Surviving an All-Nighter on Set

It’s time. The big all-nighter shoot that you’ve been counting down too. Why is it an all-night shoot? Because your artistic vision requires that everything be shot at night and you don’t have the budget, any budget really, for a studio or a set where you can give the appearance of night. So instead, you’ve got to have the real thing. Most college students will tell you that all-nighters are an inevitability in life, especially if you are an art major. While we here at Narrative will never encourage all-nighters and will tell you that such stress is not good for your body or your creativity; we CAN give you some tips for how to survive it and how to keep your body running as you burn the midnight, the 1am, the 2am, and the 3am oil.

Tip Number 1: Power nap before you go to your shoot. You might be tempted to simply stay awake and not bother trying to fall asleep for a couple of hours but this will greatly help to reduce your body’s decline and help you to feel more awake throughout the rest of the evening. If your shoot begins around midnight, try napping until eleven.

Tip Number 2: Keep yourself fed, but not with carbs or anything too heavy, as this will make you sleepy. Do not indulge in caffeine until later in the evening. Around eleven or twelve is the period that you especially want to avoid drinking caffeinated beverages as it can make you anxious or excited. Try yogurt, smoothies, almonds, pretzels, crackers, cheese, eggs, or anything light that either has fiber or protein.

Tip Number 3: Stay hydrated. Water is your friend. Do not drink soda or energy drinks. This is just a rule of thumb in general. If you feel the need for a caffeinated beverage try chocolate milk. It has sugar and caffeine and is less likely to make you jittery.

Tip Number 4: Keep sweaters and sweatshirts on hand as your body temperature will begin to drop as you try to stay awake during your circadian rhythm cycle. Keep yourself warm but not so much that you fall asleep. Also be sure to layer up if you are shooting outside.

Tip Number 5: Enjoy the experience. You are on a set with your colleagues and friends. Make the experience enjoyable for each other. Take care of your body while you are working so that you are less likely to be irritable and uncomfortable.

Tip Number 6: Avoid sleeping all day once you return as this can throw off your circadian rhythm. Take a short nap during the afternoon and keep yourself awake until about nine o’clock in the evening. Then sleep to your heart’s content. At least until you have to wake up for the next shoot.  

By Mya Anderson