The sick thing about it is how easily you get used to it. I remember back to that first day of work and my horror as the hours passed in slow succession and we never seemed to get any closer to getting out. Now I'm looking forward to another day out in the cold and thinking "Well gee, if it only goes 14 hours it won't be so bad." and "Maybe I'll be able to get 5 hours of sleep tomorrow night. I can deal with that."
When you're getting up early enough to leave the house at 5:15 AM and getting home at 10:00 PM if you're lucky, well, it has a way of warping your perceptions. Things that used to seem important cease to matter as much. All those Hollywood types with weird political ideas? At least part of it is because they don't have time to read the newspaper every morning, let alone the energy to actually consider and parse complicated political issues. "Kids should have health care? I guess so. I'm going to pass out now." Of course I'm exaggerating a little bit. Actors get a guaranteed 12 hour turnaround time, meaning that they could turn on CNN if they wanted to, but living in a weird world of plywood sets and makeup chairs does get to you, no doubt.
So why haven't I quit yet? I'm not completely sure. It's not really about the money, there won't be much of it. Part of it is the machismo stuff I talked about, not wanting to admit I can't hack it. Part of it is that I believe the experience will be more useful for me in the long term than staying at home would be. Part of it is the people, there are some cool guys on crew and potentially some contacts out there. Part of it is inertia. I don't have time to sit down and make that sort of big decision. Even during the weekend I am mostly resting or catching up on stuff I missed during the lost week.
I can't honestly say that what I'm doing is bad for me, but I do have some concerns. Mostly I worry that I'm shutting down certain important parts of my life, exercise (no time and my feet ALWAYS hurt) and writing, in order to go an easier route. Yeah working 14 hour days is hard, but it's hard in a sort of mindless and easily motivated way. It's not hard in a self-questioning "Can I do this?" need to self-discipline way. Those are the ways that are most difficult to me.
At least I'm getting some knowledge about the industry. One of my jobs on set has been to sit at the video tent (Where the director of photography sits and monitors the camera inputs) and I've learned some about lighting and framing there. I've also assembled scripts and gotten a chance to read them (which has given me significant confidence boosts in my own writing, which shines in comparison to some of what we're doing.) It's worth sticking it out for awhile to pick up more of that. I guess if the show gets picked up I'll have a decision to make, assuming I don't get fired first, and I'll make it then. For now I'm willing to sacrifice a couple months for the twin benefits of experience and potential contacts. It's not a bad trade.