In unlocking economic activity from film industry activity, film production can be described as “manufacturing on the move.” In other words, filmmaking relies upon the timely assembly of labor and materials that are then compiled to create a unique product that happens to be a film. Part of your role in the process is to preempt the changes in labor and material requirements as applicable in your area. As part of your trends analysis, you’ll need to research and utilize industry analysis data, labor market information from your area and from the film industry specifically. You should also develop and maintain a local, state, national and global focus on the business environment.
One of the trends in the film industry that may affect crew is the rapid and unassailable advent of technology. This doesn’t simply mean more advanced cameras and more technologically savvy camera people. For example, technology now allows sets to be moved quickly and without significant manual labor. As a result of this technology boom, it is generally assumed that there will be a redefinition of existing work activities, as well as the creation of several new kinds of jobs within the film sector.
There’s a recognized need for people trained in new technologies, including video editing, digital sound mixing and special optical effects, as well as for individuals with engineering and design skills.
Technology is also changing the discipline of sound and lighting, since technicians now increasingly use computers to control their equipment. As a result, fewer workers are required to operate the new technologies. Increased automation in audio-visual production will certainly decrease the need for workers in certain manual jobs. More computerized production of programming could also have adverse effects on job growth for audio and video recording technicians. It’s recommended that technicians in this sector be familiar with advanced technology, such as digital recording, new distribution techniques and new information media.
There is also a trend toward the employment of audiovisual technicians with computer skills in sound editing and design as well as in digital imaging from film. In the future, it’s expected that audiovisual technicians will have to use the technology creatively in order to meet the industry’s need to offset high production costs. For example, altering real images with computers makes it possible to use the images in various programs and reduce production costs at the same time.
The film industry has already globalized. The global market and the global labor pool mean that the demand for multi-disciplinary workers will continue to rise.
The interface with information and communication technologies is predicted to have major impact on the audio/visual industries over the next ten years. The audio-visual industries will be a key element in the emerging information and knowledge economy which is set to expand. Part of the picture will also be increasing competition from other sectors requiring the same skill sets as needed in the audio/visual industries. Emergence of new roles will put a demand on new skills and knowledge.
Flexible and less formal working patterns are likely to increase across the sector, particularly with the increase in small decentralized, entrepreneurial companies. There will continue to be high levels of non-traditional employment patterns; the number of freelancers is set to further increase in the future.
Having said all this, it’s clear that while technology is going to impact on major urban centers with large, competitive crew bases, for film commissions in more outlying areas, there is less expectation of highly technologically savvy crew. Indeed, technology is often prohibitively expensive and it does not travel well, so the fact that your crew base is able to work “the old-fashioned way” may even be a benefit.
Industry sources consider networking to be the most valuable tool for successful transition from education to the labor force. Some aspiring entrants into the film industry have unrealistically high expectations about the types of entry-level positions that will be available to them. Industry sources suggest that having realistic expectations helps those who aspire to these jobs to cope more effectively with transition.
Good skills in resume writing, job search techniques and career planning and management will help learners enter the industry.
Having good work skills, people skills and a professional work ethic are keys to surviving in the industry. Aptitude and attitude are of major importance. It’s pertinent to remember that the industry has built-in training based on initiative and assertiveness.
How Film Production Labor Decisions are Made
The way film shoots recruit crews often depends on the union or non-union status of the production. If the production is operating under a union contract, hiring is done through the union hall or local union office. The union presents the producers with a list of qualified and available workers. If the production is non-union, hiring is done by production managers who hire individual crew members. Hiring practices may vary slightly in those few of the states in the US that are classified as “right-to-work states, which requires that union membership cannot be used as a basis for making hiring decisions.
In the US, and to a certain extent in Canada, there is a likelihood of unionized productions. This has to do with the fact that all of the major studios are signatories to the various film unions, and therefore hire union personnel. In some parts of the world, it is considered a “plus” that their crew members are not part of a collective bargaining agreement. In many English-speaking Commonwealth countries, the crew is sourced through formal crew agencies.
Understanding the value chain is important because it helps to start clarifying where and when (and why) you’ll spend your workforce development activities. It’s also worth further breaking down the activities into three distinct sectors – Primary, Secondary and Tertiary.