While I am not a person who finds himself unmoved by the burden on working families who must contend with the brutal realities of the globalized film labor market, the peculiar perspective in "On the Road, on Location" (Jan. 7) gave me cause to stop and reflect. The example given of the Hollywood craftsman who travels to foreign locales for months at a time and could be making as much as $250,000 a year completely floored me. He should count himself lucky that he hasn't lost his job, like scores of others.
Here is a much starker contrast: Witness the daily pilgrimage of women who cannot afford to make long-distance cell phone calls to their loved ones making the same bus trip nearly every day from overcrowded apartments in the worst parts of L.A. to clean beautiful homes. These same industrious immigrant women, earning minimum wage at best, often raise the children of the film industry's "wage slaves" while their own families hover near poverty without a mother at home.
Rancho Palos Verdes
I see another problem, and that is that this system threatens the very existence of the next generation of highly skilled workers here in the U.S. How will those of the next generation learn their skills if they are unable to get on a crew now to learn from this generation's production designer, director of photography, wardrobe designer or other key positions?
I attended film school, which was helpful, but my greatest education has taken place through working. Perhaps most important, work experience provides the credit to put on your credit list to get your next job.
Film production designer Jim Bissell drinks Veuve Clicquot champagne and Viktor Benes French roast coffee, owns his own home in Studio City, earns more than $3,000 a week and we are supposed to feel sorry for him because he has to spend time away from his family? Do I have to remind Bissell just how far he is ahead of 90% of the American public? Perhaps if Bissell and the unions that represent him and others involved in movie and television production hadn't driven their wages to such high levels they wouldn't have to watch their work being exported to countries where compensation is a bit more reasonable.