Film and Television Workers Are Using Instagram to Push for Better Working Conditions

It's part of a broader conversation in the industry

Film shoot
Workers on a film shoot.
Jakob Owens/Unsplash

The last year has seen a significant push by workers to improve the conditions under which they do their jobs. This spans for everything from people pushing for more remote work flexibility to the ongoing effort to get Amazon warehouse workers unionized. So it’s not all that surprising that there’s also been a call for reform in the film and television industry, where long days of shooting are the norm and cases of burnout are frequent.

Earlier this month, a report from Jacobin explored the latest push for better working conditions. What prompted this? The downtime in film and television production due to the pandemic reminded many of the need for some work-life balance, and the article credits a return to work as a jarring experience for many.

In some cases, workers have used social media to chronicle toxic work situations and make their calls for reform more specific. Writing at the Los Angeles Times, Anousha Sakoui explored the rise of the Instagram account IATSE Stories, which has emerged as a place where film industry professionals can document terrible workplace experiences — and in some cases show what a better industry might look like.

The account was started by lighting technician Ben Gottlieb last month. In the time since then, it’s gotten nearly 19,000 followers — and has helped raise awareness of a growing movement for better working conditions. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees is currently negotiating a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, hoping to create a better working experience for their members — including allowing crews more time to rest between shoots.

This isn’t a new argument, but it’s one that comes at a time when its message will resonate more broadly. And if it leads to better working conditions within an industry, it’s coming at a necessary time.

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