My responsibilities are to take photos that promote the film, both behind the scenes and on-set. The images end up online, billboards, posters, etc.
I’m shooting along side the rest of the crew each day of filming. Smaller jobs and some tv don’t require you to be there everyday.
The job requires the normal skills of a photographer but also a great deal of experience not being in the way, while being creative and very adaptable.
The current writers strike has not only hurt writer’s incomes but all film crew jobs. The TV and commercial markets weren’t hit as hard and many friends who have a foot in both worlds are at least surviving. I have made a good living, up until recently, just being a set photographer so I never diversified. I’m now regretting that choice.
The only income that I’ve made this year is from a random commercial job that came my way because of an old relationship with a producer.
Last fall most production slowed down and stopped even before the contract negotiations between the WGA and AMPTP even started. No one wanted to start a project knowing that shooting would be interrupted.
All photographers working on larger films are in the camera union, IASTE – Local 600, and have separate contracts from the writers. Our contract was renegotiated recently and many were disappointed with the results. The Union has very limited ways of assisting during these hardships.
Ask anyone who works in film and tv, as fun as it sounds from the outside, the truth is often quite different if you aren’t high up on the pay scale. Working 12-16 hours a day is not uncommon. Having 10 hours to sleep, eat, and travel to and from the location, day after day, becomes difficult and often unhealthy. Shooting conditions are not always ideal and you have to be ready for everything. Sometimes it can be fun, or you may shoot in a place that you would never have access to, but mostly it’s a lot of work and time away from family.
Where to go from here? I’m not sure. The greed that the studios have displayed is really disturbing and disgusting. This behavior, and the response to it, seems to be happening in many different fields. Corporate greed is nothing new but the outpouring of people willing to try and change it is hopeful.