Location Managers Guild International

Winter 2022

The Location Managers Guild International (LMGI) is the largest organization of Location Managers and Location Scouts in the motion picture, television, commercial and print production industries. Their membership plays a vital role in the creativ

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Page 39 of 55

40 • LMGI COMPASS | Winter 2022 Confronting Stress Your voicemail is full. A relentless staccato of texts interrupt crucial phone calls. Deadlines come at you like dangerous jibe tacks while impromptu "To Do" lists scatter across your desktop. You're working longer hours and there seems no end to the increasing demands of production. As location professionals, we're all acutely aware of stress in the workplace. Our responsibilities are intense. We joke about it. We take pride in our superhuman endurance. But the truth is, the level of stress that we have come to accept with our jobs can be a serious health hazard. I was unexpectedly hospitalized in the middle of a show recently. From that event, I came to learn that many location professionals suffer stress-related disabilities on the job and feel pressure to hide it. We need to recognize that these issues cannot be ignored. Each of us needs to identify our own personal boundaries and enforce them or suffer unexpected consequences. Last February, I was doing what we all do on a difficult show. As conflicts arose, I simply dug in harder. My personal life was the first to go … the next sacrifice was exercise, then, I cut back on sleep. The producers' mantra of More for Less takes effort. That's normal. It was complicated and difficult, but things were still going well. I'm a pro at maintaining a calm demeanor while achieving one hard-earned success after another. So, it was a complete shock when, during the middle of negotiations in Koreatown, my vision suddenly became fuzzy. The white balance appeared to ramp up in the world around me. I felt sweat soaking my clothes. I thought I had been hit with a sudden fever or food poisoning. I snuck home and started retching. My health status speedily declined. My muscle coordination went next. I was on the ground in a dark room when I began to vomit large amounts of blood and lost consciousness. If my key assistant, Mike Betz/ LMGI, hadn't checked on me, this would be the end of my story. Three liters of blood loss generally leads to cardiac arrest. The doctors called it a near-death situation. I experienced a freak accident known as Mallory-Weiss Syndrome. The retching had split a major artery in my stomach. Mallory-Weiss is generally associated with bulimics or alcoholics. I'm neither. It can also be caused by severe stress. Veteran US diplomat Richard Hollbrooke collapsed and died after a press conference in 2010 from a similar spontaneous internal tear. I was rushed to the emergency room and spent four days in the hospital. I survived and went right back to work. As word got out among my colleagues, other locations professionals began to privately share their stories with me. Almost everyone I spoke with had been in the business 20 years or more and either collapsed on the job or were hospitalized on the job from a stress-induced condition. The majority of incidents were back injuries (not from lifting). A high-profile international location manager tore a back muscle overseas and worked for weeks from a hospital bed. Another manager simply hired a driver after his onset of severe back pain and continued to work from the passenger seat. Key assistant location manager David Park/LMGI recalled a stress-induced event at age 30, while working on set in Los Angeles. "While helping prep a location in downtown, I had a severe rash that broke. It started with my hands and feet and within a matter of 30 minutes, had spread across my entire body and face until I collapsed unconscious on the sidewalk of Wilshire Boulevard next to the grip truck." I heard stories of stress-induced by Chris Baugh/LMGI

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