- Insider asked Hollywood workers in behind the scenes roles to share how much they earn.
- A literary manager’s assistant, an office PA, a script coordinator, and an accountant spoke with us.
- Money hacks like getting most of your meals from on-set catering help them make ends meet.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Working in the entertainment industry has a unique and powerful allure with its proximity to fame, wealth, art, and glamour.
But beneath Hollywood’s glittery surface are thousands of cogs in the machine, from assistants to lighting technicians to costume designers to studio executives — some paid handsomely for their efforts, others far less so.
This summer’s IATSE strike authorization vote, with tens of thousands of below-the-line professionals willing to put a work stoppage on the table in their union’s negotiations with the major studios (represented by the AMPTP), revealed how burned out many are by punishing hours and work conditions. A deal was hammered out in October and ratified by IATSE membership in November, but by a slim majority.
Insider asked entertainment industry professionals from all positions and crafts — some unionized, some not — to share how they make ends meet in the industry, their workload, and how they feel about their career trajectory.
Support staffers who responded felt particularly worn thin, due to low pay and career progress stalled by the pandemic.
“The reason I’m working for a pittance, racking up debt, subsisting on writers’ room snacks and half-sandwiches writers throw away — yes, I’ve dug their sandwich out of the trash and I am proud of it because I did what I had to do — is to keep working and maybe get my shot,” said one assistant-level worker. “But the shots come less and less now.”
Compiled here are monthly earnings and expenses for four workers on varied rungs of the Hollywood ladder: an assistant to a literary manager (a manager for film and TV writers), a production assistant in Atlanta, a script coordinator who recently left the workforce, and an accountant who works on major network TV series.
All workers were granted anonymity so they could speak freely, and Insider reviewed documentation confirming pay and other major items (some budget items were estimated by the workers and their comments have been condensed and edited for clarity).
To participate in Insider’s Hollywood Salary Diaries, email email@example.com with the subject line “Hollywood Salary Diary.” We’ll contact you from there to send you a template so you can start tracking your salary and budget. Here’s how it works.
This story was originally published on October 12. It has been updated.