Profession, passion, or play? Attitudes to unpaid work in the film and TV industries

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This paper contextualises the prevalence of an unpaid work culture at entry level in the film and TV industries, then presents the findings and analysis of a survey of 1,100 media workers which examined ethical attitudes to unpaid work, including, for this conference, a specific analysis of the differences in responses between those in paid professional productions, and those on unpaid ‘hobby’ or ‘passion’ projects. The data suggests that there are consistent differences in ethical stance between the film and TV sectors, but that other factors – such as the nature of the funding model, and level of worker experience – showed a stronger correlation to varying ethical stance. The data also highlighted some of the key non-financial rewards which workers felt were associated with unpaid work, as well as suggesting trends over time in the increasing prevalence of unpaid work as a necessary entry route to employment. The strongest condemnation of unpaid work was clearly reserved for scenarios where inexperienced workers were expected to work for free, while others were profiting from the same production. Policy makers will be in tune with the views of the majority of workers, it seems, if they look not only to support fully paid crews across commercial productions, but also to establish acceptable frameworks within which films can be made on a shared and agreed not-for-profit basis.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 12 May 2016
EventWork and Play: An Interdisciplinary Conference - Manchester, UK
Duration: 12 May 2016 → …


ConferenceWork and Play: An Interdisciplinary Conference
Period12/05/16 → …


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