ADG partners with Screen Well to put focus on work/life balance

Ben Steel.

The Australian Directors’ Guild (ADG) and Screen Well are currently running a survey to better understand work/life balance for directors.

The results will inform an upcoming webinar, to be delivered by Screen Well founder Ben Steel, which will look at strategies to manage the issue, as well as how directors can assist the wellbeing of their crew/cast more broadly.

Steel tells IF the survey is important so Screen Well has a specific understanding of what is going on for the director cohort and can come up with evidence-based support and interventions. The results of the survey will be revealed at the webinar on October 10, World Mental Health Day.

Questions cover off on how workplace conditions, including hours and time spent away from home, impact on directors’ social lives, relationships and sleep. It also asks about directors’ consistency of work, juggling caring and parental responsibilities, and mental health and emotional wellbeing more broadly. It takes around 4-6 minutes to complete.

“Work/life balance… if it’s not in order, leads to fatigue, burnout and mental health problems,” Steel says.

“If we understand what’s going on, we can improve things so people don’t go down that path… Work/life balance also feeds into retention rates of staff in our industry.

“That’s not to say that we can solve all those problems overnight, but once we understand what’s happening, then we can maybe propose alternative ways of thinking; things to consider when you’re going to be busy working on a project, or if you are waiting to get a project off the ground, what you can be doing in the meantime to make sure that you are maintaining healthy relationships, exercise and activities that bring you joy.”

Further, the survey asks questions around how comfortable directors feel having mental health conversations with cast and crew.

Mental health has come into sharp focus for the ADG in the wake of COVID. Executive director Alaric McAusland tells IF the guild has also reflected on the Australian Cinematographers Society’s recent A Wider Lens report, which found many workplace conditions negatively impacted camera professionals wellbeing, and saw a need for a greater understanding for what was happening with its members.

McAusland notes directors face unique pressures given their on-set leadership role, exacerbated by the fact that they – like many other screen professionals – largely work production-to-production, with many experiencing stress via job insecurity.

“It’s timely that we put focus on their mental health and wellbeing,” he says.

Steel hopes to eventually role out the work/life balance survey to other cohorts of the industry, noting each role faces individual challenges and quirks.

The survey and October 10 webinar are open to any directors working in Australia, not just ADG members. Survey responses are anonymous. Only de-identified data will be reported.

Those attended the recent Director’s Cut conference will be able to attend the webinar for free.

Complete the survey here.