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Unemployment

David wrote in about a subject everyone in the industry can relate to.  He was making small talk with a clerk at an oil change place, and mentioned that he was out of a job, momentarily–

it’s no biggie since the production season is winding down anyway and that I should be able to pick up a gig in mid-May when things pick up again.

The clerk gave me a confused look. “You mean you’re just not going to go to work this month?” he asked.

“Err, yeah, something like that,” I replied. 

Whenever I try to explain my line of work I get this kind of thing a lot. For the most part I think it’s more a misunderstanding of how television is produced and at what times certain productions are rolling, but I’ve never been able to explain the fact that I’m in television production but can go for months on end without going into the office, then suddenly get bombarded with work for a few more months, then rinse and repeat. I was curious if you’ve ever experienced the same.

I suspect we all do.

This is probably the hardest part of the entertainment industry and, from what I hear from the veterans I know, it never gets any easier.

It must have been nice to work back in the studio days, when the lot was run more like a factory.  Back then, if you finished shooting a movie Wednesday, you’d start the next movie on Thursday.

Now, finding a new job is a perpetual chore.  I don’t know of any other business that operates that way.  It’s hard for people to get that.

You’d think the worst would be trying to explain this to your parents.  That’s not true.  The hardest is explaining it to your wife’s parents.  You took their little girl out of their home, and now you don’t have a job?!  Not a fun conversation.

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4 Responses

  1. The film industry is very much like the construction business — to make any film or show, a group of skilled pros are brought together to do the heavy lifting required to do the job right. There’s a big difference in the final product, though — once a house is built, people can live in it for the next thirty to fifty years. Most movies and TV shows are forgotten a week after they hit the big or small screen.

    We’re in the business of building light and shadow, a task that remains as ethereal as it is transitory — and learning to deal with the inevitable unemployment is a skill we’ve all had to learn.

  2. Ahh yes the vicious cycle of unemployement. I recently moved to LA from TX. After a two show run I’ve been out of work for a month. My parents reaction was priceless. ” You’re in LA, how can you be out of work?” LOL.

  3. “Now, finding a new job is a perpetual chore. I don’t know of any other business that operates that way. It’s hard for people to get that.”

    Consulting. If you don’t work for one of the big houses, it’s just like that. Construction is also probably pretty similar.

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