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Who Do You Work For?

Judging by the comments on last week’s post, I’ve been a little too cute when discussing the question of who you work for. The truth is, there are several valid answers, depending on what you really want to know.

Working on a film or television production is not really the same as working for the studio or production company. You don’t have a fixed schedule; you don’t work at the same location every day. Your employment is for as long as the show is filming. If it gets cancelled, you’re out of a job.

This isn’t how it used to be, back when movies were made under the studio system. That was long term employment. If the movie you were working on wrapped on a Tuesday, you’d be assigned to a different production on Wednesday.

Now, everyone is freelance. Even the show is a free agent, in a way. You could work on a Fox movie that’s filming on the Universal backlot one week, the Disney Ranch the next. You could be hired on a CBS series and not once set foot on either CBS lot.

This is what I mean when I say, you work for the show, not the studio. When you’re looking for production assistant jobs, you won’t find them on the recruitment pages of the major studios. Hiring decisions are made by your direct supervisors– the production coordinators and assistant directors. Which is why networking is so important.

So, in a broad sense, you’re working for a given studio/network; that’s the info you put on your resume. More specifically, you work for a show. But legally? That’s something else entirely.

Your employer of record is the payroll company. They’re the ones you put on your tax forms in April, and the ones you put on the unemployment forms every hiatus.

When someone asks who do you work for, you’ve got three answers, now. Hurray!

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