Please no more events where film critics in permanent posts with healthy salaries mention pitiful freelance pay rates but don't then produce their considered five-point action plan for that exact thing.— Tim Hayes (@pistolerosa) August 5, 2019
Everyone writing regularly for free on advertising-supported platforms published by other people stops doing so, immediately. No one is “paid in exposure” as of right now. 1
The freelance sector discusses candidly how lower barriers to entry and a widening workforce will encourage wage-freeze and a collapse of career ladders, and would do this in any trade under the sun.
The freelance sector separates itself from colleagues in full-time salaried film-sector exhibition, marketing and academic posts who interpret their roles as including the writing of occasional film criticism. Well-paid fellow travellers recuse themselves from the poverty-stricken freelance space while we sort things out.
The freelance sector recognises that a paid trade requires a working benign meritocracy, whereby good writers get better and poor writers get better or stop.
The freelance sector reorganises so that collective action is not unthinkable.
In short: Close the taps a little and talk to each other a lot, either of which would count as doing something rather than doing nothing.
What to do with unpaid self-publishing will have to be discussed too. Blogging for free is spun as the way for writers to continue to operate in the absence of income; but it’s just as true that adding to the world’s infinite ocean of unread film criticism is part of the problem rather than the solution. Some data from those critics who operate Patreons and paywalls on their own blogs would be useful, and no doubt depressing enough to make us wish we hadn’t asked. Behind all this is the current break with (or at least loss of faith in) the written word as being the most vital means of transmission, a problem thrown in writers’ laps thanks to the nature of a digital networked remix culture, but a problem we have met by putting our collective fingers in our ears. Creators of audio-visual essays have seized their moment to claim the territory—dubiously in some cases—while TikTok makes the average video essay seem as with-it as the hula hoop. But the fact that no energetic or eloquent fanzine culture has jump-started in response from practitioners of text is revealing enough.↩︎