How Much Do Filmmakers Get Paid?

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Directors and producers work on different aspects of the filmmaking process.
Directors and producers work on different aspects of the filmmaking process. (Image: Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Filmmakers work as either producers or directors, both of which play integral parts in the making of any film production. Directors take charge of the creative aspects of the production, making sure the actors, set designers, camera crew and others all work together to create a final product. Producers are mostly involved with the financial and business side of film making .

National Breakdown

As of May of 2010, a total of 83,520 filmmakers were employed in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), making an average salary of $88,610 per year. The 90th percentile of filmmakers earned more than $166,400 annually, while the 75th percentile earned $111,720 a year. The bottom 10th percentile of filmmakers made $32,140 and the 25th percentile made $45,470.

Top Industries

The accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping and payroll services industry paid the highest average salary to filmmakers, totaling $121,940 per year. Filmmakers who worked in the motion picture and video industry made the second-highest average salary at $109,860, while those who were in advertising, public relations and related services earned the third-highest average salary of $105,600. Filmmakers who worked for themselves made the second-highest average yearly income of $101,240. Business schools and computer and management training facilities paid the fifth-highest average salary to filmmakers, which came to $97,350 per year.

Top Cities

The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale metropolitan area in California came in first in the nation for average filmmaker income, which totaled $138,640 per year. Second in the nation was the Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford area of Connecticut, where filmmakers earned an average $116,570 a year. Filmmakers in the New York-White Plains-Wayne metropolitan area earned the third-highest average pay in the nation at $114,680, while those who worked in the Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura area of California made the fourth-highest average salary of $104,070. Harrisonburg, Virginia, ranked fifth in the nation, with its filmmakers averaging $96,740 a year.

Top States

California topped the rest of the nation for the average income earned by its filmmakers, which averaged $126,360 per year. Second in the nation was New York State, where filmmakers earned an average salary of $111,930. The District of Columbia came in third with an average income of $90,820 for filmmakers, while Tennessee ranked fourth at an average income of $79,470. Filmmakers in New Jersey earned the fifth-highest average salary of $74,450.

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