Being Liked’: The Constructed Identiity of Project-Based Workers in the New Zealand Film Industry

Abstract

"The New Zealand screen industry, in line with similar trends in the UK and US, has experienced a proliferation of tertiary trained ‘film school' graduates, and consequently there is an oversupply of aspiring workers. Tertiary providers are creating false expectations in graduates that employment will come following time and money spent on industry-specific training. In three case studies of workers from the New Zealand screen production sector it was found that in order to succeed, and irrespective of technical prowess or training, workers construct identities based on willingness to work in an industry where pay rates are inconsistent, hours are long, transactional contracts are malleable, and 'being liked' and networking are essential to securing ongoing project work. In an industry where graduates are considered 'unskilled', and where 'know who' or social capital is as important to long term success in the industry as 'know how' is, tertiary courses focus on teaching ‘human capital', or the skills required to perform set labour tasks on a film set. ‘Social capital' is not taught but is nevertheless crucial to maintaining work in the sector. Analysis of case study participants' responses indicates that successful workers are conditioned to accept an under-regulated workplace where the rights of workers are jeopardised. In order to stay connected to the industry film workers do not speak out about such issues, as doing so is counter-productive to 'being liked', and ultimately gaining further project-based work."



Author Information
Lewis Tennant, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand

Paper Information
Conference: MediAsia2013
Stream: Media Studies

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Posted by amp21