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Voices of Labor

Creativity, Craft, and Conflict in Global Hollywood

Michael Curtin (Editor), Kevin Sanson (Editor)


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Motion pictures are made, not mass produced, requiring a remarkable collection of skills, self-discipline, and sociality—all of which are sources of enormous pride among Hollywood’s craft and creative workers. The interviews collected here showcase the ingenuity, enthusiasm, and aesthetic pleasures that attract people to careers in the film and television industries. They also reflect critically on changes in the workplace brought about by corporate conglomeration and globalization. Rather than offer publicity-friendly anecdotes by marquee celebrities, Voices of Labor presents off-screen observations about the everyday realities of Global Hollywood. Ranging across job categories—from showrunner to make-up artist to location manager—this collection features voices of labor from Los Angeles, Atlanta, Prague, and Vancouver. Together they show how seemingly abstract concepts like conglomeration, financialization, and globalization are crucial tools for understanding contemporary Hollywood and for reflecting more generally on changes and challenges in the screen media workplace and our culture at large. Despite such formidable concerns, what nevertheless shines through is a commitment to craftwork and collaboration that provides the means to imagine and instigate future alternatives for screen media labor.

1. Listening to Labor
by Michael Curtin and Kevin Sanson

Company Town

2. Editors’ Introduction
3. Mara Brock Akil, showrunner
4. Tom Schulman, screenwriter
5. Allison Anders, director
6. Lauren Polizzi, art director
7. Mary Jane Fort, costume designer
8. Anonymous, makeup artist
9. Stephen Lighthill, cinematographer
10. Calvin Starnes, grip
11. Steve Nelson, sound recordist
12. Rob Matsuda, musician

Global Machine

13. Editors’ Introduction
14. Anonymous, studio production executive
15. David Minkowski, service producer
16. Adam Goodman, service producer
17. Stephen Burt, production manager
18. Belle Doyle, location manager
19. Wesley Hagan, location manager

Fringe City

20. Editors’ Introduction
21. Scott Ross, VFX manager
22. Dave Rand, VFX artist
23. Mariana Acuña-Acosta, VFX artist
24. Daniel Lay, VFX artist
25. Steve Kaplan, union official
26. Dusty Kelly, union official

Appendix: Interview Schedule
Michael Curtin is Duncan and Suzanne Mellichamp Professor of Film and Media Studies and director of the Global Dynamics Initiative at University of California, Santa Barbara.

Kevin Sanson is a lecturer in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology and managing editor of Media Industries.
“This remarkable collection of interviews with screen industry professionals—from costume designers to location managers—is essential reading for anyone interested in how Hollywood actually works. Voices of Labor is a unique account of the contemporary conditions, experiences, and organization of media workers and is an important contribution to media industry research.”—Ramon Lobato, author of Shadow Economies of Cinema

"By listening carefully to their interlocutors, Michael Curtin and Kevin Sanson craft a powerful elegy for organized labor, demonstrating how critical theory is sung to the everyday rhythms of the workplace."—Vicki Mayer, author of Almost Hollywood, Nearly New Orleans: The Lure of the Local Film Economy

"Curtin and Sanson have assembled a star-studded cast of entertainment industry professionals with diverse talents, backgrounds, and perspectives. They tell a varied but consistent tale of the importance of organized labor and the challenges it faces when pitted against the forces of media consolidation and globalization, all set in that magical company town known as Hollywood."—Patric M. Verrone, writer and producer, former president, Writers Guild of America, West

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