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18. A FEW INSIGHTS ON FILM & VIDEO INDUSTRY JOBS – PART 2

May 22, 2013

Dear fresh college grads who are looking to break into the film industry,

I have some good news and some thought-provoking news. First, the good news: the film and video industry looks like it is becoming more favorable to entry-level employees:

Relative Employment in Film and Video Industry - Editors, Multimedia & Animators, Producers & Directors, Writers, Administrative Assistants

Relative Real Median Wages in Film and Video Industry - Editors, Multimedia & Animators, Producers & Directors, Writers, Administrative Assistants

The above figures (data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics) show that for occupations such as “Film & Video Editors”, “Multimedia Artists & Animators”, “Writers & Authors”, “Administrative Support”, and “Producers & Directors” – the number of employees is growing at a higher pace than the industry average, while the median real salary is eroding, compared to the industry average. This means that there is a shift towards entry-level jobs: more busy hands for less pay. That’s good if you are looking to break into the industry (and not so good if you are a replaceable seasoned professional).

And now for the thought-provoking news: take a look at this figure:

Relative Annual HR Expenditure in Film and Video Industry - Editors, Multimedia & Animators, Producers & Directors, Writers, Administrative Assistants

“Annual Expenditure” is basically the number of employees in each category multiplied by their mean annual wages. The red line is the industry average – across all occupations. You will notice that “Office & Administrative Support Occupations” are losing ground, while “Writers & Authors” and “Producers & Directors” are skyrocketing and “Film & Video Editors” are also beating the average.

This means that if you are looking to become some exec’s assistant as your first step in the industry (as so many fresh college grads do), you really have to bring some kind of added value – either creative insight or technical expertise. If your only advantage is in managing a call sheet, you are not in a very favorable competitive position: you will either be replaced by a computer or by someone with unique abilities. Even if you’re not a writer or officially in the “creative” department – you really must bring creative thinking to your work. As I mentioned in my previous post – the days in which sending more emails per minute or arriving early and staying late were the only differentiating factors are over. Hollywood has finally joined the 21st century and is looking for creative thinkers that bring unique added value.

The unionized nature of the film industry is probably the reason the industry average is not doing even worse, but the trend is clear. At its core, Hollywood is a creative industry after all – one that is harder for computer algorithms to replace entirely. But that actually incentivizes it even more to become efficient wherever it can – and that is wherever human creativity is not essential.

Please. Stay away from those jobs.

* Like this post? Follow me on twitter: @stavjdavis and/or like the Facebook page

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