Tough Times in Tinsel Town

Stephen Yagielowicz

LOS ANGELES — Once seen as a golden land of opportunity, Hollywood’s stars are not twinkling as brightly as they once did.

A lot has been made of declines in new content production throughout Porn Valley, with some pointing to it as evidence of the downfall of porn. Others cite the decline in production and resulting loss of jobs and diminished tax revenue as reason for opposing mandatory condom legislation; while proponents of the same legislation respond by claiming these lost job positions could be absorbed by mainstream Hollywood studio and production houses.

This is not just a matter of talent, but of the camera crews and production assistants, makeup artists and editors, and a wide range of other motion picture service providers who are facing economic uncertainty — with troubling new reports underscoring how precarious the situation is, and how the woes that face the adult entertainment industry are not occurring in a vacuum, with content piracy a major problem for adult and mainstream producers alike.

Consider recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing steady job loss in the motion picture and recording industries, with employment opportunities in these fields down to 298,000 job positions — the first time in 10 years this number dropped below 300,000. This is an eight percent fall off over the past year and a 19 percent reduction since 2012. According to the Bureau, the average hourly earnings of these employees ranged from $23.71 for non-supervisory positions to $29.20 when all employees are counted in the mix.

According to Variety film reporter Dave McNary, Hollywood’s movie industry is plagued by a sharp decline in domestic box office revenues, with summer sales delivering their poorest total in eight years — while offshore production incentives such as easier film permitting processes and lower taxes, lure producers to international locations.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) notes that the industry paid more than $46 billion in direct wages in 2012 for the core business of producing, marketing, manufacturing, and distributing motion pictures and television shows.

“These are high quality jobs, with an average salary of $86,500, 76 percent higher than the average salary nationwide,” MPAA spokesperson Kate Bedingfield said.

Unfortunately the downward spiral in employment is continuing, with Warner Bros. September 4 announcement of impending layoffs that will affect every level of the studio’s 8,000 employee team, further eroding opportunities for production and support staff.

Altogether, the realities of the Hollywood job market are one more reason to oppose any restrictions on video production and permitting, adult or otherwise, in greater Los Angeles and beyond — and a reason to support anti-piracy initiatives instead, to return Hollywood’s luster.