Business: Meet Anna, a Freelance Film Production Manager in SF, CA
Interviewer: Lillian Huang; June 8, 2020
Interviewee: Anna Robertson
Anna Robertson is a video producer and freelance production coordinator (Anna Robertson).
Could you tell us about yourself and your occupation? How does your occupation impact the local community?
I am a self-employed video Producer and freelance Production Coordinator/Assistant in the film, TV, and commercial industry. Film productions provide significant economic boosts to locations that they film in, both by hiring local crew and talent and by spending at local restaurants, hotels, etc.
How has COVID-19 affected the functioning of your organization/occupation? What worries you most regarding the effect COVID-19 has/will have on your occupation?
COVID-19 has had an massive impact on my industry, with most productions halted completely—film sets naturally involve a lot of people together in one location, working long hours, touching the same equipment, and eating from the same lunch buffet—all factors that make it high-risk to do this type of work during a pandemic. I am hopeful that projects that have been delayed will proceed once it is safe to do so—however, I am concerned that the overall economic downturn will result in lower project budgets or even fully cancelled projects.
"...most productions halted completely—film sets naturally involve a lot of people together in one location, working long hours, touching the same equipment, and eating from the same lunch buffet..."
If you are willing to share, how has COVID-19 affected you individually and your family?
I was without work from early March to the end of May. My partner is also unemployed right now, so it has been a difficult time for our household. However, I’m lucky enough to have a strong support system of family and friends, and have been taking the time off to catch up on reading, creative writing, and house projects.
What is the greatest lesson we can learn from this outbreak?
The most significant lesson that I’ve learned is that the only thing I can control in the face of global issues like this pandemic is my own reaction. It’s difficult to feel so helpless, but I’ve learned some coping skills that I’m sure will serve me well when challenges arise in the future. As a society, I hope we can work together to improve the systems that proved to be inadequate for many individuals during this time.
"As a society, I hope we can work together to improve the systems that proved to be inadequate for many individuals during this time."
How has being freelance affected you in this time?
Being a freelancer has made getting unemployment benefits extremely challenging. Since AB-5 passed last year, I have had a few clients who have switched me to payroll, but I still primarily work as an independent contractor. Because I do receive some W2 income, I am not eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance intended for independent contractors, but because the bulk of my income is as an independent contractor, my Unemployment Insurance awarded based on W2 earnings was very small.
"Being a freelancer has made getting unemployment benefits extremely challenging."
Was it possible to do production management remotely?
I was not able to do any remote work under the Shelter in Place order, as the bulk of my job is organizing day-of production matters and it was unclear when we’d be able to work again. However, since dates have been set for our industry to begin some work again, I am able to work remotely doing pre-production for future shoots.