How much everyone gets paid on a movie set

Publish Date
Wednesday, 4 October 2017, 3:47PM

We all know movie stars usually make big bucks appearing on the big screen.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, an A-lister can earn between $20-25 million AUD for a major role in a big-budget blockbuster, while secondary roles can be worth a still-impressive $2-6 million.

Then - as reported earlier this year - there are emerging stars like Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman or Henry Cavill in Man of Steel who might earn anywhere between $200,000 to 400,000.

But there are hundreds of people running around movie sets - from producers to sound technicians to wardrobe assistants - and most of their salaries are a little less lucrative.

Here's how much everyone makes on a Hollywood movie set, as averaged by Payscale:


In accordance with the latest Writers Guild agreement, screenwriters are paid at least $92,000 for an original script and $82,000 for an adaptation.

Marilyn Monroe and screenwriter Arthur Miller on set of the film 'The Misfits', 1961. Photo / Getty

But if you're Aaron Sorkin, it's a very different story: the screenwriting legend demands between $3,800,000 and $6,400,000 per script, according to THR.


A camera operator working on a big movie can expect to take home about $196,000, but the median annual salary for the job is much lower: $63,000.

A camera operator on the set of a Bollywood film being shot at Film City January 1997 in Mumbai, India. Photo / Getty


Like most 'talent'-based roles, there's a big divide between the highest and lowest earners in the movie make-up industry.

British actress Audrey Hepburn checks her hair in a make-up artist's mirror prior to a take on the set of Two for The Road in St Tropez. Photo / Getty

The best in the biz make at least $158,000 working on a major movie - although they're often able to negotiate a higher fee.

On average, most make-up artists make about $60 an hour, while those working on a small-budget production get only $29 per hour.


Boom operators - otherwise known as the guys who hold microphones above actors' heads - can make up to $154,000 a year, while working on smaller movies can earn them approximately $47,000.

Sound operator Daniele Ajoret during the shooting of a scene of The School of the Fathers. Photo / Getty


There's a lot of money to be made from being a producer - Beauty and the Beast's David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman got an upfront fee of $2.5 million, plus a cut from the profits (THR estimates it could have been up to $26 million).

Actor, producer, writer and director Orson Welles poses with actress and wife Rita Hayworth on the set of the Columbia Pictures film 'The Lady from Shanghai' in 1947. Photo / Getty

While that's at the very high end of producer salaries, the lower end of the scale isn't too shabby either: first time producers on a studio project can take home about $320,000.


First things first: what the hell is a Key Grip?

If you're like me, you've stared at that title in the credits of every movie and wondered whether it was someone tasked with holding onto stuff.

Unsurprisingly - that's not what they do.

American film director Spike Lee (left), along several crewmembers and grips on the set of his film School Daze,1988. Photo / Getty

The job of a grip is to build and oversee all the equipment needed for the cameras and lighting teams on the movie. That includes everything from tripods to cranes.

The key grip - i.e. the head of the grips - earns on average $167,000 for a big-budget movie - while the average wage for the job is $75,000.

Key grips getting their start in low-budget movies can expect to bring in $32.50 an hour, or $52,000 a year.