Why This Film & Television Supervisor Rejoiced Over A $1/Hour Raise

ILLUSTRATION BY VERO ROMERO
In our series My Salary Story, women with long-term career experience open up about the most intimate details of their jobs: compensation. It’s an honest look at how real people navigate the complicated world of negotiating, raises, promotions, and job loss, with the hope it will give young women more insight into how to advocate for themselves — and maybe take a few risks along the way.
Been in the workforce for at least eight years, and interested in contributing your salary story? Email us here.
Previously, we talked to a 33-year-old sales manager who was laid off during the Great Recession. Today, we connect with a 35-year-old department supervisor in film who has navigated paychecks in a less traditional industry.
Age: 35
Current Location: Georgia
Industry & Title: Film & Television, Department Supervisor
Starting Salary: ~$12/hour. "But this was not in the film industry."
Current Salary: $43/hour. "My industry is a little unique in that I do not receive a salary; I negotiate an hourly rate for each film or TV show I'm on, as well as for my assistants. There is a minimum (referred to as 'scale') set by the union I belong to. I currently make about $8-$10/hour above scale, depending on the contract. Different projects have different contracts based on budget. (A blockbuster superhero movie will not have the same contract as a $3 million independent film.) My rate includes full benefits paid by my employer."
Number Of Years Employed: 12. "I have been in the workforce since graduating from college in 2006. (Although I worked all throughout high school and college!)"
Biggest Income Jump: "This a little hard to quantify since I’m paid an hourly rate and only for a period of a few months at a time, but I went from $36/hour in 2016 to $40/hour on the next project."
Biggest Income Drop: "When I started as a department head, I had to take projects with much smaller budgets in order to get credits. (Before then, I had been working as an assistant on larger projects, so my rate was better.) I probably went from low $30/hour rates to mid $20/hour rates at that time. This only lasted a couple years as I got credits and moved up to bigger projects."
Biggest Salary Negotiation Regret: "Not realizing I should have been asking for more earlier on. Many times, I felt like I should just take what was offered to me and be glad I got anything. It took me a long time to realize I could and should ask for more because I was worth more."
Best Salary-Related Advice: "Do not undersell yourself. It can be awkward at first to stick to your guns and prove that you deserve what you are asking for. I always follow up negotiations with an email so everything is in writing and I can refer to it later. 'Thanks for your time today. Just wanted to review what we discussed…' and so on."

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