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  • Writer's pictureMark Caldwell

Rolling with the 2023 Strikes

We are well over half way through this year and, as for so many people, 2023 hasn't been the smoothest ride has it. Plus the number of different social media apps we have to deal with on a daily basis appears to be increasing exponentially, which adds to the stress if you're trying to get on top of self promotion as a freelancer. But I figured it was a good time for a long over due professional/personal update after the last year and to keep me honest with my goals for the next year.

A cartoon of people playing on exercise equipment with a caption that reads, 'Film workers staying prepared to work when there's no work in sight'

My year started with around 3–4 months of older family member health crises, then my wife and I both had Covid, followed by a slow attempt to start the year, for real this time, in May. The film & TV industry hadn't moved very far due to all the industrial issues, and as for my Unscripted peeps, you have my absolute sympathies. The APA has been pretty gloomy over near future prospects too. I had been discussing potential projects with a couple new contacts up until recently and then everything just went very quiet. And after having spoken to various colleagues this seems to have been a very wide spread phenomenon.

But even though it may be quiet right now, it won't last, it always picks up as it's not like companies can hold off making content forever, at some point compromises and agreements have to be made, and money has to be spent.


Firstly, I am back working as a cinematographer, although I’m focusing on paid short-form, promo or commercial work at the moment so if you’re in that area and would like to meet for a coffee or touch base, please do feel free to get in touch. I will be reaching out more myself in the coming months as I am trying to expand my network in those areas moving forward. I'm also involved with the planning stages on longer-form projects, particularly with more socially orientated filmmakers, which has been one of my professional goals so if you are a filmmaker in that area, I’d love to chat with you as well. I appreciate things are slow at the moment so might be a good time to do more networking.

Logo of Cannes Film Festival Official Selection

Amazingly, despite my personal limitations recent years, two productions I was cinematographer on were officially selected at Cannes this year. Which I am very grateful about. I’m also working with a lovely career coach, as another way of keeping myself focused and honest over professional goals.

Logo of BAFTA with BAFTA written down the side vertically

Also, despite having to Shield over the pandemic due to being extremely clinically vulnerable I was also very grateful to have been accepted as a BAFTA Connect member. Which although I had been a member of BAFTA Crew for several years, I was actually genuinely surprised about given a serious lack of output.

Industry Mental Health & Burnout Research

Secondly, after MANY hundreds of you helped me with gathering data for my post-graduate psychology thesis last year in to mental health and burnout within the UK’s film/TV workers, I passed my MSc with Distinction and have since been working to turn that research in to a published paper with the help of my former supervisor, Dr Daniel Rippon.

Photo of Mark Caldwell in graduation gown and mortar board at Northumbria University

Unfortunately all the ongoing strikes this year within academia have meant things have gotten delayed. It is still in the works and progress has been made but it has taken longer than I was hoping. It will be done as soon as possible. Again, thank you to everyone who was involved, I’m incredibly grateful to you all. I know I've had multiple people asking about why I’ve avoided publicly discussing the results, it's just because of wanting to get through the peer review process first and not unduly influencing anything. The short of it is that the industry clearly has problems across the board, things we all basically knew but in a more detailed quantitative way that will hopefully be published. Which we are very short on and once it has gotten through peer review I will put out more about the results and in a more easily read format too, academic papers can be hard going especially if you are not used to reading them.

I'm also working towards doing a PhD, likely in occupational health psychology involving further research around industry mental health of UK film and TV workers but that is still in very early stages. Plus I do want to get in to blogging more during the rest of this year about cinematography and industry mental health more too.

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