that Jim has made to improve his mental health.
  • Ways that you can set yourself up for success in your career while balancing your mental health and lifestyle.
  • How to clearly communicate your needs to potential employers so that expectations are set properly from the beginning.
  • What’s next for Jim.

Useful Resources Mentioned:

Jim’s Twitter Post About Getting Fired

I Was Tired of Putting My Kids to Bed via FaceTime Every Night. Here’s What I Did About It.

Ep141: Michelle Tesoro (ACE) On Playing Chess With Your Career (Instead of Checkers) – pt1

Ep142: Michelle Tesoro (ACE) On Playing Chess With Your Health & Well-Being (Pt2)

Jim’s Facebook Page

Jim’s Instagram Page

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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 rights 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 vet, 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. When editor Jim Page recently tweeted about getting fired for requesting a single Mental Health Day. Let's just say it caught a lot of people's attention including mine. Depression, long work hours and burnout are all too common in the entertainment industry. And the gig economy and being a freelancer it frankly instills fear and insecurity in many creative professionals like us, leaving us feeling undervalued and pressure to to outperform and outlast because frankly, the next guy is just going to take our job if we don't. My own experience with burnout has led me to start the optimizer coaching and mentorship program so that I could start to teach people to take positive steps towards healthier lifestyles and improve the working conditions. And after seeing Jim's tweets, I knew that I had to have this guy on the show to talk about this topic in his experiences. Jim Page has been editing for 15 years in the UK and he has cut features shorts, documentaries and many other types of media. His work includes the feature the pugilist which was nominated for the Michael Paolo award at the Edinburg Film Festival. While his short film no more wings one best film at Tribeca and Haircut was long listed for a BAFTA. Like many creatives Jim is passionate about his work and he takes pride in what he does. However, the burden of what is called the passion tax often becomes too much to bear without sacrificing physical and mental well being. Gemini today discuss ways in which creatives can take action on their own behalf and embrace the power of saying the most important word in the freelancers language. Know, if you have ever felt like the long hours are not worth a toll on your happiness and your health, then this episode will inspire you to take control of your career and bring your life back into some semblance of balance, not to mention helping you learn how to set boundaries for yourself, even if those boundaries might cost you a gig. If today's interview inspires you to learn how to better manage your time set boundaries and improve your focus muscles so you can get worked on that actually matters to you. Rather than spinning on the hamster wheel of busy work. I am excited to share with you my four part masterclass on building the habit of deep work. This free masterclass contains over an hour of my best video training that I previously only offered to paid students and my focus yourself program. This masterclass is going to help you understand why your ability to focus as a creative professional is so vital for both your productivity and your level of fulfillment with your job. It's going to show you how to reduce all of the distractions in your daily life and most importantly, how to train your cognitive fitness no different than a runner my train for a marathon so that you can get higher quality work done in way less time. To learn more and enroll for free. Simply visit optimizeyourself.me/deepwork all one word no spaces. Alright, without further ado, my conversation with editor Jim Page made possible today by our amazing sponsors Evercast and Ergodriven who are 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 to subscribe so you don't miss the next inspirational interview, please visit optimizeyourself.me/podcast.

I'm here today with Jim Page who was a film and television edited in England and you have worked for 15 years now cutting features, shorts and documentaries. And most importantly according to Twitter, and in your profile, you say that people definitely should not I'll be following you because you're lost. And even more importantly, your personality is akin to the sound of an ironing board opening. One of my favorite Twitter profiles I've ever read. So, on that note, Jim, it's great to have you here on the show today.

Jim Page 5:14

It's a it's a great pleasure to be here. I'm stoked because I've been a, you know, a follow up of you for a long time. And I'm literally sat in front of a standing desk because of you. You're one of the people who kind of helped me with that. So

Zack Arnold 5:26

I love it. Well, that means a lot to me. And I think we're going to prove to people that your personality is indeed not like the sound of an ironing board opening, because that's one of the worst things ever.

Jim Page 5:35

Exactly. Yeah. I mean, it's a little bit I used to describe myself as an award losing editor. Because

Zack Arnold 5:40

I love that. Yeah.

Jim Page 5:41

But because so many people call themselves an award winning whatever. And I just thought it was just funny to do it the other way around. But then someone said, Oh, you shouldn't do that. Because it makes you look like you're a loser. And I said, Well, I think the people who get it, get it. And if they don't, they're probably not the people I want to work with anyway. So

Zack Arnold 5:55

Exactly that that that speaks a lot to your your courage and your authenticity. And I'm a big believer that if you're authentic about the energy you put out into the world, you're going to attract like minded people, and the ones that would be offended by using a word losing, you don't want to work with those people anyway, because they don't have your sense of humor

Jim Page 6:12

No exactly.

Zack Arnold 6:12

So on that note of being courageous about things, I want to talk to the audience today about what actually brought us together. Oddly enough, you had been following the the podcast and the blog, like you said, for years. And we're aware of the work that I was doing. And we had actually gone back and forth an email a couple of times in the past. But what specifically brought you to my attention was a Twitter post that you put up the wind, I don't want to say viral but kind of semi viral and was certainly shared a lot more frequently than maybe many of your other social media posts. And I saw it in immediately after reading it, I sent a message to my team on slack. And I said, We need to talk to this guy. And here you are. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to read the beginning of this post, because it is an entire thread. But I'm going to kind of read the impetus of this conversation. This is going to really drive what you and I are going to talk about today. And you said in the beginning of this post, and by the way, I'm going to create a link in the show notes. So somebody can go to this Twitter post and read the entire thread and see all the responses. I really think it's valuable. But the beginning of the conversation starts as such. I'm scared to say this publicly, but I feel that I need to recently I was fired from a show on a major TV channel. Because I needed a day off for mental health reasons. I made the mistake of being honest, instead of pretending to have a physical sickness. They said they couldn't trust me, despite me having a long track record for almost 16 years. This is the fourth time it's happened. And I'm really tired. It's made me want to leave the industry. as a freelancer and film and TV, I have no real employment rights. So let's just get right into it. I just I like to find the wound and put the knife in and twist. So we might as well to start right away. Talk to me about what brought you to the point that you posted this on Twitter.

Jim Page 7:57

Well, I mean, I'll try not to be too kind of elongated about it. But I've had mental health problems since I was about 14, which is now 24 years. And so like my whole kind of journey to this point has been quite difficult in a few different ways. And I've always found I kind of feel a little bit like I've been stymied by stymied, demeaned by condition, but I, you know, I've created a pretty decent career, I think, I've been working consistently, I pay my bills through doing this. But I've always felt like I'm sort of fighting against it. And one of those things I realized early on was, it wasn't a good idea to be kind of honest about this stuff, because I've felt kind of pushback from companies and I felt an uncomfortableness about it. But there's been a few occasions where I needed to kind of say out loud to people, look, I just need some time here. And some companies, like a couple of companies I've worked for been lovely. But unfortunately, literally four times it's happened where I've had, like, for instance, I was going to do a documentary series for four months. And they found out through a Twitter post that I was had depression, and they cancelled my contract because they didn't want to take the risk. That's what the production manager said to me. And I said to her over the course of four months, you can't risk me having a day or two off? No, apparently not. And I've had a couple of little things. But this was going to be I think, a big break for me this particular show. And it hurts so much when it happened, that I just thought, Well, at this point, what's the worst that can kind of happen? You know, with the whole lockdown thing, I'm very isolated. It's difficult to communicate these things. I'm sitting here, you know, in the first place, I've got this illness anyway. But then I get the news that I'm fired. And then it turns out that I'm not able to get medical treatment, like therapy treatment for another six to eight months. So I thought sod it. Why don't I just write out how I feel on Twitter. And yeah, and it sort of blew up. I think like half a million people have seen it. It's have 1000s of comments and it comes I think it's struck a nerve with a few people.

Zack Arnold 9:56

But what I'm hoping you recognize immediately from how quickly this one out there is that you're not alone. However, I know that ironically, when you deal with mental health issues, that's the only thing you feel is I am alone in this. I'm all by myself. And I'm hoping that you at least see from the reaction to this, that you are not the exception that you are the rule.

Jim Page 10:14

Yeah, it was interesting, because I have literally hundreds of messages, emails from people who I would never, ever have guessed would be in that position. And maybe that's me being naive, but lots of people saying, oh, you're really brave to post this I, you know, I feel exactly the same, but I wouldn't, wouldn't feel able to, which sort of scared me really, because you think if you're doing something brave, then that's probably, you know, if you're being called brave, then you're probably doing something a bit dangerous. And I'm in sort of two minds about it, really. But it was remarkable. The number of people, you know, vary from people within the industry, but also people outside people just sort of sending support and, you know, repeating that, you know, retweeting it. And it sounds terrible to say that the misery of other people was quite heartening. But it was in a funny kind of way, because it made me Yeah, it made me feel less alone. But it was also kind of quite disturbing that so many people in our industry, were feeling this way, but felt they couldn't say anything.

Zack Arnold 11:12

Yeah. And I've gone through the exact same process that you're going through where I had that realization as well, where I too, have been struggling with mental health issues, and anxiety and depression and ADD in all of these things, since about my early to mid 20s. And again, you work in a small, dark room all by yourself, you assume there's something wrong with me, everybody else seems to have it figured out. They're all getting work. And they're all successful. There's something wrong with me. And I just decided at a certain point, I need to I need to get this out there. And I just need to talk about it. started my little podcast and wrote something about an A bam, the article about burnout went viral. And it was the same thing. Like everybody's like, Oh, my God, I deal with this too. And I was like, holy crap. It's not just me. But yeah, it was scary to put that out there. Because my first thought was, if anybody that I'm ever going to work with sees this, I'm never getting hired again. And I know, that's also one of your fears. And one of the things you acknowledged in your post.

Jim Page 12:04

Yeah, I mean, I think, as I said, I'm in two minds about it really, because as I said, there's lots of people who are in touch with me, like the big union over here, the head of bat cat got in touch with me, the big broadcast magazine over here, one of the daily newspapers, wanted to do an interview with me. But what the people who are sort of conspicuously absent from the people who got in touch with me were producers and directors and people at production companies. So all the people who were kind of supportive were on my side of the line, the people who are affected by this, they weren't in a position to change things. And so I think I said in the thread that, you know, it's lovely, getting lots of people being lovely and nice, and you know, it's time to talk and people being open and honest. But until people who are in a position to actually make allowances and kind of adjust things, it's a bit like saying, we want to employ people with will in wheelchairs, but not building a ramp into the building. Until the actual practical stuff is changed. Things aren't good. It's just it's just kind words, things aren't gonna change, there has to almost be legislation to, to kind of sort it out, or it has to become some sort of self policing thing. But one of the I think one of the issues is basically everyone's freelance in film and TV. Everyone feels disposable. It's a massively oversubscribed industry. So there's always this feeling that well, if I don't do it, someone else will do it. And in this country, I don't know what it's quite I think it's different in America. But in this country, there's no real Union for kind of protection, you can't walk off the job, you if you walk off the job, someone else will do it. And so yeah, so I've definitely wondered, like, I wonder who has seen it, but isn't saying anything? And it's just made a mental note and said, Well, he's not someone. And also I, you know, I'm one of the reasons I turned down these newspaper interviews was, I don't want to be Jim, the mentally ill editor. I mean, I don't want to be

Zack Arnold 13:55

I know exactly what that feels like.

Jim Page 13:57

I don't want to be branded with that, because it's part of me, but it's not all of me. You know, it's really tricky to kind of to navigate that kind of thing. I guess, ultimately, I'll never know what, you know, what impact is had negatively, I suppose. But I didn't really feel like I had, in the moment, at least I didn't feel like I had a choice. I just felt like I had to say something.

Zack Arnold 14:15

Right? Well, the first thing that I want to get into there's a couple of things I want to dig into deeper, the first of which is this idea that you said that there's kind of like this line, and all the people that are doing what I'm doing all the support was there, and I've been there too. And that's such Bs and all that. But then when it comes to the directors and the producers, crickets. what frustrates me so much is that I know for a fact that the directors and the producers and the executives, they're all struggling with the same issues. Yeah, yeah. But they're still at a point where they're too terrified to bring it out there in the public. Because ultimately, they're the ones that are quote unquote, above the line, and they're making a lot of the decisions and I think they need to project a position of strength, but they're no different than us. They're still human beings. They still have mental health issues, but I I think that because there's the divide between above and below, oh, yeah, well, the below the line people, it's okay for them to share that. But if I'm making the decisions as the director, they still don't have the courage to share or the producers or the executives, I think it's still the way that the politics are on their end of the business, that level of acceptance isn't quite there yet. And I think that there's still some level of hiding it in our side of the business, because we don't want to get hired. But I, at least what I feel like has changed over the last maybe five to 10 years, is that amongst ourselves, we're not hiding it anymore. We're used to be, I can't share with other assistants or other editors or other below the line people that I'm dealing with this. Now we're all sharing it with each other, but it hasn't kind of, you know, crossed the line to where we're all in this together as humans. Right now, we're all in this together as editors per se, right, and crossing that line. That's where the difference happens. Because Yeah, we're not ultimately making the decisions. What I would like to also go into a little bit deeper if you're willing, just so people better understand your situation and can better relate to it. Because ultimately, I want to walk away with this, not with solutions. Because I don't know if there are solutions quite yet, but just what what actions can we take to start to make the smallest bit of difference in movement forwards. But I think an important step to doing that is to better understand what you really have been battling. So you don't have to divulge anything super crazy personal. But I know that my experiences are going to be different than your experiences are going to be different than somebody else's experiences listening. But at the same time, I think we can all relate to similarities. So when you say that you've been dealing with mental health issues since 14, do you mind painting a little bit clearer picture of some of those mental health issues and how they've impacted your ability to actually do the work that you need to do?

Jim Page 16:46

Yeah, sure. I mean, I was kind of a straight A student at school, taught my class and then sort of the bottom just sort of dropped out when I was 14. And I suddenly sort of lost all my confidence or my will to live me literally. And I left school early, and I really didn't know what I was going to do. I have severe depression, severe severe anxiety, you know, suicide attempts, all the kind of, you know, all the fun stuff. I eventually went to do an IT course at a college like a local it costs. And I looked around the room, and I thought, like there was all these guys in polyester shirts would clip on ties, and they bought briefcases, and they got nothing in them. And I just thought, this is not the world I want to live in, you know, growing up, I always wanted to be creative, what I wanted to do all that kind of things, I just didn't have the confidence. And then someone I knew was going to do a media course. And I went along to see if I could get in there kind of admissions officer met me chatted to me for a while. And even though I didn't have any qualifications, she sort of went on my predicted grades, and said, well, you're clearly capable of doing this, you just need a chance. So she gave me a chance to kind of go into it. And I fell in love with it, you know, it was a really big changing point, they really helped me with my confidence, but also it just it felt right, you know, it felt like it fitted. And all the way through college, you know, we build this kind of relationship with people and you know, changing your personality, you know, adjusting your confidence, you know, and there were ups and downs during college. But it was, it really wasn't until I left college and went kind of went into the real world, I had a bit of a breakdown after leaving because of we become this little community. And then we just kind of left. Some of us we didn't keep in touch. And so there was a really kind of quite difficult kind of process. But I was kind of relentless. So I would work on anything. And I would do and you know, I started off doing wedding videos, or corporates or drive 200 miles to do like a 10 minute job and drive back, you know, just because I wanted to get the experience wants to do the work and get better at what I was doing. Because sometimes when you have depression, it's really difficult to get out of bed. And if you are self sufficient living on your own as I was, you haven't got any safety net, you know, if you don't get to work, you don't get paid. And so it was very, very hard. And there were a bunch of jobs, which I knew, which I just sort of didn't do, and unfortunately let people down because it got to that day where I just couldn't, couldn't face leaving the room, much less the house. And it's been a long journey, since that point, have similar kind of feelings. You know, sometimes you can be working on something and be really into it. And there's suddenly the ground sort of falls away. And you you feel like what am I doing here? Why am I doing this? Nothing matters. And in the past, you have to hide it from the person you're working with. So you can want to be you know, staring at a computer screen and they think you're working but you're actually going I want to die I want to die I want to die. I don't want to be here can't do this. But you're but you turn to them and say hey, you ready to do that thing and you kind of have to put this kind of plastic mask on to do it. And I think a lot of people who were really, really surprised when they found out I had mental illness because I'm quite gregarious and friendly and loud. And so you know, but they didn't realize that I've got this sort of duality to what was going on. And so yeah, so there are lots of kind of occasions where That overtime where Frankly, I, you know, I let a few people down. And because I wasn't able to tell them what was wrong, and you know, I'd make up an excuse for them, that excuse would get stretched too thin. It was all because I was too embarrassed or too ashamed or too frightened to kind of tell someone, this is what's wrong with me, partially because of the kind of, you know, the maybe the personal ego side of it, but also, because I was really worried that I was going to alienate employers and I wasn't in a position, then to kind of go, Well, I don't want to work for them, or don't work for them, you know, it was, I was just taking anything, you know, and I had that kind of constant panic. And that was the other thing I was doing things that I didn't necessarily want to do. But I was so worried that, what if I don't do this, then what happens if I get ill for like, two months, then I won't have any money. And you know, it's just becomes this pressure cooker. Really. So yeah, so that's kind of, and I'm better able at dealing with it. And I've worked for some companies who've been, you know, very understanding and let me have a few days off, or just taking me off a project and said, we can come back another time, other companies who said that, and then not done it to cause and then there are other companies who just basically said, we're not going to employ you again. And, you know, difficult thing dealing with, because you have this kind of feeling of where you want to be and what you want to do. And it feels a little bit like you're being held back by yourself, by your own mind, really. And it's sometimes it's difficult to know when it's going to happen, or, and often why, you know, sometimes it'll have no kind of precipitating event or anything.

Zack Arnold 21:28

So knowing all of the challenges and the struggles that you've been through over the years managing and keeping jobs and having been let go from this one or that one, I want to dive into this one job specifically that precipitated this Twitter post. And I want you to be super crazy honest about this. If you had taken that one day off of work, if instead of firing you they had said, okay, you can have it, what would the ramifications have been to the project,

Jim Page 21:55

Nothing wouldn't made a difference.

Zack Arnold 21:56

I kind of had a feeling that was gonna be the answer.

Jim Page 21:58

And I think unless you're doing breaking news, or like a really fast turnaround thing that has to be done tomorrow, a day here or there is not going to make a difference. And ultimately, they they have to find someone else anyway. So it wasn't like and I said to them, Look, you know, I'm happy to work on the weekend or come in in the evening. You know, they've been super, super positive beforehand. You know, I'm really grateful for you coming on board. You know, we're really looking forward to working with you. And actually, it's funny, I remember the moment, I actually initially just said, I was ill I didn't say anything about what it was. And they said, Okay, that's fine. No problem. Brick chains. When I said mentally ill because what happened was they said, they email me back. I said, it's not COVID is it? And me to kind of, you know, raise their issues. I said, Oh, no, no, it's not COVID, I just have some mental illness issues, went completely quiet. And then that afternoon, my agent got a phone call saying we're not bringing him back. And they ended up ringing me and saying, but we just, you know, we can't trust that you're gonna come in tomorrow. I said, Well, I've told you, I'm gonna come in tomorrow. I know, at this point, how I'm feeling and you know, I'm 16 years into this. Now I know, whether I'm able to or not able to do these things, ultimately, isn't it kind of incumbent on you to give me the chance to come in, you know, to come in and do the job, you know, you're not losing anything, cuz you're gonna have to hire someone else anyway. So it's not like you've got more days, the time isn't stretched? And they just said, No, I'm sorry, we're just not going to take the risk on you. Sorry. And it was, you know, devastating. But yeah, it wouldn't have made a difference a day here or there just doesn't matter on these things. Because, um, they accidentally kept me in the loop on the email chain. I think there was they were editing like a week over the schedule anyway. And this is one of the things I said in the tweet is that schedules change all the time. And I totally understand from their point of view, you know, you hire someone, as an editor, everything flows through you. If you're not there, sometimes it's difficult to get anything done. But the schedule changes all the time. And you have to adapt to that. But if you want to change the schedule, then there's no adaptation at all. I'm feeling like this just wouldn't have mattered to have a day off. Or even if I'd had two days off, it wouldn't have changed anything. But their schedule and their time, and their panic over the whole thing. It was so wound so tightly, which I think is an industry thing, everyone's wound so tightly about everything that, you know, they just felt like they hadn't got the flexibility. You know, that I'm sure you've had this a number of times where, you know, I've gone into Edit, and they'll say, Oh, it's a 10. We get it. We've absolutely got to do 10 weeks, and you look at it and go, Well, this is going to be about 12 weeks, I think, obviously No, no, we're booking for 10 weeks. And then you get to like week nine, and they go Yeah, are you available for like two more weeks. It's just such a short sighted kind of way of looking at everything. And everyone's so wound up and so tight and worried that actually the problem becomes the problem. Like the stress of not being able to say anything, and of getting everything everything's gonna be done right now is actually makes things worse. I think one of the biggest issues is, as creative people, we're naturally sensitive, you kind of have to be to do this job, but there's no allowance made for people for them. The other stuff that comes with that, you know that there's no kind of, you know, they obviously, they want the benefits of creative people of people who are sensitive and able to kind of communicate things. But they don't want the downsides, I suppose. And there's no understanding that, okay, someone might not be able to work on the railroad for for six months, but they can still contribute a huge amount, if you allow them to be able to have the environment to do that, you know, so it's very frustrating, very frustrating.

Zack Arnold 25:27

Well, talking about the analogy of the railroad, for example, it'd be no different than saying, We want you to bend over every single day all day and hammer these steaks and build this railroad. But I'm not gonna accept the fact that you're backwards, like, exactly, really, you've got lower back problems, I'm just gonna find somebody else to get a hammer the stake in the ground. And it's just this endless loop. Just as people on a treadmill puts you in here, I get the best out of you, oh, you're burned out, you're depressed. Okay, cool. I'm going to replace you with another one. And the way that the freelance world is structure, they can do that they can get away with it. Because as you know, one of the greatest fears we have as freelancers is, if I'm not going to do it, there are 50 other people that will take my job tomorrow morning.

Jim Page 26:06

Yeah, yeah, I like one of the stories that someone who contacted me after the tweet was, they said that they were in a job where someone killed themselves, and then their replacement killed themselves Two years later, because that job was so stressed, and so highly, again, wound so tight. And there wasn't even like a mention from the company in or they didn't even kind of have a day off for everybody to deal with it or anything. It was just like, oh, let's hope we have a better day tomorrow. You don't realize someone killed themselves because of your environment twice and twice, twice. Exactly. Yeah. And, you know, of course, these are the kind of isolated incidents to an extent, with everybody, I think, pretty much every company, there's kind of a boiling point of stress. And everyone is sort of bubbling under the surface, or a lot of people are bubbling under the surface. And okay, it might not boil over in that way. But you know, it's still causing tremendous problems for for seemingly 1000s of people, millions of people across the world, maybe. But it doesn't feel like anything practical is actually happening to change you.

Zack Arnold 27:06

Yeah. And I would agree with that, that I think there are, there are a lot of steps that could happen. Like you said, I love the analogy. I've never heard this before. We want to accept people with physical disabilities and wheelchairs with bring your own ramp, like we're not going to build a ramp for you, right? Like that. I very much see that mentality in the corporate world. And I think that there's there are a lot of acknowledgments and a lot of things that need to happen on the the corporate side, the studio side, the business side, to acknowledge that these things exist. And they're part and parcel with highly creative people. But at the same time, the other thing I want to acknowledge that I think is a really hard reality for people in our position is that some of the responsibility lies on our shoulders. And one of the one of the things that I talk about with my students all the time is understanding the difference between fault and responsibility, because people think they're synonyms. Well, it's not my fault that I've got depression probably isn't, you're probably born with it, I'm wired with it, you're wired with it. It's not something as simple as well, just be happy tomorrow, like, just get some sleep over the weekend, wake up on Monday and be happy. Like, it's really not that hard. It's like saying to somebody with diabetes, well just make insulin, come on, what's wrong with you just make more insulin and manage your blood sugar doesn't work that way. But I still believe it's our responsibility to acknowledge that we have this form of mental disability. And we have to put ourselves in a position where we can manage it and it becomes an asset to us and working with whatever team or whatever project it is, it's not going to slow down or hinder that project. Right. So one of the things you talk about that I heard you mentioned in a previous podcast is this idea that we need to find a middle ground. And if I have a broken leg, and I'm a freelance firefighter, I can't expect people to hire me at their fire station to put out fires tomorrow, because I can't do the job, of course, right. But at the same time, when we look at your circumstance, realistically, there was no reason that they should have let you go if it had been breaking news. And they'd said, the biggest story of the year comes out tomorrow. And you said sorry, guys Mental Health Day, I think they have a legitimate reason to replace you.

Jim Page 29:11

That's one of the reasons why I don't take on fast turnaround stuff. And I first started, I was like, No, I can do that very quickly. And then I and that was the incidents, you know, the few incidents where I'd let people down because I'd over promised and not been honest with myself about what I could take on these days. I'm much more conservative about schedules. And I'll say, look, I can do it in this amount of time. And I build in that downtime, I suppose to the projects that I started, but yeah, you know, I would never take on something now that I feel like I couldn't you know that the stress will be too much and I don't like setting my tree. I totally get it. You've got to schedule you can't just sit around going Oh, get on with it next week. You know, you've got to get on with these things and as often multimillion pounds, you know, dealing and dollars obviously, at stake and everything flows through you and there's all this kind of, you know, there's this pressure that you Have to kind of try and ignore, and they have a responsibility to all those people and to the company. And so it's not so much that, you know, I want to be able to say, Well, I want to be able to work two days a week, and then we'll get the thing done in a year. It's not about that. It's just about making slight adjustments that will have a big effect. In the long run, I think.

Zack Arnold 30:19

And I think an example of you taking responsibility is knowing I'm not a good fit for projects, there are a fast turnaround, exactly. Maybe that's the favorite thing on the planet, if you want to edit or fast turnaround projects, but you realize I am being irresponsible, if I put myself up for those, and I don't tell them about my mental health issues, and then I don't deliver. That's an example of taking responsibility. And I think a lot of people aren't doing that. I think a lot of people are just saying, you need to accommodate all of my needs, and work around me, nobody's gonna do that. Nobody has the money or the time to do that. But this was not the case with this company. I believe that if you really dig down to the deepest, darkest depths of why they fired you, it was the fear of uncertainty. It wasn't the you were unavailable tomorrow. It's Can we trust this guy in the future now that we know he's got mental health problems? And that to me is wrong, because you were proving yourself and you needed one day off.

Jim Page 31:12

Yeah, I think it's part of a general kind of feeling, though, isn't it is that we even though as a society, we have become much more aware, much more sympathetic, there's a difference between going Oh, that's a shame and actually being open about changing things. And I keep coming back to is this idea that until you make practical changes, and actually have practical attitude changes, where you don't see someone as weak, if they've got a mental illness, you might be you know, there's you can be sympathetic and empathetic and still think that someone's weak and not reliable. You know, and maybe there are some people like that. I mean, I imagine there's a lot of people who kind of, you know, I'm not able to hold down a job. And there's a sliding scale, of course, there are certain people who've got really severe kind of, you know, schizophrenia, they're going to struggle really struggle. And they're going to have really, really difficult times to get any kind of backing from from companies. And then there's people like me, who are sort of in the middle, I suppose, who have bad times and have bad times. And like you say, I would never expect a live TV show or a news show or something to get to do it. And it took me a while to come to that conclusion, and to make myself realize it's a bit like when you realize I'm never going to be an astronaut, I'm never going to be a footballer. It's like, I'd love to do it. But I don't have the skills. I don't have the tools. And once you're honest about that, I think I think it's good. And I think maybe it's a societal problem anyway, at the moment where people try and blame other people for their own issues. And so I don't want this to come across as a poor me, you know, obviously, it's not my fault that I'm in this situation, but it is my responsibility to deal with it and handle it. And that's what I tried to do. And, and that's why I was honest with them. And I said to them, Look, I've got this issue, I will be in tomorrow. It wasn't me going, Oh, I hope I'll be in tomorrow. And I'll just tell them, you know, I will be in tomorrow. That's fine. I just know, I need a few hours to kind of to deal with this. But they weren't able to make that leap. And I think that's quite prevalent. I think there's a lot of people who still think, Well, once you've crossed that line, there's no way of coming back from it. And it's sort of a fundamental misunderstanding of what it is really, because you know, people go are mentally ill equals crazy and erratic and unreliable. And, and, of course, there's a certain element of that, but it's, it's much more complicated than that. And I think I'm told those kind of wider kind of attitude to change. It's difficult because I want to be kind of hopeful about it. And I want to be, you know, helpful to other people. But I don't feel much hope about how it's gonna change. I'm not sure. Like, whether there is actually any real impetus for people to change things, which is not, you know, not a great podcast subject, how everything's crap, and it's gonna stay crap. But, you know, that's kind of how I feel I think.

Zack Arnold 33:53

My sincerest apologies for the interruption in the middle of this interview. But if you are a content creator, or you work in the entertainment industry, not only is the following promo, not an interruption, but listening has the potential to change your life. Because collaborating with Evercast is that powerful. Here's a brief excerpt from a recent interview that I did with ever cast co founders, Brad Thomas and award winning editor Roger Barton.

Roger 34:15

Living this lifestyle of a feature film editor has really had an impact on me. So I was really looking for something to push back against all of these lifestyle infringement that are imposed on us both by schedules and expectations. When you guys demoed Evercast for me that first time my jaw hit the floor. I'm like, Oh my god, this is what I've been waiting for for a decade.

Zack Arnold 34:38

I also had the same reaction when I first saw Evercast two words came to mind game changer.

Brad 34:43

Our goal, honestly, is to become the zoom for creatives, whatever it is, you're streaming, whether it's editorial, visual effects, Pro Tools for music composition, LIVE SHOT cameras, it's consistent audio and video, lip sync, always stays in sync, whether you're in a live session where you're getting that feedback immediately or you can't Get it immediately. So you record the session and you can share those clips with people on the production team where there's no room for any confusion. It's like this is exactly what the director wants. This is exactly what the producer wants.

Roger 35:11

What matters most to me is it makes the entire process more efficient, which then translates to us. As creatives who spent way too much time in front of computers, we get to shut it down, and we get to go spend time with our friends and family.

Zack Arnold 35:23

The biggest complaint and I'm sure you guys have heard this many, many times, this looks amazing. I just can't afford it.

Brad 35:29

Tesla had to release the Model S before they released the model three. So by the end of the year, we are going to be releasing a sub $200 version a month of Evercast for the freelancer in indie creatives. Anyone who is a professional video creator outside of Hollywood.

Roger 35:45

I think what we've learned over the last few months is that this technology can translate to better lives for all of us that give us more flexibility and control while still maintaining the creativity, the creative momentum and the quality of work.

Zack Arnold 36:00

I cannot stress this enough Evercast is changing the way that we collaborate. If you value your craft your well being and spending quality time with the ones you love, Evercast now makes that possible for you and me to listen to the full interview and learn about the amazing potential that Evercast has to change the way that you work and live, visit optimize yourself.me/evercast. Now back to today's interview.

Right. And I can understand that very much so and I felt that way for a while to when I really started to go through this. And this was I don't know, maybe 15 years ago now when I was editing my first feature film, and really was very intimately introduced to massive burnout and suicidal depression, and the realization that this is what I wanted to be and do with my entire life. And now I can't quote unquote, hack it, oh, I'm just not good enough for this. And it's beat me down. And everybody else seems to have this figured out. And I'm just I'm not good enough. I'm not strong enough, I'm too weak to be an editor. And I very much could have quit. But then I also realized, there there are a lot of things to lead to me being in this position that I do have control over some of which I don't. And I think that if we just focus on waiting for the industry to change and waiting for producers and directors and corporations to accept mental health issues, that can be really depressing in and of itself. And it creates a vicious cycle. So I'm a big believer in focusing on what we can control. Which is why I like to think about this idea of fault versus responsibility, not my fault, I'm here, it's my responsibility to learn more about it and better manage it. And I think another area to tap into that a lot of people don't tap into. And I think you even alluded to this as well, is that one of the things and you correct me if I'm wrong, but one of the things that seems to exacerbate some of the mental health issues for you personally, is you just don't enjoy or feel connected with the work that you're doing. Have you experienced that more than once where you're like, why am I even cutting this, like, Who gives a crap about this story, or this person or whatever it is? And here, this is what I do. This is what I wake up to be all day long as tell this story like, that can be depressing, can it not?

Jim Page 38:01

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I, it's weird, I got to a point a couple of years ago, where I, I basically stack up projects. So all the time, I'd have five or six things going on, partly because I just wants to keep working and getting better and all the rest of it. But also partly because I was kind of afraid to not work afraid of the kind of the quiet times. But I was doing stuff that I didn't, you know, often didn't really care about and diverting my attention and burning myself out. And I just made a decision at one point just to go, I'm just not going to do stuff, I'm going to turn things down. I know that sounds crazy, but it's like, like I I've turned down five or six things already this year, which might be good. But I just don't feel it just don't feel don't care about it as because I realized that my time, especially someone with mental illness, but anyone I think, is a finite resource. And I've only got so much bandwidth in my head to deal with these things. And if I hire if I'm Dave, and so I want to be spending that bandwidth on the things I care about. Because ultimately, if I'm working on stuff that I don't care about, then what we do is so personal. And so you know. So we're so interconnected. And sometimes I certainly feel sometimes that my self esteem is wrapped up a lot in what I do. So if you're doing something that you think is crap, then you go feel crappy about yourself, aren't you? So I've definitely made adjustments in that way to kind of make sure that I'm not working on stuff. And of course, there's always things we think, well, it's not brilliant, but you know, gonna pay the rent and all that kind of stuff. But I'm much more selective about that. And that's difficult, I think when you're starting out. But I think the one of the things you want to do is try and get to a point it's weird in a way you want to kind of get to a point where you work less, but work on work specifically on things that you care about.

Zack Arnold 39:41

Yeah, I think that that's ultimately what everybody wants in any creative industry is I just want to work on the stuff that really drives me that I'm passionate about telling a story. You're creating an image or evoking a feeling that resonates with me so I can give that feeling to other people. But on the flip side, there's bills gotta pay the bills, right. And I always make Very clear to my students and anybody listening or that I talked to her give advice, there is no shame in taking a paycheck job, if it's something that you totally hate, and it's not your thing, and it's even content that you wouldn't want to tell your friends about, but you have to pay the bills to survive. Zero shame, you should not feel guilt. However, I think a lot of people are taking those paycheck jobs when they shouldn't be, because they're simply afraid of not working, which it sounds like for a certain period of time, you're succumbing to that same fear. And you know, I shouldn't be taking this, but I'm too afraid to say no.

Jim Page 40:31

Yeah, absolutely. I've always hated the expression selling out, because I always feel like, you don't know what position people are in. And to be able to tell someone, you know, oh, you shouldn't you should be unemployed. Because it makes me feel bad. It makes me kind of furious when you hear these kind of music artists or like, you know, Bob Dylan going electric. So why should you tell Bob Dylan what he wants to do? Like he wants to do this thing. It's not selling out. It's buying in really, it's doing what you need to do to kind of keep your life going. But yeah, I mean, yeah, I definitely went through a long period of just doing anything. And, you know, I've done loads and loads of work. And if you go on my website, you can see I've done corporates and commercials and documentary series and features and short films and TV, just done loads and loads thing people always go bloody, how have you done so much work, as because I've just been relentless for like, 15 years, just doing everything, whilst also dealing with these issues. And I think it's only in the last couple of years, really, that I've really been able to get a handle on, it almost became the problem that I was working too much. And that was exacerbating things. And I'm you know, I got a lot better than I used to be at saying no, at self care. You know, I definitely need need more help to do that. I think but, but the impetus is there, you know, gentlemen, it's there. For me personally, I think that's really important for everybody.

Zack Arnold 41:49

Yeah, absolutely. And I do talking about this idea of self care. This is another thing that I bring up often is when somebody is going to say yes to an opportunity. I always ask them the question. Yeah, but what are you saying no to in return, because you're not going to get it all. And it sounds like for you, you say yes to an opportunity to pay the bills. And what you're saying no to is your mental health, and you having the time and energy to be able to take care of yourself in return, which ultimately brings us back full circle to this idea of responsibility. It's, I believe it's our responsibility to bring the best version of ourselves to a job. And we're doing somebody a disservice. If we're just taking it for the paycheck, and we're not connected with it at all. And we're going to give them 50%, we're not going to be in a great mood, and yeah, fine, I'll go through the motions, and I'll deliver on deadline, you're not doing them a service. And it's your responsibility to make sure you're choosing opportunities that are not only best for you but best for other people. And that's scary, because sometimes you have to say no to something.

Jim Page 42:43

It definitely is. And it was something I just couldn't do and easily but what I realized was I wasn't creating space for myself to be well, I was just kind of filling all the time I had with just projects and doing stuff that I wasn't necessarily caring about. And yeah, I did feel guilty sometimes. Because I think to myself, well, this but you know, for this person, that's their entire life, this hold this project. And for me, I sort of actively don't like it. And I you know, I don't want to be involved. But I'm here because, you know, I've got to keep my, my rent paid and all the rest of it. But yeah, it is. But it's a scary thing to say no to something because you think you know, but when's the next thing going to happen? You just have to kind of start to use the phrase back yourself to me a little while ago, I thought yeah, that's the thing you've got to do is you kind of got to have a bit of confidence and think something will come along, you know, you've put enough effort in now something will come along, or, you know, maybe you will reach out to something else, you know, but you wouldn't be able to do that if you were spending your time. You know, doing stuff you didn't care about, you know, you've got a curve. But it's literally as simple man, this sounds kind of silly, but like literally just going out for a walk every day, for me is massively helpful, not just for my physical health, which has deteriorated, but just mentally being able to go outside. And I used to just go Well, I'm not going to do that. I just need to work. But now I'm like, No, this is a hard line. And I've worked with directors who are like, oh, should we just get a sandwich and come back to work? Now I'm not doing not going to eat at my desk, I'm not going to do you know, this is what I need to look after myself. And for a long time. Self Care felt like a really weird experiment. You know, you should love yourself, you should care for yourself. Felt we added if that's a British thing or not. But

Zack Arnold 44:17

No, no, that's a very universal thing. All the same issues over here.

Jim Page 44:20

Yeah, there was a resistance to kind of like, you know, trying to help myself. And it took me a while to go well, no, you know, ultimately, mental health is physical health, isn't it. And if I'm not looking after myself physically, and I'm not kind of separating myself a little bit from my work, then I'm not going to be able to sustain that. And that's what's happened. You know, there's been a couple of times when I've had quite big kind of drops and just kind of had to stop doing it for a little while, because, you know, I burnt myself out. And I'm so much more careful these days. And that's what was so frustrating about this whole situation was I didn't feel like I was in the bottom of a giant well, I just felt like I just need a day off to maintain and keep going. You know, I didn't, I wasn't I wasn't like, Oh my god, the world's collapsing, it was just I need a bit of time off today, and then I'll carry on and everything be fine. And so for it to happen again, after doing all this kind of personal work was really frustrating.

Zack Arnold 45:11

For me, I think the ironic thing about all of this is that we get paid for our ideas and our knowledge, it's worth it, I think this all comes back from this idea of the Industrial Revolution, 18th 19th 20th century mentality of you're on an assembly line, and you're just a drone that fulfills a certain need. And you're going to do it for a certain number of hours. But that's not our job, our job is not sit at a keyboard, and press the J key every seven seconds and press the Q key every 10 seconds. And as long as you do that consistently, all day long, you have a job, they need our ideas, we need to solve problems. So the most valuable thing to me to have you on my team is that you can creatively solve problems. And I'm going to put you in the absolute worst environment possible. To make it as hard for you as possible to be creative and generate ideas and be passionate about what you do the irony that just escapes me. And that's what I'm trying to change.

Jim Page 46:04

It's crazy. I mean, we literally just sent the things you were talking about, you know, having a desk that is at the right height and having a chair there the number of times I've walked into an office, and it's just like a wooden chair that doesn't even turn or anything, no hand armrest or something you think, now I'm like, Can we get a new chair, please. But like 10 years ago, I'll be like, oh, I'll sit here and then I'll be in terrible pain by the end of the day. And, you know, and it's just little things like that can make a huge difference. But then yeah, just the, you know, working, who in their 13th or 14th hour of working is doing their best work. You know, it's just crazy. And I remember I did one project. And this is the other thing is I remember I did one project where they said we absolutely have to have it to the BBC at Friday morning, the executives has to watch it or he's not going to he's going on hold, he is not going to watch it and then it won't be able to go on TV and blah, blah, blah. So being the producer worked for a Director Producer worked up for 36 hours straight, literally didn't leave the room for this is our button, go to the loo had lunches brought to us all over. And by the end of it like the 35th hour or whatever, we couldn't talk and I was just pressing the buttons really slowly, you know, the stuff that if we'd, if we just gone to bed and come back again, and it would have happened really, really quickly. But we got it done, sent it off, went home, came back in the afternoon, what do they think about it? Oh, they didn't watch it. In the end, they had to do something else. So they're gonna watch it next week. That was a real watershed moment for me because I realized, if I don't look after myself, then no one else is going to. And so what I really respect about you, and what you've been doing is you've been really encouraging people to kind of take control of their lifestyle as part of their work. So not eating at your desk, having you know, enforcing these kind of personal things that really help in making sure that you have a window in your room. And you know, all these kind of things are just so important. They seem silly. But you know, when you're doing it for so long, it really makes a big difference.

Zack Arnold 47:56

It does and what it all comes back to, to kind of circle back to something you said earlier, is the power and importance of the word No.

Jim Page 48:03


Zack Arnold 48:04

It's scary. And I know that a lot of people would say about both you and me. Me specifically, because I know people have said this. Well, sure. You can say no, you edit Cobra Kai, you've been doing this for 20 years, you don't know what it's like to be in my position where I can't say no to everything. When I was 24 years old, two years into this industry, not even probably a year and a half into the industry. I was offered a six figure position at a trailer company. And I said no, for a job that paid 500 bucks a week flat seven days a week to edit a feature film. And that one no change the trajectory of my whole career because I knew that long term. I wanted to cut long form scripted narrative. I didn't want to work in the trailer in the promo world. And that was terrifying. Because Finally, I was going to make all this money and I was going to start working on bigger and better films. It was a new company that was recruiting me that was working on a list Hollywood movies. And I was just like, no, this is this isn't who I want to be in the lifestyle that I want to lead. Because I know myself, if I'm not emotionally and creatively engaged with something that is a rapid path to burnout and depression, because I just I don't like doing it. So I have to find that I'm connected with something which comes back to I have to take responsibility for either showing up as the best version of myself, or the worst version. And I would have been making sick money hating my job, which would have made my work worse, which would have made my relationships with my co workers very strange, because they're thinking, dude, you could do this, but why do you make it so hard? Right, that's part of the responsibility.

Jim Page 49:38

Same for me. When I didn't have that amount of self awareness that new into the industry. Like I said, I was just doing anything. But I came to a point in like, I was doing a lot of factual TV. And you know, I was making a lot of money doing it. I just I was so killing my soul. Really. I just did not care about it. And I felt guilty because there were people around me who really did care about it and And I kind of got to a point where I thought, well, now I'm gonna have to, we have to start turning stuff down. And so people were, you know, I was in demand as a factual TV, you know, slightly different to do documentaries, I'm still I still really loved doing documentaries, but like just to kind of run of the mill kind of factual stuff. I just, I just didn't care about it. And so I made a decision that I'm going to stop saying, No, I'm just gonna say no to these things, because and then that allowed me time and space to do more, like indie films, and I started doing TV drama over here. And I don't think I would if I had stayed where I was living, whether it was his production company, you know, who were all lovely people, and I missed them a great deal, but it just was doing something I didn't want to do, you know, but it took me longer than it obviously took you, you know, it took me to do it, and then realize that I didn't want to do it. So I'm very, very envious of you having that kind of foresight, because I definitely would have gone Oh, yeah, I'll do that.

Zack Arnold 50:55

It wasn't an easy decision. But if I, if I were to reverse engineer from where I am now, all the way back to where I started, all of the major turning points in my career, were all because I said no to something else. And I talked about this with Michelle Tesoro recently. And I can put a link in the show notes for that, where she's on the biggest shows on Netflix and the Queen's Gambit and all these other things, winning all the awards. But she ended up where she was because a series of very strategic noes along the way the gods are to the right, yeses. Same thing with me. And if you really reverse engineer a lot of people that are successful, the noes were way more important than any of the yeses. But it takes courage to use the word no, right?

Jim Page 51:35

Yeah. And I've really only had that courage in the last few years. And perhaps you're right, there's been a few times when things have kind of moved forward, you know, I've maybe made more progress in what I'm doing now than I did in the first 10 years. Because I've started allow creating that space for me personally, but also creating that space and time to be able to do a BBC drama, even though I could fill my year with doing factual TV, but like saying, Well, I'm not going to do I've got a BBC drama in three months time, I'm going to find some stuff in the meantime. But I really want to do that. So I'm not going to spend all that time, it's that burden, the hand versus two in the bush thing is, you know, one of the two in the bush, if you really want the thing that's in the bush, then you have to you have to let go the burden your hand. But yeah, so that's a really tortured metaphor that is, but you know.

Zack Arnold 52:21

I know exactly what you're saying, which actually sets me up perfectly for where I want to conclude our interview today, which is better understanding going forwards, how we set you up for success instead of failure. And I'm going to frame it by making it very clear that I don't think you failed at this last job where you got fired. I think it's a tremendous failure of leadership. And this team that didn't have the foresight to realize you're more valuable to us with one day off, than if we just replace you. And we start over with somebody new. So the failure, I think, is on their part with failure of leadership. But at the same time, going back to this concept of responsibility, if we really want to set you up for success going forwards, working with exactly the right people on the right projects, where you can be completely authentic about the value you bring, but also the liabilities that are part of that value. What can you do going forward? So you never have to worry about circumstances like this again, how do we get you started?

Jim Page 53:15

But it's a tricky question, isn't it? It's a tricky one.

Zack Arnold 53:18

Indeed, is a very tricky question. But it's the one that so many people are asking when their situation.

Jim Page 53:23

And that's what I've bought really is it's the practical stuff, a few different things. One is having work hours that are reasonable and not not pushing you to kind of stress immediately. So people going how are we you know, you we expect to do 12 hours a middling? Well, how about we leave those long hours until it becomes a bit of a problem and just like do a normal day, so that you can have a life outside of work. And then you can bring that to your work, but the idea of like, and then you kind of expand that out into maybe you have four day weeks, or four and a half day weeks, to kind of allow it maybe you kind of lengthen the schedule by a week, you don't have to pay me more. But you can just say, well, we're going to have a bit of flexibility within that time, maybe a day here or there to know that okay, Jim's not going to come in today. That's fine, we've allowed for that. And that's all going to be fine. And then I think it's it's also like an employer bringing that up to you, rather than it being on your shoulders to kind of admit something, because that's terrifying to me. You know, who in their right mind at this point is going to? Right? mind? Good, good? Yeah, who in their right mind is going to go to an employer? Oh, by the way, I've got mental health problems. Well, that's immediately, you know, screwed up your CV and in the middle, isn't it? So no one's going to admit it, even though a lot of people say oh, you know, you should really, you know, disclose these things. No one's gonna do that. But if they bring it up to you and say, Look, you know, we're not going to ask you whether you have mental illness problems, but if you do, then we're very, you know, empathetic to that and we're here to help you and, you know, we'll bring you on board and, you know, and not as a trick question to kind of weed you out, but to actually be there. I'll give My sister is a care worker in a home. And they've been brilliant, they've reduced her hours, she actually said to them, you know, I've got this issue, I just need to deal with it a little bit. And they said, that's absolutely fine, we're going to reduce your hours significantly, you know, we're not going to, you know, lower your pay on thing was going to reduce your hours, were going to pay for you to have 10 sessions of therapy. And they were just so kind and so supportive that that then made her more able to get back to work. But it's this kind of constant fear that if you tell someone then you are weak, if you tell someone then you are unreliable, but you are somehow separate to the rest of the team, you know that there's gone well, we will not give Jim the good episode in case he doesn't turn up, you know, all that kind of stuff. I think it's a series of little things. But also, the big thing really, I think is, is being able to have right as a freelancer. And obviously, it's different from country to country, but rice is a freelancer that are equal to being a staff member. If I was a staff member, and I went to someone who said, Look, I need a couple of days off for illness, they couldn't find me. But as a freelancer, they can, they can just say, well, we're not going to bring you back in at all that is properly addressed. And that fear of being of losing your livelihood is addressed. That's really the big thing. And that, but that can doesn't necessarily have to be the government saying that or it can be company saying, look, we're going to be, you know, we're going to change our attitude to this whole thing. We're not going to drive people into the ground, we're going to, you know, the economy is what the name of this chapter is. But there's a bloke multimillionaire owner of this company that reduced his salary right down and gave all his employees kind of the same salary, and change their working benefits and change their hours. And I think they were like three or four days a week and his productivity just shot up. Because suddenly everyone felt known do they feel kind of wanted, but they felt supported, the fear of it went away. When you're not frightened? Do you feel like you can do things, it's the fear that stops you from doing stuff, especially in the creative industry, where you feel like you need to do something, you need to get this done, or I'm going to get fired, or I'm getting or things aren't gonna have, you know, it's weird that, you know, we work in an industry, where, which is all about telling stories and communicating emotions, and talking about the truth of humanity and all that kind of stuff. And it was, so we find it too difficult to do that, together. As an industry.

Zack Arnold 57:22

The majority of what you just mentioned are things that are outside of your personal control. And I think that there's a really important thing that you alluded to that is within your control that's going to help you move forwards and help everybody else move forwards and at least start to affect the smallest amount of change to make this happen. And I think that's better communication, because that we can't control. And you're right, you can't just go into an interview yet, maybe someday you can. But yet, you can't walk in and say, I'm really excited about this project. But by the way, on a regular basis, I deal with anxiety and mental health and depression. And you're just going to have to deal with that. Nope, like you said, you're going to be put at the bottom of the bed, and they're never going to consider you. And I also don't think that a company in our very new future is going to say, listen, we don't know if you have mental health issues or not. But if you do, you're totally covered and taken care of. I don't think they're going to do that either. But I think there's, there's a version of communication, where you can flip this a little bit, and you can take control of it. And I've used this strategy before I actually used it in my interview for Cobra Kai of all places. I didn't say to them, Hey, guys, I'm not going to work long hours. I'm not into the nights and the weekends. And I want to have a fairly normal work schedule. Because otherwise, if you work me too much, I know that I'm going to get into a really bad place. I've been there before, I need to make sure that doesn't happen. I never would have said that to them. But instead, I framed it as such. I said, Listen, I want to be the absolute best for the show possible. So I need to better understand what are your expectations of me? Do you guys like to give notes at 9pm? And you need them, you know, delivered 9am The next morning? Like, do you guys spent 14, 16 hours a day in the edit suite? Like how does the process work? If If I need an afternoon off to go see my daughter in a recital? How do you guys handle all that? So I got a very clear picture of what they expected of me. And they said, Oh, you're kidding. Now we hate working long hours. And we've got kids, you need to take a day off to do something with your family. Like we're not going to we don't want to let you miss those moments. We know how important those are. So I knew by setting that expectation and starting the conversation in the interview, I was going to be protected. It's still a hard job and it's still as long hours in their periods in the trenches. But over the long haul, they treat it like a marathon where we have to pace ourselves properly. As opposed to I want you to sprint the whole marathon just because Hurry, hurry, hurry, like that's the way the business works. But it's because I framed it as I want to come in here the best that I can be. And these are kind of the non negotiables that are going to make it hard for me to do that. And if they had said listen, we own you. You're going to be here 24 seven, I would have said no to the job even though I knew it was my dream gig to edit, I would have had to say no, because I, I just I know the path I would have been down and I would have been setting myself up for failure, which is selfish to them, because I would have set them up for failure and needing to replace me anyway. So I think the one area where we can control it, and if we collectively all learn how to do this better, we're putting ourselves in positions where we're the right fit, and we're not setting unrealistic expectations, and other people aren't putting them on us as well, then you don't get to this point where they're like, Oh, you need to day off sorry, you're out of here.

Jim Page 57:22

It makes a lot of sense. Things. Someone said to me a while ago, and I think about this a lot is that you can't control the world around you, all you can do is control your reaction to it. And that has really helped me that kind of that phrase, because it's allowed me to be able to kind of look at it from a different position and be able to say to people to know what I am and what I'm not be able to kind of find, like you say find out from other people. Again, they go back to the thing is it that's what was so kind of frustrating about this situation was because I thought they were one way, but they weren't. But you know, it's a lesson to learn. And that's really interesting that you did that with, you know, answer to high profile thing, you know that you have the kind of the gumption and the, you know, the the self confidence to go, No, this is this is kind of how I need it to be, and but also to frame it in a way that is beneficial to them. You know, that's a kind of a leap of faith.

Zack Arnold 1:01:26

It's always about how do I provide value to these people first, but here are the expectations and return in order for me to be able to do that, I know that I can't do a great job, if they just expect me to work 12 hour days, every single day, I'm going to suck, I know that I'm going to suck because I've been in that position. And I know how quickly I go to a place where I'm unproductive. And I'm anxious, and I'm irritable. And I just can't generate ideas. So I know for a fact I'm wired to produce much better work for 45 hours a week than 60 hours a week. But again, industrial revolution mentality, we're paying you for 60 even though they're not but they think they're paying us for 60. So we need to get our money's worth. That's the biggest fallacy of the way that we work is now as workers right now, in my opinion.

Jim Page 1:02:09

Yeah, absolutely. I think he's, you know, we all go into this business, you know, because we love, you know, love films or TV or whatever. And, you know, we expect there's a certain expectation, and there's a certain need to kind of work long hours. And you know, we're paid enough to kind of to be big enough to be enough to deal with a certain amount of that. It's it's the kind of it's the relentlessness of it. And the kind of the lack of kind of give and take that this has changed, I think is I'm really happy to work really super hard on things. If I feel valued. And part of feeling valued is when someone says to you, I can see that you've got an issue. And I'm going to help you overcome that.

Zack Arnold 1:02:42

Before we wrap up. One last question. What's next for you now knowing all of the things you do about this previous company and the conversation we've had today? What's next for you? Where are you going to go from here?

Jim Page 1:02:53

Well, on a, on a personal level, I'm looking at kind of therapy options, because I was doing therapy before. And that's all came to an end. And now I'm sort of looking at, yes, or self help things. I'll probably have a chat with you about your programs, because

Zack Arnold 1:03:09

That dialog is always open.

Jim Page 1:03:10

Yeah, cuz that's something we've discussed about on email before. And it's something I'd really like to do. And sort of professionally, I've got a feature I'm doing soon. But another one that's coming out for what an interview for a big British TV series coming up. So fingers crossed, you know, things are, things are looking up but and also, like over here are locked down is starting to end. We can go out into the sunshine. So yeah, I'm feeling pretty positive about things. Yeah. So I'm alright.

Zack Arnold 1:03:37

Well, I'm glad to hear that with everything that's transpired recently, there are more opportunities in front of you and you're feeling optimistic, rather than a man like, I can't believe I shared that Twitter post my career's over, because that's what most people have in their heads. If I share this, my career is over and you're proof positive that if anything, you're gonna have so many good things to come to you because of this open vulnerability, then had you just hidden it.

Jim Page 1:03:59

It's funny, I've had a lot of lovely people contact me and it has hardened me. And I still kind of feel maybe I'm just I was just too stupid to not realize the effect it would have on me, but, but I'd rather I guess I'd rather be unemployed and honest, than sort of live a lie, I suppose. And, you know, not everyone feels that way. But I'm sort of pathologically honest, I can't I can't pretend you know, I don't have a poker face. And so, so I'm, you know, ultimately I think I'm, I'm glad if nothing else, I've got an extra 400 Twitter followers and that's what's important in life is that.

Zack Arnold 1:04:34

Followers and likes it's all about the followers and likes if you if you're going to be anything in life that's worthwhile. It's being an influencer, that gets more followers and for all the likes in the world. That's what the world is all about.

Jim Page 1:04:44

Little hits of dopamine. Every time that counter just ticks up. That's Yeah, so

Zack Arnold 1:04:49

For anybody listening, your self worth should be tied to your number of followers and the number of likes you get on a daily basis. If you're not not feeling good about yourself. Social media is the best place To be free.

Jim Page 1:05:01


Zack Arnold 1:05:02

It's funny because we're at least recording this The day after April Fool's Day. so elated April Fool's all BS. But I the if there was ever a way to close it, I just I want to hammer this point home that you just said it's I mean a brilliant quote, I would rather be unemployed and honest then living a lie, accepting that and living that I think you're going to find is going to help you manage your mental health and your anxiety a lot going forwards. That was that was once I started to accept that as well, even though it makes life a little bit more challenging at times, and it makes decisions more difficult. Being willing to accept that I would rather continue to be honest to myself and my capabilities than lie about them just for the sake of employment. That's what leads to unhappiness and discontentment and burnout. So that that's, that's a huge, huge lesson, I think, for everybody to take away from this.

Jim Page 1:05:50

Well, I'm glad I've somehow helped. I'm actually it's been nice, you know, all these people have contacted me. And, you know, they've said to me, you know, just by you saying that as helped them. And you know, that was a sort of unexpected byproduct. But that has hardened me a little bit, I think is that if nothing else, I've been able to help a few people feel a bit better about themselves. And, you know, how often does social media do that? So

Zack Arnold 1:06:11

Exactly, which is essentially the how my entire business model came about. I was just writing and podcasting just because I needed to get it off my chest and realize, you know what, I'd rather spend my days empowering people and making them feel better and providing them value than just trying to earn all the accolades and the money in the credits all by myself. And here I am today. So that that could be a very valuable realization for you down the road as well.

Jim Page 1:06:33

Yeah, I think so. I think so.

Zack Arnold 1:06:34

So that having been said, if somebody is listening to this, and they're inspired by your story, they want to connect with you. They want to find you on social media, like what what's the best way if somebody says, I need to talk to Jim or learn more about him? How do they do so

Jim Page 1:06:46

Best way is on Twitter really, um, it's @IamJimpage. I'm on Facebook as well, Jim Page Editor, you can look at my work on my website, Jimpage.co.UK, although at the moment, it's down because I'm sort of updating it. But hopefully, by the time this comes out, it will be back up again. But yeah, I am Jim paid on Twitter or Instagram. My DMS are open, I'm always happy to have a chat with people, I do a bit of mentoring with students as well. So if there's this kind of younger people who might want a bit of advice, or whatever, then, you know, get in touch.

Zack Arnold 1:07:16

I love it. Well, I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to chat with me today. This was I knew that this was going to be a good one. But I had a feeling you were going to be willing to go deep and provide some really good introspection, and you did all that more. So super happy that we were able to make this happen. And again, I applaud you for having the courage to be honest about your situation, which empowers other people to feel like they can do the same. I think that's really valuable. So I really thank you for doing that.

Jim Page 1:07:41

Thank you so much. I really appreciate you, you bringing me on board.

Zack Arnold 1:07:44

Before closing up today's show, I would love to ask for just a couple additional minutes of your time and attention to introduce you to one of my new favorite products created by my good friend Kit Perkins, who you may recognize as creator of the topo mat. Here's a brief excerpt from a recent interview that I did with Ergodriven co founder and CEO Kit Perkins, talking about his latest product, new standard whole protein.

Kit Perkins 1:08:08

I'm into health and fitness generally, but I want it to be simple and straightforward. bout a year, year and a half ago, I started adding collagen into my protein shakes. And man the benefits were like more dramatic than any supplement I've ever seen. So I thought if I can just get this down to coming out of one jar, and its ingredients that I know I can trust and you just put it in water. And you don't have to think about it.

Zack Arnold 1:08:28

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 1:08:35

So big part of what we're talking about here is you are what you eat. Your body is constantly repairing and rebuilding and the only stuff it can use to repair and rebuild is what you've been eating. Unfortunately, as the years have gone by every day getting out of bed, it's like you know two or three creeks and pops in the first couple steps and that I thought you just sort of live with now but yeah, one starting the collagen daily or near daily, it's just gone. So for us job 1A here was make sure it's high quality, and that's grass fed 100% pasture raised cows. And then the second thing if you're actually going to do it every day, it needs to be simple, it needs to taste good.

Zack Arnold 1:09:08

Well my goal is that for anybody that is a creative professional like myself that's stuck in front of a computer. Number one, they're doing it standing on a topo mat. Number two, they've got a glass of new standard protein next to them so they can just fuel their body fuel their brain. So you and I, my friend, one edit station at a time are going to change the world.

Kit Perkins 1:09:26

And even better for your listeners with code optimize on either a one time purchase for that first Subscribe and Save order 50% off so if you do that, Subscribe and Save that's 20% off and 50% off with code optimize it's a fantastic deal.

Zack Arnold 1:09:40

If you're looking for a simple and affordable way to stay energetic focused and alleviate the chronic aches and pains that come from living at your computer. I recommend new standard whole protein because it's sourced from high quality ingredients that I trust and it tastes great. to place your first order visit optimizeyourself.me/newstandard and use the code optimize for 50% off your first order.

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. Don't forget to visit optimizeyourself.me/podcast. As a quick reminder if you would like to improve your focus, learn to set stronger boundaries and eliminate distractions, and most importantly get higher quality work done in less time. Don't forget to enroll in my four part deep work masterclass. To do so, simply visit optimizeyourself.me/deepwork. All one word, no spaces. And a special thanks to our sponsors Evercast and Ergodriven for making today's interview possible. To learn more about how to collaborate remotely without missing a frame. And to get your real time demo of Evercast an action visit optimizeyourself.me/evercast. And to learn more about Ergodriven and my favorite product for standing workstations to topo mat 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.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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Guest Bio:


Jim Page

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Named a Berlinale Talent in 2021, and a BAFTA Crew Talent for 7 years running, Jim Page has 15 years of experience cutting features, shorts, documentaries. His work includes feature “The Pugilist” which was nominated for the Michael Powell Award at the Edinburgh Film Festival, whilst short “No More Wings” won best film at Tribeca, and”Hair Cut” was longlisted for a BAFTA. His work has drawn praise from David Fincher, Mark Romanek and David Yates amongst others. In addition to his cinematic work, he is also a respected editor of documentaries.

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, and the show notes were prepared by Debby Germino and published by Glen McNiel.

The original music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Joe Trapanese (who is quite possibly one of the most talented composers on the face of the planet).

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Note: I believe in 100% transparency, so please note that I receive a small commission if you purchase products from some of the links on this page (at no additional cost to you). Your support is what helps keep this program alive. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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).”