23 Exciting Jobs in the Film Industry
Updated July 21, 2022
The film industry provides a vast set of its own job titles that each require a unique set of skills. Entering and thriving in this field can be rewarding though it typically demands a lot of hard work and perseverance for success. If you're interested in working in movies and television, this article will give you an idea of some possible career paths you may want to further consider.
Top 23 jobs in the film industry
While this is by no means an exhaustive list of all the opportunities in this industry, here are some careers in film that can give you some ideas on how you might best fit into the moving picture industry for your career.
National average salary: $42,898 per year
Primary duties: Hair and makeup are huge contributors to how an actor looks on screen. A hairstylist creates hair and wig looks for actors to embody their characters and stands by throughout the shoot to help actors maintain appearances.
They collaborate with other film industry professionals like art directors, makeup artists, costume designers to make sure the hairstyles match the story's time period and aesthetic as well as how a character should look in a given scene. On some productions, they may create special effects looks using actors' natural hair or wigs to create unique looks or ones that can stand up to the elements during rough filming conditions.
Related: Learn About Being a Hairstylist
2. Film crew
National average salary: $25,404 per year
Primary duties: The term "film crew" is an umbrella term for the many roles crew members work to provide hands-on assistance in nearly every department involved with the active shooting of a film, including lighting, sound, props and camera operation. Their duties vary depending on the department they serve, but responsibilities may include managing supplies, running errands, setting up and tearing down equipment.
Some film crew roles include grips and gaffers who work in lighting, as well as a plethora of other roles such as boom operators and script supervisors, just to name a few. These roles range in skill level and a film's production value will greatly influence the income for everyone involved in a production.
National average salary: $18,266 per year
Primary duties: An actor is a performer who portrays a character on screen. They're responsible for learning lines, rehearsing blocking, collaborating with other actors and the director on portrayal techniques and acting out filmed scenes to the satisfaction of the director. In some cases, they may also be required to do press for projects, such as promotional interviews and events.
An actor's responsibilities and presence can also vary greatly in a production, from leading role to what is known as an "extra" which refers to actors who portray people in the background of a scene who have no speaking roles and generally do not get targeted face time on camera.
National average salary: $33,275 per year
Primary duties: A production assistant (PA) is responsible for assisting with various people in filmmaking roles, their duties facilitating people management, time management, organization and communication responsibilities. This is a common entry-level position for someone pursuing a career working on set in the film industry.
Types of production assistants
Set PAs: They work on a film set and can be assigned to various departments that would make their job details vary. For example, a PA in the wardrobe department may be ironing clothes while a PA in another department could be pulling up gaffer tape. A set PA can typically expect to help talent get to where they need to be in a timely fashion, setting up equipment and running errands for directors and producers.
Office PAs: These professionals work in a production company office and may be responsible for handling phone calls, coordinating with location managers and vendors, running errands and delivering scripts or daily footage.
Postproduction PAs: They assist postproduction filmmakers like editors and producers by cataloging footage, managing data storage, helping scan through film and gathering additional supplies.
National average salary: $33,026 per year
Primary duties: A camera operator manually shoots footage using a film camera and is responsible for collaborating with directors and the directors of photography (DPs), setting up angles, carrying the camera and capturing balanced footage during moving shots and using camera equipment like dollies and Steadicam setups. Their goal is to shoot the footage so that it's clear and meets the director's and DP's expectations for the story.
National average salary: $43,587 per yearr
Primary duties: An animator works on animation projects by drawing characters and scenery and engineering movement using digital animation tools. They may also work in special effects departments creating backgrounds and inserting characters and objects into the footage.
Related: Learn About Being an Animator
7. Video editor
National average salary: $43,186 per year
Primary duties: A video editor is a key component to postproduction, whose responsibility is to take and edit the footage into the final project or teaser trailers to promote the film. These professionals are responsible for organizing footage into the chronology of the story, collaborating with the director to select the best takes, correcting color and lighting and adding sound and dialogue.
National average salary: $35,247 per year
Primary duties: This filmmaking professional is responsible for operating the equipment that records, mixes and improves sound captured for a film project. They're in charge of setting up mics, collaborating with directors to place devices in the best locations, monitoring sound recording and ensuring the set is quiet to capture the clearest footage. In postproduction, they may clean up the audio and collaborate with video editors to insert it into the final project.
National average salary: $53,021 per year
Primary duties: A lighting technician, also known as a gaffer, is a film electrician responsible for setting up lighting kits according to a DP's instructions. They use advanced electrical knowledge and creative lighting skills to adequately light a scene to the story's specifications, angle lights, determine lighting setups for scenes, manage equipment in a lighting kit and maintain everyone's safety regarding the use of electricity and powerful lights.
Related: Learn About Being an Electrician
10. Costume designer
National average salary: $3,482 per month
Primary duties: A costume designer creates and selects the clothes worn by actors and background actors in a film or TV project. They collaborate with the director to identify factors like time period, plot and character development that may impact clothing choices, purchase clothes and accessories, design and sew specialized clothing and accessories and fit actors in costumes.
National average salary: $49,531 per year
Primary duties: A runner is a junior production assistant who provides administrative and organizational support to people involved with filmmaking, including directors, producers, actors, DPs, camera operators and gaffers. Depending on who they support, they may run errands, deliver equipment and other cargo to set and provide additional assistance where necessary.
National average salary: $21.77 per hour
Primary duties: A choreographer is a dance instructor who plans and teaches dance numbers to actors to perform on screen. Depending on the film, the choreography may work on a large portion of the film, such as in a musical, or may work on a scene or two. They may create and teach small or large group numbers, individual numbers and those for pairs in a variety of dance styles, including ballroom, hip-hop and tap. Choreographers typically spend time before production begins guiding performers through the moves and providing additional assistance and instruction while on set.
13. Location manager
National average salary: $48,944 per year
Primary duties: A location manager is a preproduction professional who researches and selects locations for filming. In collaboration with producers and location scouts, they also secure filming rights, permits and other necessary documentation for a shoot and ensure the cost of the location, staff travel and equipment delivery stay within budget.
National average salary: $49,620 per year
Primary duties: A producer manages the business aspects of production, including hiring directors and DPs, securing funds, budgeting, finding scripts and maintaining organization and the timeline of a project. They may collaborate with directors and talent to ensure story quality, secure additional resources and report progress to the production company and financiers.
National average salary: Salary data not available
Primary duties: A screenwriter, often referred to as a scriptwriter, creates the story that is filmed, including the characters and plot. In some cases, the writer may just write the initial script, sell it to a production company, make revisions and then begin work on another project. In other cases, the writer may participate during production, making revisions and providing feedback to directors and producers.
National average salary: $47,403 per year
Primary duties: A cinematographer, or director of photography (DP), collaborates with the director to place the camera to shoot a scene, capturing the scenery, character emotions, suspense and other elements of the story in a given moment. They lead camera operators in placing and moving the camera, lighting professionals in providing just the right amount of light and set designers in providing props and adding other lifelike elements to the setting.
National average salary: $56,072 per year
Primary duties: The associate producer works in a supportive role to the producer and is responsible for communicating expectations between producers and production crew members, organizing script versions and filming documents and rewriting scripts to ensure what's on the page matches what takes place in the shot. In some cases, this role may write and edit scripts to enhance content production, especially on TV projects.
National average salary: $56,471 per year
Primary duties: An assistant director supports the film director by monitoring the shooting timeline, managing background performers, coordinating different departments and filmmakers on set and planning daily call sheets that say when talent needs to be on set.
19. Makeup artist
National average salary: $74,154 per year
Primary duties: A makeup artist collaborates with costume designers, hairstylists and others in the art department to create makeup looks for filming. Their goal is to match the time period, the chronology of the plot and character traits to allow actors to transform into their characters for the camera. Some makeup artists do special effects makeup, which can involve prosthetics and other advanced techniques to create unique looks.
Related: Learn About Being a Makeup Artist
20. Art director
National average salary: $76,435 per year
Primary duties: In the film industry, the art director refers to the person who leads set design and construction to enhance locations or create sets for filming. They collaborate with directors, DPs and others to determine the motifs and tones of the film. Art directors then create or order sketches of various scenes, characters or sets to showcase this vision to other filmmakers, like lighting technicians, costume designers, makeup artists, special effects artists and editors.
Related: Learn About Being an Art Director
21. Casting manager
National average salary: $77,234 per year
Primary duties: A casting manager, also known as a casting director, is responsible for scouting and selecting talent for a film, including central cast members and background actors. When selecting main cast members, they typically collaborate with the director, producers and sometimes the screenwriter to cast the best actors. For background actors, they may lead the entire process with the help of casting assistants.
National average salary: $83,226 per year
Primary duties: An executive producer may provide financing for a film, share creative feedback and participate in important creative decisions—including casting, location selection and story revisions. They may also find additional financiers, secure funding, oversee the production, postproduction and marketing budgets and supervise directors and producers on set. They may also request and review dailies, which are the collections of footage shot each day, to see progress and content quality.
National average salary: $99,748 per year
Primary duties: The director oversees the entire production with the help of assistant directors and producers. In preproduction, they collaborate with DPs and art directors to visualize a script, help cast actors and provide feedback on and approve locations and set designs. While shooting, they instruct and motivate actors on set, make important creative decisions regarding the style and execution of the story and report to executive producers on progress and quality. During postproduction, they collaborate with editors to put the footage together into the final product and order reshoots for missing or inadequate footage.
Explore more articles
- 11 Things To Know About Jobs for American Lawyers Abroad
- 11 Freelancer Jobs for Students (With Wages and Duties)
- 15 Different Army Military Occupational Specialties
- RD vs. RDN: Here's What You Need To Know
- 19 Jobs You Can Do With an Anthropology Degree (With Salaries)
- What You Need to Know About Night Shift Jobs
- How To Become a Registered Nurse in Florida: A Guide
- Internships for Teenagers: 15 Opportunities To Explore
- 14 Job Titles in Social Media (With Salaries)
- FAQ: What Is a Headhunter Fee and How Much Does It Cost?
- How Long Does It Take To Become a Chiropractor?
- Contractual Employees vs. Permanent Employees: A Guide