As always, it was very interesting to read the latest salary survey conducted by Televisual recently.
I was hoping to hear the long awaited news that production budgets were rising, working hours were being reduced, people had their weekends back and were feeling richer than they were this time last year.
Wishful thinking. It’s almost becoming the norm for many freelancers that their salaries really haven’t risen for at least 6 years or more. And of course, with inflation, this means in real terms they are worse off than they were. I guess if you’re a high flying exec within the comfy confines of a broadcaster or big indie, you might be immune to all this as salaries seem to be increasing or at least moving along in the right direction.
At PB Towers, it’s probably fair to say that not a week goes by when we are not talking to a company wanting to post positions with us that are well below the industry rate. Just this week, we had to explain (which felt ridiculous) that paying barely above the minimum wage for a line producer was not on. But even more galling was their response, suggesting that we put what we felt was the correct rate for the role. I’ll say as much as this; the person involved has been around the industry for a long time and knew full well what the role was worth, but felt that they could get away with it because there was likely to be some out of work freelancer prepared to do it for that shameful rate.
And this got me thinking.
I speak to many freelancers on a regular basis throughout the year and the one thing I always take away from my discussions, is that nearly all production people love the job they do, feel they are (still) working in the best industry in the world and are privileged to be doing so. Not getting paid enough rarely raises its head – it’s nearly always about the long hours and the time spent away from family and loved ones.
My view is that there is now a prevailing (call it a creeping) culture starting to permeate the industry which suggests that, as freelancers dearly love what they do and want to keep working, employers are not feeling enough heat from them when it comes to the correct amount of pay.
And it’s hard to know how to resolve this – maybe a Russell Brand style revolution – a new movement of production people willing to get companies to re-think their attitude and question the way they’re behaving (of late). The industry never used to be this way and the people doing the employing know this.
One thing I do know is that when the next salary survey is published (and you’re reading it after a long exhausting day’s filming…on a Sunday), very little will have changed.
Maybe the (pay) revolution starts here.