Which film jobs have the greatest overlap?

In my previous article, I looked at the number of people who have only worked once in key film jobs and departments across their whole career.

A number of readers got in touch to ask how frequently people work in multiple positions across their career. If it were commonplace for people to work within more than one role then it would make the high “one-and-done” figures we saw last time feel less depressing. (i.e. Over half of all people to get a film credit in key roles never get a second one).

For example, if a successful editor also turns their hand to directing and writing once in their career then they will be adding to the low rates of repeat employment among directors and writers, despite the fact they are actually a successful film worker.

To answer this question, I looked at the movie careers of 507,516 people who had at least one crew credit on a movie released in US cinemas between 2000 and 2019. I then looked at how many people had at least one credit within any two roles (i.e. someone who has both edited and directed a movie over the course of their career). There is more detail on my criteria and methodology at the end of the article.

The roles with the greatest overlap

We’ll start by looking for the greatest overlap between ten key creative roles – director, producer, writer, composer, editor, cinematographer, casting director, production designer, art director and costume director. These are by no means the only jobs which matter, but we need to draw an arbitrary line somewhere.

The greatest overlap is between writers and directors. 5,199 people have directed at least one movie in the dataset, 11,355 have received at least one writing credit and within those two groups, 3,892 have received both a directing and writing credit. This means that 74.9% of directors have received a writing credit and 34.3% of writers have received a directing credit. (If you want to read more on this topic then you may enjoy my article from 2015 looking at writer-directors).

Other roles which have significant overlap were directors and producers (51.2% of directors had produced and 8.3% of producers had directed), writers and producers (35.9% and 12.7%, respectively) and art directors and production designers (28.8% and 40.2%).

You may have spotted how writers, producers and directors have a great deal of overlap. The chart below shows the extent to which people share credits in these roles.

The roles with the lowest overlap

At the other end of spectrum we see jobs which almost never appear together in people’s CVs. Composers were the most siloed, which makes sense give that their work is in post-production and has very few similarities to the other key roles. Only 0.2% of composers had also worked as a costume designer (and vice versa), the same for composing/art direction (0.2% and 0.2%) and composing/casting (0.2% and 0.3%).

Other divergent jobs include cinematographer and costume designer (0.3% and 0.3%), and editor and art director (0.3% and 0.3%).

Notes

Today’s research looks at the movie credits of people who had at least one crew credit in a movie released theatrically in North America between 1st January 2000 and 31st December 2019. Once I had my list of people, I went back and looked at all their movie credits, even those released before 2000, in order to ensure I was assessing their career to date.

Raw credit data came from a number of public sources, including IMDB, Wikipedia and Movie Insider.

This does not take into account work in other mediums, such as TV, music videos, online videos, etc.

This research treats all credits the same as it cannot take account of the length of time worked, seniority, the amount paid, etc. Given the unbalanced nature of the industry, it’s certainly possible to be successful in ways which do not show up in simple credits counts. These include being the writer of unproduced (but optioned) scripts, being hired infrequently but paid handsomely, uncredited work, etc.

Epilogue

I found deeply disappointing that fewer than 1% of cinematographers have also worked as a composer as it would have allowed me to use the headline “He shoots, he scores!”

Poor overlap also prevented the use of the following phases:

  • “Casting both roles and shadows…” Casting directors and cinematographers (0.6% and 0.4%)
  • “Putting the cost into costumes…” Producers and costume designers (0.2% and 1.9%)
  • “Cutting cloth and clips…” Costume designers and editors (0.4% and 0.3%)

I’ll see myself out…