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Friday, January 23, 2004  

The State of the Industry...
...From my current worms-eye view. It is fairly common knowledge that climbing the ladder of film production requires lo or no paying work as a PA (Production Assistant or gopher.) But the theory goes after a couple of these jobs you will start getting paying work and are then on your way to professional crew-dom. But the reality is pretty different. Not only does a newbie in the production realm, even a newbie with a degree in production and resume well stocked with student projects, has to face stiff competition for jobs that don't pay, but these jobs don't hold ANY guaranty of advancement, (though they all come with the promise of advancement.) It has gotten to the point where there are SO many people trying to "break in" to the industry that whole features are being shot without paying ANY crew members. That means 10-20+ people, working 14+ hour days and six day weeks for as much as 25 days. But thats not even the worst part, as freebie jobs often have a good vibe and a crew that it dedicated to the project (you have to be to work those kind of hours for free.) The worst part is jobs that pay, but pay WAY below scale. This creates a crew that is grumpy and bitter about having to work a job so far below what they SHOULD be making, but those are the only jobs around since producers realize they can get away with it. This is WHY there are unions. But the unions are these huge institutions that hold a mythical appeal to all those non-union crew members... The myth goes that once you GET into the union you are set for life, but I know professionals who have worked, and made a living, as crew for YEARS without being able to get into the union. Not my intention isn't to bitch and moan about how hard "breaking in" is. There is no real surprise there, but what is surprising is how quickly things are getting worse industry wide. I have been turned down for un-paying, un-credited jobs because of lack of experience. I have seen listings for internships that require previous inter experience. I have worked on lo/no jobs that go 16+ hours without any explanation or consolation from producers or ADs. I have been blown-off by producers for whom I have worked for free in the past when asking about working for free again. And all this because there are so many people willing to work their ass off for free. It is like a giant workforce of scabs (of which I am one) which hurts EVERYBODY'S chances for work. This whole rant was started when I read a joke-posting on the Craig's List job board. It wasn't the first such posting from another frustrated filmmaker, nor do I imagine it will be the last. So wish me luck in the big-pond, and in the meantime go watch Living in Oblivion.

posted by JMV | 1/23/2004 04:25:00 PM
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