Golden Age? Show Me the Coinage

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

To all my Local 700 brethren and sistren,

A prolonged period away from the cutting room has resulted in my giving a great deal of thought to our collective lives in post-production. Not that type of a break that we all know as “I’m on vacation” — which quickly gives way to “My god, I need a gig!” — but a true respite. Perhaps it’s the tranquility of the Wisconsin countryside. Or living in a town where the Calendar Section is… a calendar! Or the fact that at the age of 63, I just may be given to actually enjoying a slower pace. Of course, raising two grandkids, ages two and four, does keep one on one’s toes…

My few forays into non-feature editing were no less challenging. But they paid less money.

But as I continue to read about this new “Golden Age” of cable, TV, streaming, etc., and the fine work being done in post (despite the proverbial tight schedules constantly referred to), I find myself asking, “Why does the pay still suck?” Why are editors, mixers and the like told, “Oh, we/they don’t pay that rate,” or assistants placed in the uncomfortable and unfair position of working in an environment where, “we/they don’t pay OT.” Sure, they may have their lunches purchased for them — it keeps them in the building, or worse, at their Avids — which is a wise investment on the part of the producers. But fancy items in the pantry shouldn’t be considered a “fine perk.”

The caste system still imposed on those in post-production seems to harken back to when the schism between features and television was very real, clear and finite. However, this “Golden Age” has greatly changed that dynamic. As a feature editor for many, many years, I for one enjoyed the upside of that system. My few forays into non-feature editing in the last couple of years were no less enjoyable or challenging. But they paid less money. Why?

Why is cutting a superhero/robot/ten-minute-car-chase set piece a superior avenue to financial reward than the myriad of amazing non-feature presentations out there?

As the Netflixes, Amazons, Hulus, etc., build their Xanadus in Hollywood (or as Joseph Cotten called them in Citizen Kane, “Sloppy Joe’s”), I hope that those who work within their state-of-the-art facilities will be given state-of-the-art salaries.

Will this letter change anything? Certainly not. But for those in their 20s, 30s and 40s who commit themselves to a life in post, I want to give credit where it’s deserved. There should be more to their professional excellence than middling paychecks and a chance to win a shiny gold statue.

“Golden Age?” Perhaps for those above the line. But for those of us below? That line seems thicker, harder and more impenetrable than ever.

David Moritz, ACE,
Picture Editor
Sherman Oaks, CA

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