A popular misconception is that all filmmakers are multimillionaires. According to the United States Department Of Labor, the mean annual wage for a full-time filmmaker in 2009 was £56,465. Many independent filmmakers who use their own money to finance projects will see between £0 to £650 in their whole career. On the other end of the pay scale, a select few established filmmakers with reputations for success in film or television can work with major studios to earn millions of dollars.
Those with or without training have the same salary options. Choosing to attend a film school or university that includes a film program can be useful in learning techniques, the craft of filmmaking, and obtaining valuable connections for the future but is not required.
Joining the Directors Guild is an option for filmmakers that have met the standard requirements. The union sets minimum wage amounts that its members are paid. These minimums differ per the type of project a filmmaker is involved in. For example, a theatrical minimum guaranteed for a high-budget ten week or more shoot is £10,519 per week. A prime time one hour series on network television pays £24,774.
Financing on a film is also a salary factor. Low budget independent films might require a filmmaker to actually use some of their own money to make a project happen while receiving no salary. Many big budget projects costing millions of dollars are negotiated to allow a filmmaker to receive parts of or all of their salary from the profits.
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