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Ben Yennie: What Makes for Economic Success in the Film Industry?

Part 7 of this report is perhaps both the most interesting and the shortest.  It takes the biggest factors for success we’ve examined in the previous 6 parts and puts them head to head to see what makes the biggest difference in the life of the average filmmakers.

Throughout analysis of our survey, we found that the 4 biggest contributing factors to finding success in the film industry were as follows.

  • Being Male
  • Identifying as a Producer
  • Graduating from film school
  • Investing more than 25,000 USD in equipment.

All of our findings are corollary more than causal, and some of them ended with a rather small sample size, particularly women who invested more than 25,000 in equipment.  As such our findings are preliminary, but interesting nevertheless.  Let’s look at the data.

The web version of this section starts with a much more in depth analysis of the benefits and drawbacks of identifying as a producer.  In the book version, much of this information is in section 2.

Slide 3 examines the amount of time producers vs non-Producers spend on paid work, and shows that producers are much more likely to spend time on paid work than Non-Producers.  Slides 4 and 5 back this up and shows that the correlation remains no matter what age the respondent is.

The book version contains a few additional slides showing this data in different ways.

Slides 7 and 8 Examines the financial effects of identifying as a producer along gender lines.   Identifying as a producer seems to have a more pronounced effect on women than men, however the correlation is pronounced for both genders we had a large enough sample to study.

Slide 10 puts all of the metrics that correlated to success in line against an average.  The results are interesting, and tend to state that equipment investment and identifying as a producer seem to have the biggest impact.   Investing in equipment has the strongest correlation on a high filmmaking income, and ties with producing for household income.

Further, investing in equipment correlates to more time spent on set, and a higher percentage on income coming from filmmaking.  Graduating Film School does put you above the average on all of these metrics, but sometimes only just.

Slide 11 does the same analysis as slide 10, but segments for gender.  Unsurprisingly, being male still has a marked effect on all levels of this analysis.  Investing in equipment almost stabilizes the gender gap for female filmmakers, and it’s the only thing that comes close for that metric.  However, the sample size of the women owning equipment segment was exceedingly small.

For men, owning equipment made the biggest difference in all measured factors, with it making a sizable difference in the time spent on set and percentage of filmmaking income.  This remains true for women, however graduating from film school appears to play a comparable bigger role on filmmaking income than it does for men.  There’s more study to do here, but it would require a larger sample size and bigger budget.

So I’d like to thank you all again for reading.  If you’ve enjoyed this series, please consider buying the full report in paperback.  It has much more information, than the web report, and for every copy bought, we’ll donate one to a relevant non-profit organization.  

Check it out on Amazon here.

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