I’m finally starting to feel the economic crunch — personally. Over the last year, I’ve written about the crashes of ThinkFilm and New Yorker Films, tracked the demise of VHS, the collapse of indie film financing and followed the obsolescence of movie critics. Now, I, too, am seeing my occupation slip away from me with every passing week. Major publications have admitted to me that they “ran out of money”; others don’t have the room or budget for feature stories anymore; and fair compensation has dropped to the insulting “blog rate” — $35 to $50 for what would have been $100 to $200 for an equivalent amount of work a couple years ago. This shit is real.
I have to wonder what folks like Glenn Kenny, Michael Atkinson, Rob Nelson, David Ansen, Dessen Thomson, et. al. do for money nowadays? As a freelancer, I should have the flexibility to survive the downturn picking up other gigs. But the amount of money being paid to writers about film–and I imagine, all the arts–appears to be dwindling, and so are the outlets. Matt Zoller Seitz had adapted to the new digital age with video essays for the web. It’s a savvy move, and perhaps looks towards the future of media consumption, but is there a living wage in it? At least it sets him apart from the rest of us weary, desperate scribblers.