Film is a gruelling business that requires a lot of energy, passion and time, so it is only fair that you’re compensated for all you put into your job. It might not surprise you to learn that some are rewarded more than others for the energy they put into their work. Here’s a look at the top five highest paying positions in the film industry.
1 – Producer
As the producer, it’s probable you’re behind the scenes for the entirety of a film’s production: helping finance the film, shoot it and ensure its distribution. Not only do producers know how to spot great talent, they also have the business savvy to ensure that everything runs smoothly, helping everyone on the production stay sane.
The average annual salary of a film producer clocks in at a whopping $109,000! That’s over $50 an hour and the average Los Angeles producer can even make $66 an hour! Of course, producers’ salaries rely on the film’s budget. So although Scott Rudin made $2.5 million on Fast & Furious 7, very few producers will receive that hefty a pay check.
2 – Director
If you’re interested in a career in film, directing has probably crossed your mind. Dictating the artistic vision of a film, the director is core to ensuring words in the script make it to the big screen. On average, directors earn about $106,000 a year thanks to the vision and creativity they bring to each project. Like producers, a director’s salary is dependant on the film’s production budget. Low-budget feature directors earn about $7,608 a week while big budget and blockbuster film directors can rake in over $12,000 dollars on a Friday! Christopher Nolan for example earned an incredible $20 million for directing Interstellar.
3 – Screenwriter
As crucial as a director is, a film is nothing without a script! Screenwriters are entrusted with being able to bring a story and characters to life, and, although many screenwriters don’t see the majority of their work produced, they are paid handsomely when their creativity is a success.
Screenwriters make an average of $78,860 a year, earning over $37 an hour. While some directors like Quentin Tarantino direct their own screenplays, many screenwriters put their scripts into the agile hands of other directors which can win them big bucks! Joe Eszterhas earned $3 million for penning Basic Instinct. A handsome reward, right?.
4 – Editor
Responsible for piecing together the final film, editors are crucial to making a film screen ready. We’ve discussed before how film editors aren’t always the most employed professionals in film, but when they are, they are paid handsomely for it.
Editors can make an average of $66,690 a year, with the top 10% of editors raking in over $100,000. Freelance editors can also make $61,270 a year while the bottom 10% of film editors make $26,350 a year. Still not too shoddy.
5 – Actor
Unquestionably the most public figure of a movie, actors not only help bring a director and screenwriter’s vision to life, but are largely responsible for how much box office business a film will attract. Actors however aren’t always paid the most, and it isn’t uncommon to hear of an actor doing a film ‘for love.’ It’s therefore difficult to come up with a precise salary range for actors, but we’ve done our best.
The average annual salary of a SAG accredited actor is $5,000, meaning they’re earning under London living wage. However, SAG has a whopping 100,000 members, so defining just how many of them are working consistently is difficult to ascertain. If a SAG actor is hired for a film, they are guaranteed to earn no less than $782 a day thanks to union legisation. Many actors earn less than that, but with experience, passion, and luck maybe you’ll be raking in the $75 million Robert Downey Jr. earned for Iron Man 3 (though I wouldn’t turn down Barkhad Abdi’s $65,000 Captain Philips pay check either.)
Filmmaking is an art, and although many get massive payouts for the work they do, most in the industry do it to pursue their creative dream. Although you may know of a handful of names, the stars are just the lucky 1% in a business supported by armies of artists trying to tell the world their story.