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How Much Money People Make in Hollywood Working Behind the Scenes

How Much Money People Make in Hollywood Working Behind the Scenes
Written by Publishing Team

  • Insider asked Hollywood workers who take on behind-the-scenes roles to share how much they earn.
  • We spoke with Assistant Literary Director, Office Administrator, Script Coordinator, and Accountant.
  • Money scams, such as getting most of your meals from an on-site catering service, help make ends meet.
  • Watch more stories on the Insider Business page.

Working in the entertainment industry has a unique and powerful allure with its proximity to fame, fortune, art and glamor.

But beneath the gleaming surface of Hollywood lie the thousands of cogs in the machine, from assistants to lighting technicians to costume designers to studio directors – some paying exorbitant amounts for their efforts, others much less.

The vote on IATSE’s strike license this summer, with tens of thousands of sub-professionals wanting to put a hiatus on the table in their union negotiations with major studios (represented by AMPTP), revealed just how tired many are of retribution. Working hours and conditions. An agreement was reached in October and ratified by IATSE members in November, but by a narrow majority.

Insider asked entertainment industry professionals of all positions and trades—some unionist, some not—to share how they meet their needs in the industry, their workload, and how they feel about their career path.

Support staff who responded felt particularly vulnerable, due to low wages and career progression that has stalled due to the pandemic.

‘Cause I work for a pittance, see you in debt, subsist on snacks in the book room, and writers throw out half sandwiches—yeah, I took their sandwiches out of the trash and I A.m An assistant level employee said, “I’m proud of that because I did what I had to do – keep working and maybe get my shot. But the shots are coming in less and less now.”

Monthly earnings and expenses were aggregated for four workers on different rungs of the Hollywood ladder: an assistant literary director (director of film and television writers), a production assistant in Atlanta, a script coordinator who recently left the workforce, and an accountant working on major network television series.

All workers were given anonymity so they could speak freely, and Insider reviewed documents confirming wages and other key items (some budget items were estimated by workers and their comments were summarized and edited for clarity).

To participate in Insider’s Hollywood salary diary, email elow@insider.com with the subject line “Hollywood salary diary.” We’ll call you from there to send you a form 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.

About the author

Publishing Team