Variable, the Production Company, Is Rebooting as a Wellness Community for Filmmakers
Jon Bregel launched Variable in 2011 as a New York-based production company working with the likes of Nike, Cadillac, Audi, Coca-Cola and Adidas (not to be confused with The Variable, the North Carolina-based creative agency). In 2019, Bregel left the company to focus on his well-being and address burnout and depression. This led to conversations with fellow filmmakers that convinced Bregel he was not alone in his experiences.
Bregel wrote a lengthy and very personal origin story about the pivot, which is well worth the read for anyone in the industry struggling with burnout.
"We've designed Variable to dampen the shame and/or guilt many of us feel when it comes to talking about our emotional, mental, physical and spiritual needs in the context of our jobs as filmmakers," says Bregel. "Having a space to openly share and discuss our thoughts, feelings and experiences has proven to be very therapeutic and empowering, especially given how demanding our industry can be. As a result of sharing experiences openly, deep and meaningful connections are made among industry professionals."
Memberships cost $100 a year, and pre-launch, there's already 250 members. The website is akin to a social media timeline. Featured posts are at the top of the feed, followed by member posts. On your left, members can see who's online, view events (mostly virtual, but beginning IRL) and search through topics.
"We host twice weekly events on topics surrounding the intersection of filmmaking and wellness," Bregel tells Muse. "The events are sort of like group therapy for filmmakers. There isn't that sense of exclusivity where you are just watching a panel of experts talk back and forth; everyone is seen on screen and we open the conversation to everyone involved. This helps strip away the titles that often create disconnection among us. We plan to do more in-person community meetups in other areas of the country [aside from L.A. and NYC, where some events have already taken place] and the world as well. Eventually we will do filmmaker retreats in nature."
Event themes have included topics like "Coping with Rejection," "Thoughts on Therapy," "When to Turn Down Work," "How to Use a Treatment Writer" and "Directing: Freelance vs. Being Signed."
For more about the new Variable, take the five-minute tour below: