Major cities come with advantages like more funding for your films and more collaborators, but they also come with hardships like long hours and depression. In addition to being worked like crazy, you may also find yourself working for low pay or no pay at times. Most of the time, putting in the free work is necessary to get the work that will pay.

Long Hours

The film industry uses day rates to calculate pay. The day rate you can charge depends on your experience, the quality of your work, and what kind of job your working on. A typical day rate looks like $200/12 or $350/10. What do these numbers mean? The first number means that you will be paid $200 for a 12-hour day and the second means $350 for a 10-hour day.

Film shoots often have long days and you will most likely be utilized for the maximum hours in your contract. Make sure that there’s overtime pay in your contract if the shoot goes on too long.


Seasonal depression will hit you when you least expect it and it’s much stronger in cities. One way to cope with depression is by getting out of the city and spending time in nature as often as possible. If you live near a park, you should try to take walks often when you aren’t working.

If you struggle a lot with strong feelings of depression, moving to a city may aggravate that depression. In that case, it would be best to find alternatives to moving to a city for film.

Free Work

I was once told that I had to put in the free work. This made little sense to me at the time but I understand now that it’s about networking. Two ways to network are by attending cocktail parties and talking to lots of people or by getting out and doing the work. More often than not, you’ll want to be doing the work so that you can build your reel and you’ll have to do a lot of free work to fill out your reel sufficiently.

However, working for free with talented collaborators is one of the best ways to connect with the vibrant film communities in cities. Join a few online groups and start working with people. You’ll hit a lot of duds. After time, you’ll start to find out who’s gold though.

It just takes a lot of work. Because cities aren’t for the weak.

Happy filming!


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Cover Photo by Jose Lebron on Unsplash

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