As part of his union’s effort to reform working conditions on film sets, Ben Gottlieb, 27, posted an Instagram post last month advocating for a 12- to 14-hour shift ban.
The Brooklynite, like many of his co-workers, was worn out after working long hours without any respite for most of the past year. Sometimes, he was so exhausted driving home that he felt drunk. Only two years after joining IATSE Local 52, he contemplated resigning.
The post was a hit, with over 21,000 likes. It didn’t take long for Gottlieb to be overwhelmed with letters from industry colleagues sharing their own tales, prompting him to develop a dedicated IATSE A total of over 17,000 followers have been attracted to the page in only a few weeks as a
After how much time do, we give them a break? When do we regard it as a genuine job? That’s what Gottlieb in my opinion, there is a breaking point for many people.
Many in the industry have welcomed Hollywood’s return to production after pandemic-induced shutdown resulted in thousands of job losses. To make up for missed time, as well as the increasing demand for material from new streaming platforms, crews are feeling the strain of working longer hours.
According to Gottlieb and other union leaders, employees below the line are working longer hours as a result of COVID-19 breakouts.
Teamsters Local 399 represents transportation coordinators, location managers, casting directors, animal handlers, and drivers. “There used to be seasons, so people who worked in TV could take a break, but now, because of streaming, you don’t have that anymore,” said Steve Dayan, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 399.
“People are starting to understand that working yourself to the bone isn’t a sustainable way of living because of COVID-19,” Dayan added, noting that drivers who transport cast to and from sets work 16-hour hours. “Our personnel are well aware that the studios are stretching the boundaries of health and safety by working long hours.”
The campaign to raise awareness about set conditions comes amid heated contract talks between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which represents film and television crews in the entertainment sector.