Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Where's the jobs

I'm one of those older guys who really got into computers, was the first one I knew of who bought a computer way back in 1986, an Atari. I was one of the first to buy a Hi-8 camcorder and later a DV camcorder. I learned how to edit on Final Cut Pro and made DVDS with color labels. Right now I have 5 computers, 3 laptops and 2 desktops.

I use a 6-year old XP and have a 13-inch Dell laptop for traveling, the other laptop has a black screen and I rarely use it. I have two Mac's, an old G4 and a new iMac.

What this leads to is this; I have shot and edited several short documentaries, adding music I created in Garageband and sold DVD's I made. But there was something I forgot to think about until my non-digital friend reminded me.

He told me that, in doing what I described above, I was taking away the jobs of at least 5 people; editors, camerapersons, musicians and a few others. I laughed but then thought about it, he was right.

Some time ago I needed to get a PAL dvd which plays in Europe and I called my usual dubbing studio who make dvds in different formats. PAL dvds can't play in North America and I had to get a copy of a trailer I made to send to Italy for a festival.

My usual company had 3 offices, Burbank, Hollywood and Santa Monica. When I called I discovered that Burbank and Santa Monica offices were closed, and only Hollywood remained. Why? Not enough business.

Go back to what my friend said, I was killing the industry. Okay, not just me. Imagine 1000 of me, or even better, 100,000 of me, each filming, editing, creating music and titles and generally everything we need to make a film... all by ourselves.

Today the LA Times ran an article titled, "Dreary picture of TV, film job sector".

In the article they describe the loss of jobs by almost 8%, the lowest since 2001. At the same time normal jobs rose 1.8%.

The problem is that it's not only technology that's killing jobs, it's tax incentives. Canada started with the tax incentives by giving production companies up to 35% tax credits for coming to Canada. Basically it means that for every million dollars spent, a Canadian province would give back $350,000. It's a bit more complicated but that's the general idea.

So Hollywood began to lose business and then several states like Louisiana and New Mexico began offering their tax credits and it became a race between Canada and US as to who gave the most or the best.

Which leaves Hollywood in the lurch. 

And this means less TV shows (although that might not be bad :), but the future doesn't look bright as technology kills jobs, not only in the film business but every business. 

And how's this for a real problem, there is about an 85% unemployment within the Writer's Guild of America. That means that only 15% of us are working. Our membership is anywhere from a few thousand up to 10 thousand guild writers. Nobody really knows how much as the guild keeps this a secret.

But it's always been that way for writers so we learn to take it in stride.

Like my book, which is now finished and will be out in 2 weeks.  It ain't a movie but it's  writing.

And I'm already working on a new 30 minute doc that I can sell on Amazon and iTunes.