Introducing the Pay Transparency Project

Kitty Hu • November 1, 2022

Pay Transparency Project: Real Pay for Real Stories

Time and again we hear filmmakers talk about being overworked, underpaid, and credited inaccurately for their work. As an organization accountable to storytellers of color, we’ve repeatedly found the need to create our own jobs pipelines and tip lines to establish safe and just spaces for our communities to tell their own stories.

We’re at a pivotal moment in time. From #MeToo to the racial uprisings of 2020, we know that marginalized communities are disproportionately impacted by inequitable workplace practices and that countering existing systems is not enough; we must reimagine what is possible and right. Our industries are being called upon to re-examine who is in front of the camera and behind the scenes. This reckoning demands intentionality, compassion, and the utmost care in how we tell stories, who is shaping these narratives, and how filmmakers can create sustainable and long term careers. For an industry that depends heavily on freelance labor, the bottom line is equitable pay, fair credit, and expanded access. From companies to crews, when employers pay fair wages, provide safe work environments, and acknowledge the talent and efforts of the filmmakers they employ, the filmmakers and stories are seen, heard, and valued more.

And so the Pay Transparency Project (PTP) was born.

In 2019, a group of video journalist-members of the Video Consortium were frustrated with the industry’s lack of transparency around pay standards. Looking at the many secret pay rate spreadsheets floating amongst professional peers, they huddled together and dreamt of a tool, a central place, where everyone could come to give and get information that could better serve nonfiction video professionals working to earn a sustainable living, doing what they love. BGDM joined as an implementation partner in the spring of 2022, recognizing that our community members are often the most impacted.

PTP is a tool intended to benefit all professional nonfiction video storytellers, from early-career individuals to industry veterans who may be transitioning from full-time employment to freelance work. Staff department heads and hiring executives looking to formalize and strengthen standards across the field are also encouraged to contribute and use PTP, to promote a more equitable and sustainable industry for all. This grassroots initiative grew out of an urgent desire by our collective communities to move the documentary and nonfiction video fields towards greater equity, justice, inclusion, and honesty.

We’re collecting data (anonymously) across the non-fiction storytelling space to reveal the true experiences of workers within our industry. This data will serve as a resource for filmmakers to better advocate for themselves when taking on new roles and as a tool for structural industry shifts and recommendations.

To submit a rate or few, go to the Pay Transparency Project website. Join us and help build a more transparent future!



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Kitty Hu
Kitty Hu

Kitty Hu (any pronouns) is a queer Chinese diasporic documentary filmmaker and visual journalist with roots in the Bay Area, California. As the daughter of immigrants, Kitty’s work applies community-centered documentary tactics to amplify stories at the intersection of justice and human relationships, looking at topics like labor, housing, culture, migration, and climate.