‘Film industry actually being driven out’
Editor, The News:
Re: Film industry on brink of leaving (The News, Feb. 20).
While I wholeheartedly support your recent article, I would like to comment briefly on a statement by Mr. Don Emond.
“Emond said the average yearly salary in the business is about $110,000.”
It might have been for him – it sounds, since he drives production vehicles, like he’s a Teamster. However, the public should not get the impression that this represents the average yearly salary across the board.
I have been a professional actor for almost 37 years. I belong to all the unions. As an actor, unlike a member of a film crew, who might be on the set every day for the duration of the project, I am usually hired for a day or two, maybe – if I’m extremely lucky, a week or more. And that could be all I get for several months, depending on the roles available.
A principle actor’s rate (six lines or more) is roughly $634/day. The rate for an actor with five lines or less is $418. Extras, (if they’re union, make $22.26 an hour, and if they’re non-union, minimum wage. On a TV series, unless it’s a recurring character, you can’t get hired back for many episodes. Nationally, most actors make substantially below $10,000 a year with most having to keep up a non-acting job to make ends meet. And that’s in good years.
Actors, because they are considered self-employed, are also not eligible for EI.
The film industry in B.C. reached $1 billion in 1999. Since then, it has had an estimated 21 per cent yearly growth rate.
Until now. Virtually every province – and U.S. states – that has cut its film incentives has seen the industry, and its concomitant revenue, evaporate. The film industry is not on the brink of leaving. It’s on the verge of being driven out.
F. Braun McAsh