Updated: Oct 22, 2019
WHEN THE TV SHOW GOES OFF: How Healthy is the Film Industry?
For many, the Film Festival at Cannes, France, exemplifies the glamor of an industry well known for it. Indeed, a job in film and television is perceived to be one of the glitziest careers you can have. Part of the appeal for the thousands who seem to flock to Los Angeles alone is the allure of celebrities, parties, red carpet events and award shows, the potential paychecks and, of course, being part of the creative process.
If the L.A. film community is the draw, then a trip to Cannes represents champagne wishes and caviar dreams come true. When I got the opportunity to go to the Film Festival, I immediately put myself on a strict diet (which didn’t work) and used up an embarrassing amount of my finances to "look the part." Upon my arrival, I felt like I was in a scene from a movie, with every moment being more surreal than the last.
I thought, "If this is the lifestyle, sign me up." Seriously, though, where do I sign my soul away?
Before I made a deal with the devil, I wanted to know if people in this industry are as healthy and happy as the image? Is this life really the stuff that dreams are made of? The conclusion seems to be that except for all but the few pampered stars, life in this apparent fast lane is full of stress and job satisfaction issues, pressures, money woes and questionable lifestyle choices. In short, the glitzy jobs are not so glamorous after all.
Arriving in the south of France tapped into my own insecurities. This is a world of people who are intensely and often professionally attractive.
In Cannes, people are not just dressed for success; they display all they have day and night. It’s a see and be-seen world 24/7, to glimpse, meet or even become a celebrity. For those who think celebrity obsession is at its pinnacle in the U.S., go to Cannes, then go next year...if you (and I) can afford it.
At first blush (and there’s plenty of it) it seems that everyone in the Industry has made it. Here is the reality: plenty of those in attendance are scraping together enough money to afford the south of France, hoping to fulfill a dream that may not be real (including yours truly). Hope, as they say, is unfortunately not a strategy.
After a week at the Film Festival, I found that while virtually everyone is in full-on party mode, it's a skin-deep existence with job satisfaction cloaked behind the smoke and mirrors of the red carpet. Dressed in black tie? Yes, but odds are the tuxedo is a rental. It’s a dog-eat-dog industry and the percentage of those who really make it is very low, with consequential physical and mental stresses along the way. And if a balanced health and wellness lifestyle is the goal, think again. This industry has the same demands as other less “glamorous” jobs.
We have placed the film industry on a pedestal; and the publicity machine is working. Many are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve what appears to be success. There is an intense allure to it all, as well as the vanity and narcissism that come with chasing fame. Australia-based producer and actor, Daniel Findlay, is one of the producers for the movie, Kill Me Three Times. Daniel noted, “Everyone wants to feel like they are somebody important, that they have accomplished something in life, and if they obtain celebrity they will achieve that.” The truth is that only a very few get there.
Amy Willerton was Miss Great Britain 2013 and is a model and reality TV star. We discussed how she is under a microscope with everything that she does.
I asked Amy how she handles the scrutiny of the general public and tabloids, and she revealed that she willingly put herself in the position to be judged. “It is a responsibility that shouldn't be taken lightly. People always come up to me and say, ‘I want to be famous.’ But you need to think about it; it's not a piece of cake. It doesn't mean your life is going to be easy. If anything, it's harder because you have to take responsibility for everything you do.” Amy has been a beauty queen and pageant winner since childhood and has been trained to trade on her considerable looks. Now, some people’s reaction may be that this having to look good all the time and be a beauty queen is a real bitch, but if Amy gains five pounds, or has a zit on her face, EVERYONE notices. Ouch.
Life is one big hypercritical photo op. That’s the world she lives in – a world where women, in particular, are scrutinized.
Still, most people don’t take the entertainment industry very seriously; certainly not as a legitimate form of employment. Actors, producers and directors may receive a proverbial eye roll if they were to call their jobs stressful. Nevertheless, the dozens of attendees I interviewed maintained that the most stressful and challenging aspect of the film industry is the extensive and rigorous hours. It is a grind, and founder of American World Pictures, director and producer Mark Lester indicated that, “you are working 20-hour days and it is really hard to find a balance with that.”