Currently a 2nd/1st Camera Assistant (Career Advice)

New 0KSurR
Jul 22 6 Comments

So I studied film at UCLA and graduated three years ago, and got lured into Hollywood. Two years ago, I found my first few gigs out of college on Craigslist, and was barely earning anything. This year and last year I've been mostly getting jobs through the networks that I have built and life is a little better in terms of finances. I think this year I'll be able to make around 50k after taxes. So, I'm sort of at a crossroad where I'm debating whether I want to continue living this contractor life and try to get into the union, or whether I should seek out opportunities as an employee at these entertainment companies. AFAIK I heard most production crew for HBO, Netflix, Disney are just contractors like me. Does anyone know if this is true? Do these companies also have employed production staff? I would if possible want to continue being a part of production and was wondering whether a more stable job as an actual employee at these companies exist...

It seems like most people here are SWE but if you do know info your help would be appreciated.


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TOP 6 Comments
  • Intel rstib
    Blind is the wrong place for this
    Jul 22 0
  • Netflix / Product Thats_It
    The guild has a 2nd AD training program. A two year commitment... you have to apply to be considered.

    That might be a way to diversify, get into the union and make more money than camera assistant.

    It’s highly operational, it’s about efficiencies and planning... if you have those core competencies (as well as an interest/passion) I recommend pursuing.
    Jul 22 0
  • TuneIn qpxktb
    There is no real job security in entertainment in the traditional sense. Your network and reputation is your job security.

    That being said, if you are working on technical side of movies and is good at what you do, you are in demand and have option to go either way.

    If you are on the creative side (directing, acting, etc), two main bargaining power you can get is 1) connection to funding and 2) marketing boost from your personal brand/following.
    Jul 22 0
  • New msc1212
    I would find a mentor - a camera assistant in the union and ask him/her. I had a couple friends in production - one worked as a PA on commercials (always busy). I think he was trying to get his truck certification to join a union. My other friend was in a union for lighting people.

    Unions will usually help with health insurance and wage minimums.
    Jul 29 0
  • Entertainment Partners DailyGrind
    The correct term is freelance (if you get a W-2), rather than contractor (if you get a 1099). I haven’t seen any permanent crew positions unless a show is picked up and keeps getting renewed, e.g. Walking Dead. That’s not permanent like what you’re talking about, but as close as you’d get. I have seen studios use the same crew on different shows, but it’s still freelance as you’re unemployed between shows.
    Jul 23 0
  • Amazon SlhS10
    You should learn to code.
    Jul 22 0


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