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TV and film jobs may never fully recover post-pandemic, strikes, says Teamsters president – NBC New York

TV and film jobs may never fully recover post-pandemic, strikes, says Teamsters president – NBC New York
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Jobseekers interested in breaking into the film and television industry may have a harder time this year and even in the coming years.

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That’s according to Tommy O’Donnell, president of the Theatrical Teamsters Local 817, a union of casting and location executives as well as TV and film drivers throughout the Northeast, and other panelists at the MediaMKRS summit on April 12 sponsored by Paramount Global. The summit covered the media’s job landscape at large and how educators can create pathways for young people in it.

MediaMKRS is a workforce development program aimed at diversifying media. It’s part of Reel Works, an organization that offers an assortment of educational and training programs in the field for underserved youth.

“You’ll hear the word ‘contraction’ a lot” during the summit, said O’Donnell, who joined John Gibson of the Motion Picture Association, Kwame Amoaku of the New York mayor’s office of media and entertainment, David Haddad of Haddad’s Inc. and Irene Phan of studio lot company the MBS Group on the panel.

There has been an unprecedented amount of content in the last decade and leading up to the pandemic, the panelists agreed, but “going forward, there will be less new content,” O’Donnell said. That will likely mean fewer jobs.

That’s both true for the short and for the long-term, he later told CNBC Make It.

With both the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists on strike in 2023, much of production came to a halt. Between May 2023 and October 2023, there was a 17% drop in the number of people employed in entertainment in the Greater Los Angeles area, according to a December 2023 report by Otis College of Art and Design.

And hiring has not fully rebounded. In the first quarter of 2024, television production was down 16.2% percent year-over-year in the Los Angeles area, according to nonprofit and official film office of the City and County of Los Angeles, FilmLA.

This year, two more unions are negotiating their deals opposite studios and streamers: the Teamsters and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which represents behind-the-scenes film crews including electrical lighting technicians and crafts services.

“I do feel that there is going to be a slowdown [in employment] in the next six months” because of negotiations, O’Donnell said. He has already seen that play out locally, with no “stage bookings beyond July 31 of this year” in New York, he says, referring to soundstages where film and television gets shot, for example.

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U.S. film studios will see a 14% year-over-year decline in content investment in 2024 as a result of the 2023 strikes and the changing film market post pandemic, according to analytics company Ampere Analysis. Ampere also found that the number of scripted TV releases in the US fell from 633 in 2022 and 2021 to 481 in 2023.

“I do think they’ll be producing a lot more in the fall and in 2025,” says O’Donnell of studios and streamers’ forthcoming projects, but down the line, “I think there will be slightly less jobs.”

In part, that could be because of the changing nature of the industry. “I think you’re going to see more limited series or episodic television series with less episodes,” as opposed to the traditional 22-episode sitcom season, he says.

The average number of episodes per season for scripted shows in 2023 was 10.2 for network television shows and 9.6 for shows on streaming, according to data analytics company Parrot Analytics. Many studios are also increasing production abroad as opposed to the U.S., according to Ampere Analysis.

Young people keen to join the industry shouldn’t despair, though. In the last year, “we’ve lost some people” in the industry, says O’Donnell. “So we’re going to need to replace those people.”

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.

Plus, sign up for CNBC Make It’s newsletter to get tips and tricks for success at work, with money and in life. 

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