Safe Sets: Dying to Work in the Film Industry

Boston, Massachusetts | Film Feature


Paul Heinzelmann

1 Campaigns | Massachusetts, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $16,110 for post-production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

37 supporters | followers

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Film workers are demanding more. Not only more money, but more dignity, safety, respect and support from employers. Safe Sets supports them by shedding a bright light on many serious systemic problems in the industry that urgently need to be resolved. Help us give them a bigger platform!

About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
  • Community

Mission Statement

Safe Sets dives into sleep deprivation, substance addiction, toxic exposure, abuse of power, accidents and more, supported by stock, newsreel, and behind-the-scenes photos and footage. The film conveys hope that the tireless work of advocates within the industry will spark change for the better.

The Story

Safe Sets: Dying to Work in the Film Industry is a feature length exploration of systemic issues impacting the health and wellbeing of film workers. Produced and directed by Paul Heinzelmann, a physician and former clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School, this film was shot in Boston, Los Angeles, Oakland, and Vancouver.

The film weaves together candid interviews with technicians, union representatives, public health experts, and notable performers (Jon Hamm and John Malkovich) with the story of Dr. Paul's effort to conduct research into health and safety in the film industry.

The cumulative impacts of sleep deprivation, toxic exposure, stress, long hours, accidents and other issues we explore in Safe Sets are not only detrimental and unhealthy, but potentially deadly for film workers. Stunts-gone-wrong and other accidents happen all the time on film sets. Not just the ones that make the news – workers die with such regularity that the life expectancy of film workers is estimated by some to be many years shorter than the national average. Additionally, workers frequently succumb to untreated injuries, illnesses, substance use dependencies and mental health issues because they lack the time and resources to schedule medical appointments or to simply rest and heal.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In many other countries – even on some North American productions – great content is created in normal 8 to 10 hour work days. Workers have time to decompress, rest, spend time with loved ones, and indulge in recreational hobbies. A well-rested, happy worker is less prone to accidents, less likely to be abusive or be abused, and less vulnerable to dangerous mental and physical health issues. They are apt to thrive – not just survive.

We're in the final phase of post-production. Your support will fund high-quality editing, mesmerizing color grading, captivating music, and impeccable sound design, and will help us secure the necessary rights and licenses for archival footage and music, adding depth and authenticity to the narrative. Additionally, administrative support is essential for the seamless execution of our project, ensuring that every detail is handled with precision and care.

Your generosity will also help to fuel our marketing efforts. From film festival submissions that open doors to global audiences to the creation of compelling promotional materials, your support is the key to making our project stand out. Targeted outreach campaigns will amplify the message, ensuring that Safe Sets reaches its intended audience and makes a lasting impact.

We're on the cusp of completing the fine cut, with only a few temporary graphics standing between us and cinematic perfection. Your contribution will help us get there faster – let's bring this vision to life together! Color correction and audio mastering are the final touches that elevate our project to its full potential, and your support makes this possible.

Join us in the final stretch of this creative process – your support is not just an investment in a film; it's a testament to the power of community and shared passion for safer workplaces. Together, let's make this dream a reality!


Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Completion of fine cut

Costs $4,000

With only a few temporary graphics remaining, we're so close - help us get er done!

Color Correction & Audio Mastering

Costs $10,000

These critical finishing touches will really help it stand out on the big screen!

Packaging and Marketing Materials

Costs $4,000

We need to upgrade our communications to get the best possible distribution deal.

Administrative Support

Costs $2,000

Our support team is critical to implementing our marketing plan. Help us keep them!

About This Team

Director and Executive Producer Paul Heinzelmann is a practicing primary care doctor, additionally trained in public health at the Harvard School of Public Health. Over the years of providing medical support on sets, he gained a deeper understanding of how film and TV production operates. It became clear that systemic factors were creating unique risks to those working in this industry and sharing these observations has become an important call to action in his career.

Producer Azadeh Nikzadeh is a Middle Eastern writer, director, producer, and women’s rights activist. She wrote, directed, and produced award-winning films including feature documentaries Banned and The Credible Fear. She has won multiple fellowships and awards such as the Women Empowerment Fellowship, Asian Film Academy Fellowship from the Busan IFF, Athena Film Festival Writing Lab, and an Honorable Mention at the Charlotte Film Festival.

Richard Levien has been writing, directing and editing award-winning films for 18 years. His motion graphics work for the Center for Investigative Reporting earned him a national Emmy nomination. Levien's short film Immersion premiered at Slamdance, and won Best Bay Area short film at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Levien's debut feature film as a writer / director, Collisions premiered at the Mill Valley Film Festival in October 2018, and won the Audience Award (US Independent Cinema: Gold). It has gone on to win 13 awards from 19 festivals. Levien is from New Zealand and is one of the few New Zealanders who played no part whatsoever in the making of the Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit. He has a PhD in theoretical physics from Princeton University.

Current Team