4 Thankless Jobs in Film | What the Stuff?!

After you watch a movie, do you stick around for the credits? Well, you should. A small army labors behind the scenes of every production, working long hours under hellish deadlines, and they don’t get near the appreciation that celebs, screenwriters, directors and the like command. So what are 4 of the most thankless jobs in film?

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Article: 10 Most Thankless Jobs in Film

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Production Assistant. Let’s get this one out of the way first. Production assistant, or PA, work is widely regarded as one of the most thankless of film industry. It’s the entry-level, “foot in the door” position, including responsibilities that often have little, if anything at all to do with filming. If you’re a PA, you might be fetching coffee, handling time cards, coordinating script pages and running personal errands for the higher-ups. But this job is also a crucial stepping stone. Those menial tasks are also mini-tests – essentially, a way to prove your competence before being given more important tasks. For all their trouble, the average PA in Los Angeles nets a paltry $27,000 per year. In Los Angeles. I know.

Script Supervisor. Affectionately known as “scripty,” this position calls for noticing and managing tiny, seemingly inconsequential set details. For example: Did that glass of water go from half empty to totally full in the middle of a scene? Scripty! You can see these errors in flicks like “The Shawshank Redemption,” where bullets go from strewn about on a table to neatly placed to scattered again, and “The Godfather,” where a car windshield is scattered one moment and undamaged the next. Script supervisors take copious notes on scenes and takes. Most will supplement their notes with photos. No one thanks them for all that work, but believe me: They will hear about every single mistake they make.

Assistant Editor. Although they’re usually not on set, assistant editors can pull as many or more hours as the cast and crew. Once scenes are shot they must be digitized, organized and coordinated, often before the head editor arrives. Detailed logs are also kept to manage various tiny details, like timing, sound and visual effect info. Some assistant editors are allowed to put together rough cuts, but this depends on their experience level and how much of a micromanager the lead editor is. The true challenge of editing is taking the thousands of frames and turning the director’s vision into reality. The whole thing has to be built from scratch, and it has to be done a couple weeks after you finish shooting. It’s a lot of work from start to finish, with incredibly long hours. It’s a tall order, but it can, eventually, lead to actually becoming an editor.

Intern. To the surprise of absolutely no one who’s ever labored as an intern in any industry, this position is probably the least enjoyable and least rewarded of all film jobs. Typically unpaid or compensated at far below minimum wage, interns are the bottom of the film industry barrel. They are given the tasks that absolutely no one else wants to do, like guarding film equipment or fetching the director’s lunch. However thankless an internship might be, everybody’s gotta start somewhere, right? Film legends like Steven Spielberg got their start in this role. So smile, work your butt off and strive to replace that PA who finally got promoted. In an industry as huge and action-packed as this one, the opportunities are limitless, if tough in the beginning.

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