Beyond the glitz and glam, here are six careers that are crucial to the success of a production
When you think of a career in the film and TV industry, what first comes to mind? It may be movie stars and the glittering lights of the Oscars’ red carpet. Or perhaps you envision a famous film director, standing beside a camera, intensely focused on the scene before them as someone yells, “Action!” You may even picture a writer’s room on a TV series, with enthusiastic creatives brainstorming the ideas that will become your next favourite show.
But while the high-profile careers of actors, directors and writers may dominate the limelight, film and TV can’t be made without the hundreds of other unsung heroes that bring a production to life. And here in Canada, where our screen production revenue topped $11-billion in 2021, the demand for trained workers is rapidly outpacing the supply, leading to significant, industry-wide labour shortages.
As an executive producer on some of Canada’s most successful TV series, from Schitt’s Creek and Jann, to The Kids in the Hall and Son of a Critch, I have a unique perspective on the landscape of the Canadian film and TV industry. What I see is that it has changed immensely in the 20 years since I first started. Back then, there weren’t a lot of opportunities and only a small group of people were fortunate enough to build reliable, stable careers in the industry. But that is not the story today. Today, this sector is a huge economic engine, experiencing unprecedented growth. And here in Canada, we add a unique perspective and value to productions that are garnering global attention.
One of the challenges, of course, is that with a boom you need a trained work force – and we are having a hard time playing catch-up. This is why I became president of Toronto Film School. I believe it’s our responsibility, as an educational institution, to act as a solution-oriented industry stakeholder; we can see how and where the industry is growing and address that labour demand by providing hands-on practical training to students who want to be part of this dynamic business.
There are so many in-demand opportunities on a set that often fly under the radar. Here are six careers experiencing labour shortages in the film and television industry:
1. Line Producer
Line producers oversee the day-to-day operations of the production. A line producer is responsible for hiring the crew and needs to know how to negotiate contracts, develop production schedules, track expenditures and troubleshoot financial allocations.
2. Camera Operator
Camera operators capture the action of film, TV and video productions. They are responsible for handling the camera during the shoot and must have familiarity with a variety of equipment, including film and digital cameras, lenses and lighting set-ups. A camera operator composes the shot in service of the story, utilizing creativity to get the desired footage.
3. Post-Production Supervisor
Post-production supervisors manage the completion of a film or TV show from acquisition of footage through to final delivery. This includes supervising the team that works directly on the editing, colour correction, audio mixing, dialogue, music, sound effects and final output – ensuring all elements are completed on time and within budget.
4. Sound Mixer
Sound mixers capture the scene’s audio. They are masters of all sound equipment and recording techniques for both in-studio and on-location shoots. A sound mixer makes microphone recommendations and determines mic placement during production, and also mixes and balances the audio as it’s being recorded. This is a high-pressure job that requires quick thinking to resolve in-the-moment sound issues such as echoes, background noise and audio distortion.
Grips are technicians who set up and operate the equipment supporting the camera and lighting crews. A grip reports to the director of photography and must have wide-ranging expertise in all camera and lighting equipment, as they work with dollies, tripods, cranes and other camera mounts, as well as creating lighting set-ups using diffusers, filters, nets, etc.
6. Production Accountant
Production accountants are responsible for monitoring and captaining the production’s finances through every stage of development. They prepare budgets, issue cost reports, organize payroll and vendor payouts, develop cost forecasts and oversee audits.
This exciting industry isn’t just for “dreamers” or “creative types” – it’s also for practical thinkers, technical experts, project managers, designers and leaders. Choosing a path in film and TV is a pragmatic career choice and at Toronto Film School our students graduate industry-ready, equipped with the skills they need to step onto any professional film or TV set in this country and beyond.
To learn more about Toronto Film School and its diploma programs, visit torontofilmschool.ca
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