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Comparing Director and Screenwriter Jobs
© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.
A movie or TV program requires the efforts of several types of professionals to reach its audience. As of 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics counted 352,340 total workers in motion pictures and video, and 291,150 professionals in broadcasting. These industries contained such varied occupations as management, sales, arts and design, and production. Two of the better-known job types belong to directors and screenwriters.
Directors hold the highest creative title in any entertainment production, often second only to producers in authority and responsibility, and ultimately answerable to them.
- They audition and select actors, decide on production staff, and shoot the movie or program so it remains on schedule and under budget.
- Because they may have selected or approved the script being produced, directors have broad discretion in modifying it so it fits their creative needs and studio requirements.
- They may further change the screenwriter’s intention by editing the final product as they see fit.
As of May 2011, according to the BLS, directors in motion pictures and video earned a mean $115,920 per year, or $55.73 per hour.
- Those in radio and television broadcasting averaged $69,540 yearly, or $33.43 hourly.
- This was higher than the mean $92,220 yearly, or $44.34 hourly, earned by all directors, including those in theater and live entertainment, and put it near the top 25 percent of all directorial salaries, which ran an annual $116,020 or $55.78 per hour.
- Most directors have a bachelor’s degree in acting, communication or writing. However, their primary qualification is several years as actors, writers, editors or choreographers.
Screenwriters create the script used by producers to put together a production, actors to perform dialog and movement, and directors to create a movie or TV program.
- They decide on the characters and setting, determine their motives and goals, and write the text on computers, primarily using word processors or script applications.
- Most develop their creations as a freelance effort, which they then try to market to production companies for a fixed fee and/or royalties.
- They generally have no control over how their creations are modified once they are bought, unless they also direct the production.
Average earnings for screenwriters in motion pictures and video was $100,060 per year, or $48.10 per hour, while those in radio and television broadcasting made $63,900 yearly, or $30.72 hourly.
- Compare these amounts to the average annual $68,060, or $32.72 hourly, made by all authors and writers.
- No formal education is needed to become a screenwriter, although many have bachelor’s degrees in English, communications or journalism.
- A necessary quality for the profession, aside from creativity and talent, is perseverance. The profession is highly competitive with studios able to choose from too many script submissions. Knowing directors and other decision-makers in the industry can help speed a script on its journey toward production.
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- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is the principal fact-finding agency for the Federal Government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics.