People over Pictures
Updated: Apr 11, 2022
Written By: Leslie Gomez
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”.
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 (7th Edition - Featured Artist)