Pressure: How To Get Things Done Without Having A Breakdown

May 7, 2017
Robbie Carman C.S.I.

Pressure is an unavoidable part of being a professional colorist. In this Insight, learn strategies to alleviate pressure so you avoid a complete meltdown!


My Mixing Light colleagues graciously tell me all the time that my ability to multitask is something that they’d like to emulate.

Well geez guys, thank you!

I haven’t fully achieved perfection, but I do take pride in my multitasking skills.

The truth is I work very hard, but every once in a while I do crack and succumb to the pressure of color deadlines, client management, training and yeah my most important jobs – being a husband and dad to two lovely kids.

Over my career, I have worked very hard to keep my proverbial ‘S’ together under sometimes daunting pressure.

Over those years, I’ve discovered several time management, pressure relieving techniques that have helped me.  It’s a few of these that I would like to share in this article.

Some of these techniques are no brainers and accessible to all, and some of them rely on software, and others rely on….well…more cerebral techniques.

Breaking Point

You know what it feels like…

Your neck hurts, you have a headache, you’re irritable, you can’t focus….you just want to break something!

The sad fact of being successful in postproduction is that success comes with pressure.  And while that pressure might seem manageable at first, if you can’t find a release valve the pressure can literally break you.

I can tell you from my own experience that pressure left unchecked will hurt your color skills and hurt your body.

You’ve probably heard the phrase stress kills  – it’s true and if it doesn’t kill, it maims.

At the risk of oversharing, I want so tell you a little bit about my breaking point.  I do this so you know this article is motivated by personal experience and not just another page in a self-help book I read!

About a year & half ago my color correction business was humming. In 2015 we had seen nearly 85% growth compared to the previous year for color work. My business partner handled contracts, finances, and client communication, I had a great assistant and a trusted team of overflow colorists for when things got really slammed.

In short, we were killing it.

In June of 2015 while simultaneously landing a new huge project, my business partner and I decided to go our separate ways. My assistant got a great position in NYC and I was all of a sudden stuck with a pile of admin tasks that I didn’t really know how to do (for 10 years my partner did them), no immediate help for color correction tasks, and a new client with a nearly six-figure 8 month project staring me in the face, not to mention all the clients we had scored from the previous year.

Yikes!

 

I’ve felt just like this guy over the past 18 months or so

 

The way my wife tells people about this time was that ‘he handled it really well’  She’s just being nice!

I cracked.

I wasn’t sleeping, eating crap, gaining weight, getting sick all the time, and in general walked around in a haze.  My color correction work suffered, I lost a client or two and struggled with a way to handle the pressure that was my new reality.

While I had always handled pressure pretty well, I was overwhelmed and needed to find solutions – some of those I’m including in this article.

Keep This In Mind:  It’s Not Life Or Death

Before moving on I want to mention one thing that we tend to overlook in postproduction and finishing.

While deadlines, quality of work, client communication, sales and a variety of other tasks matter, it’s easy to lose perspective.

 

What we do is not life and death. While deadlines, etc., are important no one is going to die.

 

We make TV shows, films, webisodes, ads, corporate videos etc.

Even though when pressure builds it might seem like every decision and move is crucial – the fact is, what we do is not a matter of life and death.

We’re not emergency room doctors or soldiers on the front lines. If you want to feel real pressure find a job where not having your best day could mean someone dies.

I know, I know…I’m being dramatic and a little cliche, but it’s true.

When pressure builds and feels like it’s insurmountable, keep in mind postproduction is not life or death. That perspective is an instant pressure release valve.

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