The Fear

I’ve been working as an editor for a long time now and I’ve always felt that the film business was more or less recession-proof. When the economy got bad people generally watched more movies and television. No matter what was happening to other businesses, Hollywood always did okay.

But today things don’t look so great. Below-the-line wages are down. In post production, this is partly because so many new people are entering the field. Editing has come out of the closet and has become, dare I say it, glamorous, to many people. This is a wonderful thing, but it brings with it increased competition, which inevitably puts downward pressure on wages. Even worse, there seems to be an across the board attempt on the part of many producers to lower below-the-line wages. And that’s hurting everybody.

But the real issue, the real monster in the closet, is the growth of the Internet as a video distribution medium. Nobody knows how this is going to shake out. The result is a pervasive sense of unease on the part of everybody in established media, from the lowliest messenger to the most powerful mogul, from newspapers to radio to television to film. What’s coming? What part of my business model is about to crumble? How do I prepare for it? And will I have a job when the dust settles? Nobody is immune.

This week we saw the release of the Apple TV, (reviewed in the NY Times by David Pogue), and yesterday NBC & News Corp. announced a big advertising-sponsored deal to distribute their content on the web.

We’re heading toward a world where you’ll be able to watch just about any video that was ever made and do so literally anywhere and any time you like. And that’s rocking our world in a way that’s never been felt before. It’s empowering a whole new group of filmmakers and entrepreneurs, and it’s scaring the bejesus out of everybody else.

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7 Comments on “The Fear”

  1. H. Martinez Says:

    Bro, I had a client come in with a rough cut on his brand new macbook…all i had to do was mix it properly and tweak some cuts. I mean…where is this going really?

  2. Edit Says:

    Not only that, but you’ll begin to see projects shipped off to India for cutting. There are firms already running and attempting to exploit this. When media is nothing but 1s and 0s, it can be sent anywhere on the planet.

  3. Steve Says:

    Everybody facing a serious commute wants to work at home. And in LA, that means just about everybody. But the better we get at sharing work over the Internet the more we empower people and companies to do it from far, far away where the money is far, far less. Catch 22.

  4. H. Martinez Says:

    Yeah…I’ve seen that. Shipped to India, Mexico and the Caribbean where labor is about 1/4 the price. Not to mention that all they need is to get the tapes fedex’ed to them, and they can send them back later with EDL’s, audio OMF’s for the online…but truly…it doesn’t really bother me that another editor gets the gig…it’s just that it’s disturbing that a client from a fortune 500 company decides that editing is fun all of the sudden. I was shocked seeing this guy walk in with the cut on his labtop.

  5. Robert Shontell Says:

    I think we can take this idea of downgrading the editor a little farther. I was thinking that if systems are cheap enough the networks can install them in prison cells and have inmates on death row edit shows for a few packs of cigarettes. Everything can be done on line and we could outsource licence plate making to some third world country.

  6. Rob Says:

    I just found your blog tonight, and I must say I really get into it. I’m one of these “newbie” editors, and I’d like to weigh in: I try to have my finger on the pulse of new media as a constant. Yeah, a lot of people are going to get into cutting their own stuff… But let’s be honest with ourselves and shake some of the fear off. Some suit in an office isn’t going to know how to do higher level effects, or even mattes, for that matter. What it will all come down to, in my opinion, is higher quality mainstream production. We’re going to see an increase in effects on TV, etc.

    All in all, without going into too great of detail… I think our jobs are safe, they are just changing. Just being able to cut doesn’t make you an editor, and some people will realize that and hire real editors. Their products will always look better than the average Joe with FCP, generally speaking.

  7. Steve Says:

    Rob,

    Welcome aboard. I think you’re right — our jobs will change but they’ll probably still be there. But it’s ironic that we’re talking about this again on the eve of a writer’s strike that is all about residuals for new markets — a writer’s strike that’s got the whole town pretty darn scared about the future of dramatic television.

    Steve


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