A person who is interested in the video, motion picture or entertainment industries might wonder what the salary potential for filmmakers is. Filmmakers include people who make independent films, short videos and box office films, and there is a wide range of salaries. Knowing how much a person can earn by doing this work could help choose a job offer or decide if this is the right career move.
Minimum, Median and Maximum Salaries of Filmmakers
As of 2016, the lowest-paid 10 percent of filmmakers earned an average of $34,450 per year. The highest-paid 10 percent of filmmakers earned more than $163,540 per year. The median annual salary of a filmmaker was $71,680. These numbers are based on people who work full-time as a filmmaker. It does not include people who work part-time or do gigs as filmmakers.
Filmmaker Salaries Based on Industry of Employment
Some industries of employment pay higher salaries to filmmakers than others. As of May 2018, the industry with the highest average salary potential for filmmakers was advertising and public relations. People who made films in that industry earned an average of more than $89,000 per year. The motion picture and video industries came in at the second-highest salary potential, with filmmakers earning an average of more than $84,000 per year. Filmmakers in the radio and television broadcasting industries earned an average of $63,000 per year. In the performing arts, spectator sports and related industries, the average salary of a filmmaker was $59,000 per year.
Salary Potential of Filmmakers Based on State and City
Another way to look at the salary potential of a filmmaker is by the geographic location of employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top five states for highest-paid filmmakers as of May 2018 were New York, California, New Jersey, District of Columbia and Connecticut. The top five paying cities or metropolitan areas for filmmakers were Los Angeles, New York City/Newark, San Francisco/Oakland, San Jose and Bridgeport/Stanford.
Factors That Go Into the Salary Potential of a Filmmaker
Some of the best-known filmmakers may earn millions of dollars for a project, especially if their past projects have grossed a large amount of money. Some filmmakers earn a percentage of ticket sales. This might be on top of their base salary for the project. Others might get a bonus if ticket sales reach a certain level. Some get additional money if the film is re-released. Additional factors in the salary of a filmmaker include level of education and years of experience in the industry. Earning an award, such as an Emmy or Oscar, could have a drastic increase in an individual’s salary potential.
Related Resource: 15 Best Affordable Film Studies Degree Programs
Most filmmakers will not become millionaires, but it is possible to earn a decent living in this occupation. It is also important to keep in mind that some of the places with the highest salary potential for filmmakers also have higher than average costs of living. Knowing the salary potential for filmmakers could help a person plan their financial future if they plan to engage in this line of work.