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Coping with Job Uncertainty and Seasonal Work in the Entertainment Industry

Personal Finance Tips for Film and Motion Picture Workers

Working in Canada's film and entertainment industry can be a wild ride. There are high-paying projects, fun and creative work, and the satisfaction of producing something that you can be proud of. However, it's not all rainbows and sunshine. The industry is known for its job uncertainty and seasonal work.

Many of us in the industry are hired on a project-by-project basis, which can result in periods of high-paying work followed by periods of little or no work at all. This type of irregular income can make it hard to plan and save for the future, leading to financial stress and uncertainty.

It's understandable that many of us in the industry might consider or seek alternate steady work, but it can be hard to leave the sector. The work is addictive and fast-paced, and the creative nature of the industry is hard to resist. But, it's important to remember that the film industry isn't immune to the ups and downs of the economy (and pandemics). When sector or economic downturns occur, the availability of work can take a major hit, leaving us struggling to make ends meet.

To cope with these challenges, it's important to take a proactive approach to your finances. Setting a budget, building an emergency fund, reducing debt, creating multiple streams of income, and planning for retirement have all helped me achieve financial stability. It's also important to seek out opportunities for professional development and training to improve my skills and make myself more valuable in the industry.

Here are some personal finance tips that can help us plan for and cope with the ups and downs of the film industry.

First and foremost, set a budget. It's important to track your income and expenses, especially when the film and entertainment industry is secular. You'll need to account for periods of low income and plan accordingly. There are plenty of free budgeting apps and tools available that make this process easier.

Building an emergency fund can also help ease your financial stress. Aim to save enough to cover three to six months of your living expenses. This can provide a safety net when you experience job loss or unexpected expenses.

Reducing your debt is another key step to achieving financial stability. Pay off high-interest credit card balances and other debts with the highest interest rates first. Consolidating your debt with a low-interest personal loan can also help you save money on interest charges.

Having multiple streams of income can help you stay afloat during periods of low work availability. Consider taking on freelance work, teaching classes, or selling your services online.

Ask for help. The AFC is a great resource for financial aid if you are a worker in the film and entertainment industry. If you are a member of a Union, you could ask the AFC for financial support to pay your dues, for example.

These options can help you earn extra money when you're not working on a film project. And if you can use these side gigs to develop skills and experience in new or alternate areas of expertise that can provide a career alternative for the future, all the better.

It's never too early to plan for retirement, even if you're just starting out in your career. If you don't have access to a traditional employer-sponsored retirement plan, consider opening an RRSP account.

Finally, don't be afraid to seek professional help. A financial advisor can help you create a budget, plan for retirement, and manage your investments. Mental health professionals can also provide support and guidance to help you cope with the stress of job uncertainty and financial instability. Check out the resources listed below on how to find help.

Ultimately, it's up to each of us to decide whether the benefits of working in the film industry outweigh the challenges. But, by taking control of our finances and careers, we can increase our chances of success and weather the highs and lows of this exciting industry. Remember, you're not alone in this journey. We're all in this together, navigating the highs and lows of the film and entertainment industry.


  1. If you are covered by an EAP/MAP through your union benefits plan you are eligible for both Financial Advisory/Coaching Services and counselling or coaching support to help deal with your financial stresses and their impact on your wellbeing.

  2. For BC Union plans visit our Union Benefits page.

  3. Financial Empowerment, Family Services of Greater Vancouver The Financial Empowerment program at FSGV teaches financial literacy and helps people navigate government benefits. We envision a community where people are empowered to make the most of their money.

  4. No cost Financial Coaching: Our free coaching service is available to individuals, couples, and families. Unsure whether you qualify? Give us a call and we’ll figure it out together: 1 800 609 3203

  5. Free Money Skills workshops: visit our website and subscribe to our events calendar to be notified of upcoming workshops

  6. Check out other resources on our Finance resource page here.


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