The death of Bank of America intern Moritz Erhardt last month shone an unfavourable light on the long hours worked in investment banks. The cause of Erhardt’s death remains unclear, but claims that he worked 72 hours straight have fueled speculation that Erhardt effectively died from overwork. If so, it’s a concept that people working in the U.S. film industry can sympathize with.
Like banking, the film industry is a world where the work is relentless. In banking, clients have to be pandered to. In film, movies have to be shot on tight budgets. Like banking, film is a world where young people queue up for jobs in the full knowledge that they’ll be working 80 hour weeks – or more. Worse than banking, the film industry is a place where most people are contractors – they have to work crazy hours because they have no income security.
In the wake of Erhardt’s death, a documentary made in 2006 by American cinematographer Haskell Wexler titled ‘Who needs sleep?’ has been doing the rounds among finance bloggers. It shows that Hollywood is just as guilty as Wall Street of working people to death. Big banks, at least, pay for taxis home when their employees leave after 10pm at night. In the film industry, contractors regularly work a succession of 18 hour days before driving home to their families – a practice which has caused multiple traffic accidents, some fatal.
If you don’t have time to watch Wexler’s full documentary, here are some of the most pertinent quotes. Read them. Feel glad you’re a banker and not a cameraman.