Of course, when one refers to “the Detroit film industry,” one isn’t describing mainstream feature films. Most American studio movies were shot in Los Angeles, or funded by American dollars and shot overseas for tax reasons. It seemed rare that a Malibu mogul would bolt upright and think of Detroit as a filming location. As such, Sam Raimi — as a lad interested in movies — went into the not-so-glamorous world of car advertising. Raimi recalled his early jobs as a teen, writing:
“The only professional Detroit film industry jobs were making commercials so Bruce Campbell and myself would get part time jobs after school working at low budget commercial production companies. We’d sweep the studio floors, get the clients coffee, set up snacks, hit the slate and generally help out. Because Detroit is an automobile town most of the commercials were selling cars so we’d learn from the grips how to use spray on the hubcaps, how to professionally light an automobile, how to use silks …”
Many in the industry can likely tell similar stories to Raimi’s, as many of the entry points to filmmaking are at the bottom. Many future cinema luminaries or office workers who make a living behind the scenes started in mail rooms, next to filing cabinets, or fetching 30-year-old key art out of a creepy vault located in the studio’s underground parking structure. That last one is a personal experience of this author who spent two years interning for Roger Corman in the early 2000s.
One does learn a lot from these menial jobs, although the skills may not always be useful to rise in the ranks. Additionally, low-paying, entry-level studio gigs are the opposite of glamorous. Sometimes a low-paying job is just a low-paying job.