How to get into them, and how much they pay

When the majority of people think of working in the film industry, the first thing they picture is actors going through auditions or working on set.

However, the people (and work) that the public at large gets to see is only a comparatively tiny part of the industry. Today we’ll be looking at four of the most desirable jobs in the industry, how much they pay and how to get into them…

Pyrotechnician

When you’re at a party and someone asks you what you do for a living, responding with ‘I work with pyrotechnics on film sets’ is guaranteed to turn heads.

pyrotechnician

Pay: It’s a much more nuanced job than you might expect, and not too badly paid either – anywhere from $100 to $2000 per job, although it’s very hard to find a salaried position.

How to Get Into it: Naturally, only licensed professionals may legally handle pyrotechnical equipment and laws vary by state and even locality. The best route into the industry is to embark on an apprenticeship with a reputable fireworks company and work up from there.

Location Scout

In terms of jobs which travel, being a location scout for a pre-production team is up there with the best of them. It’s more involved that just bumming around the countryside taking photos, but nevertheless it’s an amazingly fulfilling job if you’re lucky enough to beat the sheer number of people also competing to break into location scouting.

location scout jobs

Pay: Phenomenal, but this reflects how highly specialized and tricky it is to successfully become a scout. Although work can be seasonal, location scouts can earn an average of $500-$600 per day plus a hefty travel allowance. On a yearly basis a good scout generally makes between $40k-$50k per year, if not more.

How to Get Into it: With difficulty! As you can imagine, the amount of people wanting to land such a dream job poses problems. There are no official qualifications or training as such, but you’ll need to be a stellar networker in order to a) build up a database of locations and contacts, and b) land gigs.

Talent Agent

Admittedly, it’s not the most outwardly glamorous role in film (chances are you can’t even name one high-profile talent agent) but it certainly deserves a place on this list, if only for the average earnings of talent agents. Getting to mingle with the stars behind closed doors is a pretty nice perk to the job, too.

talent agents

Pay: Talent agents are, in fact, the best paid professionals in the industry (even moreso than A-list actors, directors and producers). If the Bureau of Labor Statistics is to be believed, the annual mean salary tops out at a whopping $178,340 (as of 2010). Not too bad for a primarily office-based job!

How to Get Into it: As with location scouting, talent agents rely on expert networking in order to soar up the ranks. A background in marketing, contract law or film production is usually necessary before landing entry-level work with an agency and building your own profile. Of course, your success relies solely on the talent you represent, so reputation is everything in what might be the most cut-throat career path in the world.

Casting Director

Making the deciding call as to who will be right for a given role is absolutely as cool as it sounds. No two days are the same, and anyone who has ever met a casting director will attest to the fact that they have some of the most amazing tales from the field.

casting couch

Pay: Unfortunately, while it’s one of the most interesting jobs in film, it’s not particularly well paid. Work can be hard to come by and even then you’ll be looking at $400 per week at best when you’re starting out (unless you catch lucky and get hired for a multi-million dollar summer blockbuster).

How to Get Into it: The tried-and-tested route to getting into casting is to get in with a talent agency as an assistant, or by interning with an already established casting director. Personal experience in the acting world is also a boon to recognizing good talent. There are plenty of reputable film schools in LA through which you can gain industry insight in this area, even if it’s only through doing a few weekend courses.

 

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