Screenwriter

What does a Screenwriter do?

Screenwriters create screenplays for film and television. They also research and develop concepts for original screenplays. Conversely, screenwriters also write and adapt existing events or stories into scripts. They secure work by meeting with studio executives to pitch ideas for scripts or a studio commissions them to write concepts already in development.

How much does this career make?

According to Ziprecruiter, Screenwriters maintain a national annual salary of $60,722, which is an hourly wage of $29.19. In general, entry-level producers start around $39,500 annually. Senior-level producers make an annual average of $99,500. The range in salary widely depends on factors including skill and seniority level.

What impact does this career have towards the film industry?

Screenplays are the foundations of film. Without a solid script, film productions would be directionless. Screenwriters create the bare bones of the screenplay in characters, dialogue, and storyline. Sometimes, they work with producers to further develop the script. However, the screenwriter’s creativity is usually the driver behind the story of a film.

What is the job outlook for a Screenwriter?

Film revenue is forecasted to grow to $392.34 billion by 2025. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for writers (including Screenwriters) are expected to increase at a rate of 9% percent during the 2019-2029 decade (www.bls.gov).

Judd Apatow, screenwriter

Learn from: 
Judd Apatow
Film & TV Industry Essentials contributor, Screenwriter, Director, Producer

Screenwriting Credits: This Is 40, Funny People, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Knocked Up, The 40-year-old Virgin

Related Careers:

Executive Producer | Producer | Casting Director | Casting Assistant | Associate Producer | Storyboard Artist

Film Executive Producer

What does a Film Executive Producer do?

An Executive Producer for a film can have many roles. Their primary responsibility is to secure financing for the production. Some may finance the film themselves or source it through a production studio or an independent investment firm. Executive Producers act as liaisons between the production and investors once filming is underway. They make sure the production is on budget, on schedule, and in line with creative expectations. For major films, Executive Producers may also play a role in getting talent to commit to the project. They hire team members that work on set, including other producers.

How much does this career make?

According to PayScale, Film Executive Producers maintain a national annual salary of $99,891, which is an hourly wage of $48.02. In general, entry-level producers start around $49,132 annually. Senior-level producers make an annual average of $124,542. The range in salary widely depends on factors including skill and seniority level.

What impact does this career have towards the film industry?

Film Executive Producers take movie concepts from script to screen. They not only work in blockbuster films, but they are also responsible for discovering new talent and fresh ideas. In addition, executive producers allow filmmakers to focus their efforts on the creative end while they handle the financial side of film production.

What is the job outlook for a Film Executive Producer?

Film revenue is forecasted to grow to $392.34 billion by 2025. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities in the field (including Film Executive Producers) are expected to increase at a rate of 24% percent during the 2019-2029 decade (www.bls.gov).

Maisha Closson

Learn from: 
Maisha Closson 
Film & TV Industry Essentials contributor, Executive Producer

Production Credits: The L Word: Generation Q, How to Get Away with Murder, Claws 

Related Careers:

Screenwriter | Producer | Casting Director | Casting Assistant | Associate Producer | Storyboard Artist

How the Film Industry was impacted by Covid-19

When the Covid-19 pandemic swept the globe in 2020, life as we knew it came to a halt. Travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders went into effect. Workers faced lay-offs and businesses shut down, some never opening again. The entertainment business was not immune to the economic turmoil, with the film industry hit especially hard. From delayed releases to canceled productions, every sector of industry felt the total weight of the pandemic. A year later, Hollywood is still navigating the aftermath of the coronavirus.

The Box Office Falls

Film Industry Covid-19
A theater closed due to the pandemic.

In the early days of March 2020, the number of positive coronavirus cases reached historical levels. Cities across the United States declared states of emergency to combat the spread. Social distancing recommendations made in-person theater experiences potentially dangerous. Governments in Europe and Asia responded by ordering the closure of theaters. Markets in North America remained confident despite projections of a 20% drop in revenue from 2019.

By March 16th, AMC — along with Regal Cinemas and Cineplex — had announced all of their movie theaters would be closing temporarily.

AMC Theatres, the U.S.’s largest theater chain, initially called for 50% capacity in their cinemas to comply with the Centers for Disease Control guidelines. Still, as cases in the U.S. continued to rise, movie-goers grew weary of seeing films on the big screen. By March 16th, AMC — along with Regal Cinemas and Cineplex — had announced all of their movie theaters would be closing temporarily. A few days later, Walt Disney Studios and Universal Pictures confirmed they would stop reporting data on box office revenue as ticket sales dwindled.

To Release or Not to Release

No Film Releasing
Movie theater with no upcoming releases.

With the box office struggling to stay afloat, studios started to debate rescheduling the theatrical releases of feature films like Black Widow and Fast & Furious 9. No Time to Die was the first movie officially postponed. The film was initially rescheduled from its March 2020 release date to November of the same year. Ultimately, the film didn’t see a wide release until September 2021. Other films soon followed its lead.

Films expected to be steady performers like Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway and A Quiet Place Part II faced indefinite delays and ultimately wouldn’t release for a full calendar year.

One by one, film studios attempted to predict a return to normalcy and shuffled around monthly releases. Films expected to be steady performers like Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway and A Quiet Place Part II faced indefinite delays and ultimately wouldn’t release for a full calendar year. As releases backed up, productions in various stages shut down. Awards shows and film festivals moved to awkward zoom formats without live audiences. The film industry effectively ceased to function.

Streaming Saves The Day (Kind Of)

Streaming during Covid-19
The number of users on streaming services went up during Covid-19.

Streaming services emerged as alternatives to standard release formats, offering their subscribers digital rental options of back-burnered blockbusters. As Hollywood faced a complete standstill, some studios took the opportunity to partner with existing platforms. Warners Bros. agreed to release all of their 2021 lineup on HBO Max with simultaneous theater releases. Wonder Woman 1984 was the first major film to go through the new experiment. The film was initially slated for an August 2020 release before being moved to October. It finally landed on HBO Max on Christmas Day. 1984 failed to meet its box office expectations, only having taken in $166.5 million to date against its $200 million budget.

Other production companies seized the opportunity to launch their own platforms. The Walt Disney Company launched Disney+, a video-on-demand service housing releases through their popular subsidiaries like Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios, and Pixar. The accessibility for quarantined viewers was a boon for home entertainment, but the financial results were less than impressive. Originally expected to be a solid performer, Mulan only recouped $70 million in revenue against a massive budget of $200 million. 

The accessibility for quarantined viewers was a boon for home entertainment, but the financial results were less than impressive.

Disney tried to pivot with later releases and took a page out of its competitor’s playbook by simultaneously releasing films on Disney+ and in theaters. The move also backfired; in July 2021, Marvel Universe star Scarlett Johansson sued Disney, claiming a breach of contract. In her lawsuit, she alleged that releasing Black Widow as a video-on-demand offering limited its potential success as a traditional theatrical release, limiting her compensation since her salary was partially based on box office revenue. The suit is still pending.

The Show Must Go On

Masked on Film Set
Masked film crew.

With the industry trying to get back on track, studios are dealing with an entirely new reality. Increased Covid-19 testing requirements have slowed film productions. Some — like Robert Pattinson’s The Batman — shut down after stars returned positive tests. Insurance costs have surged. While more money may be a minor inconvenience for major studios, independent filmmakers have struggled to secure additional financing. Yet, it’s not all doom and gloom. 

Insurance costs have surged. While more money may be a minor inconvenience for major studios, independent filmmakers have struggled to secure additional financing.

As filming resumes, local economies are bouncing back in states where productions were popular pre-pandemic such as Georgia. Streaming and online television are projected to grow; theaters are gradually reopening, but it’s been reported that 34% of U.S. consumers plan to continue watching television and film in socially distanced settings. Projections show that Netflix and Disney will add a combined $4 billion in revenue in 2022. The film industry may not ever be the same as it was before, but Hollywood is adjusting in new and surprising ways.

If you’d like to learn more about film and exploring the industry’s many careers, check out Yellowbrick’s Ultimate Film Career Guide.

Your Ultimate Career Guide Into The Film Industry

The United States box office revenue grew from $10 billion dollars in 2012 to $11.3 billion in 2021. China was the largest box office market in the world in 2020. The U.S. and Canada ranked second with Sony Pictures leading the way behind a domestic box office gross of $500 million dollars. With that type of economic growth, the business side of film has had to change drastically to keep pace. There are more people involved in making a film, with jobs delegated between pre-production, production, and post-production. What are those film careers and how do you get started?

To help you determine and achieve your career goals, we have created this comprehensive career guide. Yellowbrick’s Ultimate Film Career Guide is your source to discover jobs in film and learn entry points into the film industry. In this guide, you can begin to explore the jobs that drive the market, then search for your perfect career by area of interest, skills, companies, or industry experts. 

Download The Ultimate Film Career Guide

Learn about your skills and interests, and articulate them confidently to identify film career options within the industry that you might pursue. Then, implement a successful strategy to attain your desired outcomes.

In this guide you’ll find the following information:

  • Overview of the film industry
  • Future of the film market
  • Film Career Library
  • Career Planning Strategy to get into the film industry

You’ll also find simple exercises that help you:

  • form a career planning strategy to get into the film industry
  • find your passion in film and identify an area of interest to pursue
  • learn the film industry through top studios and its key players
  • identify your skills and match them to a film area of interest

Download this guide to start planning your film industry career. Whether you’re a novice, a student, or a professional, you can further your career path by downloading this guide that will help you begin understanding the film industry opportunities available, as well as the skills and qualifications you need to succeed.

5 Film Industry Jobs If You’re Just Getting Started

The film industry was one of the hardest-hit sectors during the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, box office revenue and employment rates fell to a 20-year low, with just 257,000 jobs reported in January of 2021. However, the market is bouncing back. 

Careers in film are projected to increase by as much as 29% by 2030. So, how do you get your foot in the door with an industry that’s on an upswing? These film industry jobs are great starting points towards a long-term career in film.

Extra 

An Extra is a non-speaking role in a film or television production. They often appear in the background during scenes but do not have any lines. The purpose of Extras is to make the scene feel more realistic.

Film Industry Jobs
Extra

Extras frequently appear in scenes meant to convey a public space such as a restaurant, park, DMV, or store. Working as an Extra is usually part-time, and pay is low to start. Although, joining a union can grant higher pay rates and perks like paid meals and travel reimbursement.

Possible Career Paths: Working as an Extra is a way to gain insight into film production. You get to see the pace and demands of working on a set firsthand. If you’re interested in production assistant work or moving to the forefront to be a principal actor, consider starting as an Extra.

Production Assistant

A Production Assistant works on film, television, or theater sets. They assist producers and directors and help prepare cast and crew for shoots. Duties vary quite a bit — but typical Production Assistant responsibilities include printing and distributing scripts, handling production paperwork, assisting the crew with cameras and lighting set-up, communicating messages between crew members, and running errands for directors and producers.

Possible Career Paths: A role as a Production Assistant is a good entryway if you want to work either as a producer, executive producer, or crew member. Production Assistants work in all facets of film production and have the opportunity to observe all roles from director to the gaffer.

Publicity Assistant

Film publicists generate buzz around a feature film release and ahead of awards season. They foster connections with journalists and critics to gain media coverage because it’s up to them to get critics and the public excited about the film. Film publicists also manage press junkets and schedule press screenings for bigger-budget movies. 

Publicist
Publicity Assistant

A Publicity Assistant is a coordinator for a senior-level publicist or a team of publicists. They handle day-to-day communications with clients and draft press materials such as press releases, production notes, and biographies. Publicity Assistants are also responsible for tracking and compiling client coverage.

Possible Career Paths: A Publicity Assistant is a writing-intensive job. Getting your start here would allow you to develop skills to become a senior publicist. You could also pursue other writing careers like film criticism or journalism.

Screenwriter

Screenwriters create screenplays for film and television. A screenwriter may work on spec — writing a script based on their idea without any involvement from a studio. This type of screenwriting is considered freelance and would need to be pitched and sold to a producer or studio. 

However, a studio may hire screenwriters to develop a script based on a concept that has already been greenlit. Screenplays are classified as original — a script based on a completely original idea — or adapted — a script inspired by or based on preexisting copyrighted material such as a novel or video game.

Possible Career Paths: A lot of Screenwriters start as freelancers writing on spec. Screenwriters can secure an agent or manager to get steady work on bigger budget productions. There is also potential to work as a producer or film director.

Social Media Coordinator

Social Media Coordinators engage with fans, talent, and brands on social media to promote a film. They manage the publishing of social media content across social platforms, including real-time publishing. In addition, Social Media Coordinators create collateral like gifs, short-form videos, and memes for posts and monitor social media trends to make recommendations for ongoing strategies or opportunities. 

Social Media Coordinator
Social Media Coordinator

Possible Career Paths: Social Media Coordinators work alongside marketing and publicity. If you’d like to pursue a film industry job down the line in marketing or public relations, a Social Media Coordinator role may be the right starting point for you.

If you’re interested in any of the film industry jobs above or exploring which of the many other film careers may be a fit for your skillset, check out Yellowbrick’s Ultimate Film Career Guide.

Top Stories in 2021: The Era of Streaming

Covid-19 was like a wrecking ball in the entertainment world in 2020. But, the lone exception was streaming. Services saw a surge in subscriber numbers — Netflix reported an increase of 16 million subscribers in the first quarter alone. Even as theaters tentatively reopened and restrictions were lifted, consumers continued to flock to streaming in 2021. New services popped up, and existing platforms expanded their offerings with exclusive shows and movies. Since it’s almost a wrap on 2021, let’s look back on some of the year’s biggest streaming stories. 

More Platforms 

Netflix Streaming

Everyone wants to get in on the fun when there’s money involved. With Netflix and Hulu regularly reporting hundreds of millions of subscribers, other entertainment companies sought to stake their claim to the market. In January of 2021, Discovery Inc. launched its streaming service, discovery+. The platform consists of existing programming and original content from the Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Animal Planet, A&E, Lifetime, and the History Channel. The platform has grown in earnest, reporting 18 million paying subscribers in August 2021 — far behind competitors like Netflix and Disney+.

ViacomCBS finally realized its CBS All Access platform was outdated in the broadcast network world and rebranded it to Paramount+. The new and improved streaming service offers expanded content from Comedy Central, TVLand, and VH1. The move has paid off as ViacomCBS 42 million global streaming subscribers.

Big Budget Hits The Small Screen 

Streaming

Netflix is the king of streaming, but Disney+ has the potential to redefine what the platform can be. Its subsidiaries include Marvel, Pixar, and Lucasfilm. In 2021, the streamer tapped its Marvel Cinematic Universe properties to create a series of television shows. As a result, WandaVision, Loki, The Falcon, and the Winter Soldier were released to critical and fan acclaim. Each episode of all three shows reportedly had a production cost of $25 million per episode.

With Disney+ spending blockbuster money and Netflix regularly shelling out millions for high-profile talents like Dan Levy and major hits like Squid Game, smaller streamers tried to keep pace. Apple TV+ managed to a diamond in the rough with Ted Lasso. Mid-tier streamers Amazon Prime and Hulu had quieter years in buzzworthy television, but their subscriber numbers grew.

The Film Industry Pushes Back

Movie Theater

2021 was marked by an attempted return to normalcy that has continued to stagger. Hollywood was in limbo as productions struggled with Covid-19 testing and effects of positive results. The most damaging impact of the pandemic was the closing of movie theaters across the world. Even though theaters have reopened gradually, moviegoers have remained skeptical, and the box office still hasn’t rebounded completely.

Some film studios tried to pivot amidst the unknown. WarnerBros infamously agreed to a deal with HBOMax to exclusively release their entire slate of films on the streaming service in late 2020 and 2021. Disney+ tried to follow suit with a paid Premier Access option. This strategy may have appeased wary fans, but it notoriously backfired when Scarlett Johansson sued Disney over the release of Black Widow. Furthermore, Emma Stone considered taking legal action against Cruella. Johansson reached a settlement, and Stone ultimately declined, but the controversy may pause future partnerships between studios and streaming services.

Looking Ahead

Live Streaming

What’s to come for streaming in 2022? Recently, there has been a trend with television writers and showrunners leaving cable networks for big-budget deals with streamers, which will likely continue. However, the most exciting space to watch will be live streaming. Some services like Hulu currently offer a more expensive live option. Still, as brands have shown this year, we’re only one merging away from a completely different entertainment category.

If you’d like to learn more about streaming and exploring a career in the industry, check out Yellowbrick’s Ultimate Film Career Guide.

How to Become a Casting Director

Career Profile, Salary & Job Outlook —

What does a Casting Director do?

Casting directors oversee workflows and operations related to the search, outreach, and securing talent for films, television, and other visual media. They determine talent needs and lead outreach, negotiation, and contracting of talent within a specified budget. In addition, the casting director liaises with agencies and external talent resources to build strong relationships to ensure efficient talent acquisition.

How much does this career make?

According to Glassdoor, Casting Directors make a national average of $71,600 or $34.42 an hour (as of March 2022). In general, entry-level directors make around $41,000 annually, with senior-level directors making $124,000 a year. But, of course, this wide range also depends on skill, seniority, company, and location.

What impact does this career have towards the film industry?

Casting directors are one of the most important players in the creative process. They work closely with directors and producers to understand the overall creative vision. In addition, by selecting talent, they can aid the careers of actors and agents.

What is the job outlook for a Casting Director?

Film revenue is forecasted to grow to $392.34 billion by 2025. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities in the directing field (including Casting Directors) are expected to increase at a rate of 24% percent during the 2019-2029 decade (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/producers-and-directors.htm).

How to kick-off your career:

Judd Apatow

Learn from:

Judd Apatow, Film & TV Industry Essentials contributor, Film director/producer/screenwriter/ comedian

Screenwriter | Executive Producer | Producer | Casting Assistant | Associate Producer | Storyboard Artist

How to Become a Camera Operator

Career Profile, Salary, & Job Outlook —

What does a Camera Operator do?

The camera operator is responsible for capturing the film’s footage as instructed by the script, director, and cinematographer. They compose and frame each shot, applying technical aspects of light, lenses, film, filters, and camera settings to achieve the director’s desired effects. They also observe sets or locations for potential problems and determine filming and lighting requirements. Operators select and assemble cameras, handhelds, and pedestals. In addition, they test, clean, and maintain equipment to ensure proper working conditions.

How much does a Camera Operator make?

According to Salary.com, Camera Operators make a national average of $85,161 or $40.94 an hour (as of March 2022). In general, entry-level operators make around $70,770 annually, with senior-level operators making $106,391 a year. This wide range also depends on skill, seniority, company, and location.

What impact does this career have towards the film industry?

Camera work is an essential and core function of filmmaking. It would be impossible to complete a film without subpar footage. Camera operators often follow a shot list, but they are also free to make decisions based on their expertise.

What is the job outlook for a Camera Operator?

Experts forecast that film revenue will grow to $392.34 billion by 2025. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities in the editing and operating fields (including Camera Operators) are expected to increase at a rate of 29% percent during the 2020-2030 decade.

How to kick-off your career:

Judd Apatow

Learn from:

Judd Apatow, Film & TV Industry Essentials contributor, Film director/producer/screenwriter/ comedian

Related Careers:

Film Director | Production Designer | First Assistant Director | Location Manager | Second Assistant Director | Production Assistant Gaffer | Key Grip | Cinematographer | Director of Photography | Line Producer | Props Master | Assistant Props Master | Script Supervisor | Boom Operator | Stunt Coordinator | Leading Actor/Actress | Extra

How to Become a Film Director

Career Profile, Salary, & Job Outlook —

What does a Film Director do?

Film directors oversee and manage a film’s creative components. They read and edit scripts and provide instruction to actors and the film crew to convey the screenplay visually. They work with editors in post-production to complete the final version of a film. Directors determine the film’s style, tone, and mood to ensure all creative elements match their overall goal for the production.

How much does this career make?

Salaries for film directors vary widely. Short film directors can earn between $10,000 to $50,000 depending on the film’s budget. According to reports, directors associated with major film studios earn between $250,000 to $2 million per project.

What impact does this career have towards the film industry?

Film directors are responsible for bringing stories to life on screen. They take screenplays and build an aesthetically pleasing world that resonates with its intended audience. They keep the film crew on task and everyone on the same page working towards a cohesive end goal.

What is the job outlook for this career?

Film revenue is forecasted to grow to $392.34 billion by 2025. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities in the directing field (including Directors) are expected to increase at a rate of 24% percent during the 2019-2029 decade.

How to kick-off your career:

Judd Apatow

Learn from:

Judd Apatow, Film & TV Industry Essentials contributor,
Film director/producer/screenwriter/comedian

Production Designer | First Assistant Director | Location Manager | Second Assistant Director | Camera Operator | Production Assistant Gaffer | Key Grip | Cinematographer | Director of Photography | Line Producer | Props Master | Assistant Props Master | Script Supervisor | Boom Operator | Stunt Coordinator | Leading Actor/Actress | Extra

How to Become a Production Designer

Career Profile, Salary, & Job Outlook —

What does a Production Designer do?

Production designers are the leaders of the art department. They coordinate the visual appearance and artistic style throughout a film’s production. Designers collaborate with other visual departments, such as costume, lighting, visual and special effects, and graphic design to render the visual world in which the story takes place. In addition, they draw inspiration from the screenplay and conduct research for historical accuracy.

How much does a Production Designer make?

According to Glassdoor, Production Designers make a national average of $72,307 or $34.76 an hour (as of March 2022). In general, entry-level designers make around $56,000 annually, with senior-level designers making $94,000 a year. Of course, this wide range also depends on skill, seniority, company, and location.

What impact does this career have towards the film industry?

Production designers lead the art department to create the story’s world. They ensure that viewers understand when and where scenes are taking place. Designers add credibility and realism to films.

What is the job outlook for a Production Designer?

Film revenue is forecasted to grow to $392.34 billion by 2025. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities in the field (including Production Designers) are expected to increase at a rate of 24% percent during the 2019-2029 decade.

How to kick-off your career:

Judd Apatow

Learn from:

Judd Apatow, Film & TV Industry Essentials contributor,
Film director/producer/screenwriter/ comedian

Film Director | First Assistant Director | Location Manager | Second Assistant Director | Camera Operator | Production Assistant Gaffer | Key Grip | Cinematographer | Director of Photography | Line Producer | Props Master | Assistant Props Master | Script Supervisor | Boom Operator | Stunt Coordinator | Leading Actor/Actress | Extra