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TOUGH MONEY: Entertainment

Entertaining Prospects

Jobs in Entertainment Are Expected to Soar as Film, Cable and TV Studios Expand


Ongoing growth in cable and satellite TV, video film sales and foreign entertainment sales are fueling a massive entertainment expansion boom that is sweeping the San Fernando Valley and greater Los Angeles. This construction bonanza, in which NBC, CBS, Warner Bros. and Universal Studios are increasing in size, has helped jump-start the economy: The 121,000 entertainment jobs created in Los Angeles County since 1988 have nearly filled the gap left by the loss of 140,000 aerospace jobs. Economists expect the number of jobs in entertainment-related fields will continue to increase into the 21st century.

Here are some examples of jobs available in one of Southern California's "signature industries" and what you can expect to make doing them (though most of these jobs are seasonal or limited to movie shooting schedules):

Actor. Union per diem minimums: day performer, $540; stunt performer, $540; stunt coordinator, $540; singers (theatrical and television solo and duo), $583; dancers (theatrical only, solo and duo), $540.

Animal trainer. Trains both wild and domestic animals to appear in television shows or movies. Union minimums: $26.60 an hour for dogs, $30.72 an hour for stabled animals or wild animals.

Animator. Devises general design and concept of an animated film and does drawings of the characters. Union minimum: $1,107 a week.

Art director. Designs and oversees construction of sets and selects props and costumes. Also scouts locations outside the studio. Union weekly minimums: for taped television, $1,420;; for film, $2,223.46.

Camera operator. Manages and moves the camera during shooting, views the scene through the viewfinder and makes certain the image is correct. Union minimum: $1,583.20 a week.

Costumer. Procures clothing, costumes and accessories for a film production before shooting begins and maintains them during filming. Union weekly minimums: costume designer, $1,583.53; assistant designer, $1,293; sketch artist, $986.39.

Director. Involved in all aspects of creating a TV show or film, such as casting, working with the art director, creating a shooting schedule, planning lighting with the director of photography and communicating with actors and editors. Union weekly minimums: for theatrical motion pictures, $6,406 for films budgeted at up to $500,000; $7,280 for films budgeted from $500,000 to $1.5 million; $10,193 for films budgeted over $1.5 million; $7,280 for shorts/documentaries. For network prime-time television: $15,358 a week per each half-hour show; $26,082 a week per each one-hour show; $43,469 a week per each 90-minute show; $73,024 a week per two-hour show. For non-network, non-prime-time television shows: $6,291 a week per half-hour show; $12,577 a week per one-hour show; $18,871 a week per 90-minute show; $25,162 a week per two-hour show.

Director of photography. Lights the set or location and directs the general composition of the scene, the colors of the images, the choice of cameras, lens and film stock, the settings and movements of the camera and the integration of special effects. Union minimum: $2,514.97 per week.

Editor. Shapes and arranges shots, scenes and sequences while integrating sound. Union weekly minimums: apprentice, $856.91; assistant editor, $1,153.97; animation editor, $1,173.20; trailer editor, $1,328.92; sound/music editor, $1,446.86; picture editor, $1,984.86.

Electrician. Chief electrician, known as a gaffer, supplies, places, maintains and operates the required lights and power sources. Union hourly minimums: maintenance, $24.13; construction, $27.43.

Extra. Appears in a crowd scene or as an incidental figure in a film without speaking any lines. Union per diem minimums: general, $79; special-ability, $89; stand-in, $102; choreographed swimmers and skaters, $244.

Grip. Works on an assortment of jobs, including transporting and setting up equipment, props and scenery, diffusing lighting, laying dolly tracks and pushing the dolly during shooting. Union minimum: $24 an hour.

Property master. Obtains, alters and builds props for TV shows and films and makes sure they are available during shooting. Union minimum: $1,672.14 a week.

Set decorator. Decorates the set with props, furnishings, ornamentation and artwork. Union minimum: $1,706.14 a week.

Sound technician. Mixes sound tracks, records sound during production and records music for a film. Union minimum: $1,836.10 a week.

Writer. Drafts stories for television shows and motion pictures. Script fees: Half-hour prime-time network show, $16,910; one-hour network television episode, $25,018; original screenplay, including treatment, $76,592. Note: An average working member of the writers guild makes $75,000 in a calendar year. Screenplay fees vary with the number of drafts written.

Note: Union minimums are minimum rates employers are required to pay union personnel when they are shooting a production. The minimums are determined by contracts negotiated between unions and employers.

Sources: Directors Guild of America; Jack Kyser, Economic Development Corp. of Los Angeles County; Entertainment Partners, "96-97 Paymaster"; Motion Picture Editors Guild; Motion Picture Studio Grips; Screen Actors Guild; Script Supervisors Local 871; "The Complete Film Dictionary" by Ira Konigsberg; Times reports; Writers Guild of America West

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