Opinion

Should The Film Industry Do More To Protect Its Stars?

© Joe Shields

Let’s make no mistake; the life of a big movie star is pretty special. The fame, fortune, and opportunity to make films for a living is something millions can only dream about. Nonetheless, the dangers that on-screen talent faces should not be ignored.

From scandals to bankruptcy, health issues to lawsuits, it seems like a new story breaks each week. So, what are the areas that need attention? Let’s take a look.

Substance Addiction

It seems as though substance abuse is just a natural part of life in the spotlight, but it shouldn’t be that way. Far too many actors – and other celebs – lose their lives due to addiction. Likewise, many more see their lives spiral out of control as a result of alcohol dependence and drug taking.

A dedicated substance abuse treatment can help actors get their lives back on track. Sadly, most are self-employed and not employed directly by a studio. As such, their plights can often get ignored unless the individual seeks help for themselves. Companies and agents should be more open to implementing quick responses.

Or perhaps they should be more proactive in prevention as the best form of protection. Turning a blind eye to substance abuse doesn’t help anyone.

Mental Health Disorders

Whether it leads to substance abuse and self-harm or not, mental health disorders are another issue that must not be ignored. Sadly, living in the spotlight increases the risks. Not least because actors lead a life where they constantly have to worry about their appearances and will make comparisons to others.

It is hardly a new problem, but it has become increasingly problematic in recent years. Social media has given audiences the chance to reshape the industry. While many aspects have a positive impact, there are dangers too. Reading harsh criticisms from viewers can be tough for actors, including those who have tough skins. It also opens up the door to direct abuse.

Whether caused by the opinions of others or self-image issues, mental health issues can have lifelong effects. Whether gained through medication or therapy, help is necessary.

Bankruptcy

A-listers may earn millions of dollars per movie. But they still regularly feature on lists of celebrities that lost everything. While a small percentage can bounce back from bankruptcy, the vast majority will spiral into unwanted situations. While screen actors’ guilds do a lot of great work to support members, financially and otherwise, more needs to be done.

It’s very easy for on-screen talent to fall into the trap of living luxury lifestyles without any concept of money. However, many actors only enjoy a brief spell at the very top. So, unless they have invested money wisely, financial problems can quickly surface once their revenue falls to a more modest level. A varied yet stable portfolio is usually advised.

Sadly, many actors get advice from the wrong people. While it’s ultimately the individual’s responsibility, an education on money and avoiding lavish spending could be key.

Sexual Misconduct

Sexual misconduct has been something of a white elephant in the last few years. Following the big scandals that rocked the showbiz world, it seems the industry has improved. Nevertheless, on-screen talent may still be at risk. Companies must take it upon themselves to set the tone by cultivating a safer environment.

As seen many times, actors may still be in a vulnerable position when trying to land jobs. Conversely, big stars may be falsely accused of wrongdoing by people seeking financial damages or a glimpse of fame. Again, it is the individual’s responsibility to protect themselves but organizations could do more to help.

Instead of simply distancing themselves from individuals, firms should do more. This could prevent incidents altogether. It’d be better for actors and the industry as a whole.

On-Set Hazards

Completing risk assessments for films is a key part of the pre-production phase. Unfortunately, many studios and filmmakers fail to give this assignment the attention it deserves. Instead, they fall into the trap of thinking it’s simply something that needs to be ticked off the checklist. Frankly, it is one of the reasons actors still encounter injuries.

It’s impossible to rule out all injuries. After all, accidents happen while actors may simply trip or fall when recording a scene. However, everyone from Halle Berry to George Clooney and Brad Pitt have been injured on set. If it is allowed to happen to A-list stars, who also boast vast experience, it’s a worry to consider the threats facing new actors.

Thankfully, the days of ‘Roar’ or the ‘Wizard of Oz’ are seemingly in the past. Still, the industry must do more to protect actors – and crew members – from accidents and the fallout.

Up & Down Lifestyle

Acting is an exciting career that offers many, many rewards. Nevertheless, it may introduce a lot of instability. For starters, being in and out of work can be a real challenge for actors while it is often necessary to relocate for short-term roles. This is combined with the fact that many actors go through a harsh cycle of being in and out of the spotlight.

Every actor should be prepared for this before launching their careers. Nonetheless, more could be done to help them deal with the up and down nature of their lives. The value of a strong support network of true friends rather than fakers can’t be overestimated. Actors also need education on how to deal with being in and out of the spotlight.

Actors need to develop a thick skin and learn how to deal with casting rejections. Still, agents should help them cope with disappointment and stay busy when out of work.

The Final Word

Acting is a rewarding career. Moreover, anyone wishing to step into this arena must take accountability for themselves. Still, the list of dangers ranging from on-set disasters to health risks and financial problems shows that more can be done. Now is the time for action.

And by building a better landscape for actors, the benefits will spread throughout the industry too.

FIN Staff

Film Industry Network News Desk

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