Almost every position in the filmmaking industry, except for executives, works in the “gig” economy. They are freelancers moving from opportunity to opportunity because basically every job, including big studio films, has a definitive end date.
There is a constant hustle to find work and it’s usually gotten through referrals. Additionally, each production has its own dynamic. They can shoot nights, weekends and holidays with over twelve-hour days. Therefore, it’s good for a person to know what they are getting into, so they can set the right expectations for themselves and their future. Each section of production has a unique disposition as well.
Pre-production and distribution are generally corporate, dealing with paperwork and legalities. These careers typically work on spec or are corporate jobs. A lot of time is spent pitching, developing and coordinating a project.
The artistry is found in determining what could be and the hours are much more regular but when deals go down, it’s intense. Within the independent sector, that means attending film festivals and buying property to later distribute and sell.
Film production is almost like summer camp in a way, with large amounts of resources on the line. A lot of strangers come together to do bizarre activities that are wildly different from shoot to shoot. They must constantly work together to achieve success for grueling days on end.
When not working, there is a lot of downtime. These individuals will often work for a month or two then have a month off. Work usually goes in waves. It’s either all at once or nothing.
The post-production world works with a sense of isolation. Each has their own departments, almost like individual splinter cells working together. In the end, the creative work must be cohesive, so they still talk and coordinate, delivering and receiving assets, but most communication is done remotely.
The secular nature is further propagated by the fact with advancing technology, these departments can be found all over the world. A project can be doing sound design in California and visual effects in Canada, putting them in separate time zones.
Often, post-production careers will work on multiple jobs at once as well. Due to the hiccups in communication and delays imposed by other departments, they fill out their days by juggling multiple clients.
The individuals themselves usually work alone for long periods of time, or next to one key collaborator, like the film’s Director. Travel is usually limited, and with the advance of computers, many people have their own home studios as well as a professional one. Typically, post-production careers work longer on one project than other professions, but their paychecks are still freelance, and project-based.
A filmmaker’s lifestyle varies depending on what section of production they focus on. Most of the time this aligns with individual’s personalities but there are no hard and fast rules. Many Cinematographers are introverts and there are a lot of Editors who are gregarious. If someone is breaking in, then it can be good to explore each of the different realms and determine which one best suits their nature.