People over Pictures

Written By -
Leslie Gomez

Published: November 14, 2021

Haylna Hutchins

Sarah Jones

Brandon Lee

Stuart Keene

Joyce Gilliard

Only a few of the many, many fatalities or near-death experiences in the film industry. To the many other below the line workers whose names we will never know.


Even some of the Las Vegas locals who have lost their lives by driving while suffering sleep deprivation. Just another long day on the job.


“I do it for art”.


“I do it because I love it”.


The allure of Hollywood and entertainment has seduced us to be victims to this monopoly they call showbiz. No one ever mentioned the importance of making a living wage, health care, days off, sleep, and treating humans with dignity and care. You know, a general sense of well-being? (Both mental and physical). So, how come this was never taught in film school?


The industry for decades has scraped by by cheating us of basic human rights for the promise of one day being A BIG STAR! and showcasing your artistry to the whole world. The temptation of being a part of an industry that millions are dying for just a chance to be a part of. You should feel so lucky, they say.


The thrill of a movie poster of a film you worked on plastered all over billboards, your television, and even sinking into conversations at your local bar. “I did that!”


Glam. So, why does it take only the occurrence of a death or an IATSE strike to shine a light on the stress, competitiveness, and grueling hours of the filmmaking process? As a producer, I’m often tasked with the pressure of pulling off the impossible. Managing a small army, and assuring we get every shot we need on the day. Of course, there are precautions and rules put in place. Many of these are spoken about prior to shooting. But how many of you can admit even still you did not speak up when you saw a circumstance or situation on set that still seemed potentially unsafe? Or you didn’t say anything when you didn’t get a proper meal, or a break? Or someone else bottom of the line like a PA was being treated poorly?


We are all guilty of being people pleasers in this industry. Most of all, we want to be team players. We’re lucky to be here, after all! And we fear being replaced in an industry that has such a fast turnaround rate. 


This product over people approach stops when we refuse to allow it. I want to challenge you to hold yourself and others accountable. No matter what your role. It is ok to simply ask: “Is this okay?” “Is this safe?” "Do I feel comfortable?"


I want to challenge you to say no:


when a rate is too low

when there is a hostile working environment

when you feel unsafe on set

when the turnaround time is unrealistic

when the job isn’t clear

when the work is inhumane

when there is no break

when others are being treated poorly



Even further, I challenge you to speak up. No career is worth your life and the potential of the lives of others.




Leslie Gomez —

Leslie Gomez is a Mexican American director and producer in Las Vegas. Having collaborated with notable production companies, agencies, as well as independent creatives; Leslie produces film, television, short films, narratives, music videos as well as live shows. She prioritizes telling human stories about marginalized groups and underrepresented people. Leslie is currently working at the UFC story producing, and when she's not watching a fight, she's always fighting to represent the people.

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