Far-Flung Thoughts

Apr 18, 2007

I just returned from a week in New Orleans, where I was reporting on the robust and growing film industry there. As the digital revolution provides new ways of producing and distributing films, "indie" increasingly defines the industry. What keeps casts and crews protected through the rollercoaster ride of irregular, unpredictable, fly-by-night projects? Unions. Even in Louisiana, nominally a right-to-work state, unions set good wages and benefits and help allocate jobs, offering real opportunities to electricians and cinematographers alike. The IATSE gives a hint of how to organize otherwise "freelance" workers. Speaking of traveling, there was a great article about commuting by Nick Paumgarten in the New Yorker last week. Really, it was about the tradeoffs we make between work and life and how it's hard to predict what will really bring us lasting happiness. Paumgarten follows several miserable commuters who will remind you why you quit your day job. According to one economic study he cites, if your commute is an hour each way, you'd have to earn 40 percent more to be as satisfied as someone who doesn't commute at all. As a longtime worker-from-home, I feel like I just got a huge raise.