Can We Talk About Pre-Shoot Anxiety?

By Caleb Rexius

I remember my first paid shoot like it was yesterday. In fact, it was 11 years ago.

Up to this point, all of my shooting and filming was essentially just for fun. 

There was no pressure; I just needed to get whatever shot I could, and it would all work out in the end.

“That mentality changed (I guess it had to change) when I started to get paid.”

I remember as the shooting day got closer, I started 2nd guessing like…everything. 

Did I hire the right model? 

Do I have all the right props? 

Can I execute what I said I could produce? 

What if the weather changes? 

What if I’m awkward to the talent during the shoot? 

Am I even good at making videos? 

Maybe I just got lucky in the past, but maybe really I just suck?

I’m serious. These are the kinds of questions and voices that went through my head then (11 years ago), and they still do now. 

And whether you’re behind a camera directing, producing, or assisting, or whether you’re in front of camera as talent, I have to think that lot’s people deal with this, and it’s just not talked about enough. Especially in filmmaking.

“…it’s just not talked about enough…especially in filmmaking.”

I’m years and years into my career, and I still get nervous about my work, projects, clients, and finances. But specifically, I’ve found there’s a uniqueness to this “pre-shoot anxiety” that I feel. 

And listen, I’m not a mental health professional and I haven’t been diagnosed with anything. 

I’m just trying to work out in my mind why I feel this way, nearly every shoot, and how I can prevent it.

Shooting is fun. I like my job. I just want to blissfully enjoy it like I once did. 

I can’t be alone on this; there has to be more people out there, like me, who deal with pre-shoot anxiety.

And it could be that the fix for you is simple. Maybe you just have to prepare more, take better care of yourself, cut back the coffee, hydrate more often, communicate better with your clients, visualize, breathe, or meditate – all of those elements of preparation.

That could be enough for you.

In fact, when I researched this topic, I found a billion articles suggesting just that. 

But for me, it’s something more. And maybe it’s something more for you, too.

So what I want to offer today is not a solution to fix this, because I don’t think I have that answer. 

But what I do have is perspective. My perspective. 

“When I can remind myself of that perspective in those moments, I can relax, be more calm, enjoy the moment, and can see the bigger picture with more clarity.”

Perspective #1 – I Chose This.

I was a business finance major at the University of Oregon (Sco Ducks!). 

I didn’t pick up a camera until I was 25. That first paid video job was such a blessing to me, and it continues to be. 

I can’t do the suit and tie. 

I can’t do it. 

Some of you can. More power to you. I can’t, I tried and I can’t. 

So I chose this. 

And it’s provided for me and my family. 

And it’s been good. 

And like any job, there’s stressful moments. 

But I chose this.

Perspective #2 – Failure Is A Learning Experience. 

I can stress a lot about failure. 

And man, those big fails hurt in the moment. But in hindsight (years down the road), I’m the filmmaker I am now, I’m the entrepreneur I am now, because of my mistakes made early on, and having the discipline and awareness to correct them. 

And something cool happened over the past decade: I’m not afraid to fail.

“I love winning, I promise I won’t lie, I love winning.”  

I love succeeding. I love getting things right. 

But man, I am not afraid of failure anymore. 

I’ve done it enough to know you can recover, and you can get better for the next time and the next opportunity. 

Failing is just learning. It’s a learning experience. 

Perspective #3 – Your Career Is Not Who You Are.

In seasons when I am overly busy, overwhelmed, and working too much, my identity becomes where my hours and energy live. 

So when I’m working all the time, and I mess up creatively or financially (or if I have a bad month of revenue), that really hurts. Especially if my identity is wrapped up in my work, if my work is where I find my value. 

But, it doesn’t hurt nearly as much if I know who I am

So who are you? 

Film and entrepreneurship are things I do, but not who I am. 

It’s not who you are, either. John, Jane, or Josephine (or whomever is watching this and struggling with work-related anxiety), just know you’re more than that

You’re enough, just who you are. 

Even if you do suck at your job, and you’re not creative, and you’re failing. 

You’re still enough. 

You have something to offer. 

You might need to find a different path to pay the bills, but that’s ok. 

This isn’t who you are. And it’s not who I am. 

I’m a dad, husband, brother, son, and friend. That’s who I am. 

Way before I’m Caleb the filmmaker, Caleb the entrepreneur, or Caleb the artist. 

That’s who I am. That’s my perspective.

And this all may seem real philosophical and conceptual, but that’s how I deal with some of those nerves:


So, if nothing else, I hope that after reading this, you have a better perspective. I hope you’re encouraged, and I hope you can see that you’re not alone.

Now, let’s go have some fun and make cool stuff with a fresh perspective.

You can watch the video here:

Caleb is the Founder and Lead Cinematographer at Filmpac.


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