As if ripped from the headlines, The Gig Is Up unapologetically explores and exposes the “gig economy” – a way in which to make money by performing request-based jobs. From every corner of the globe, gig workers, and the companies that “employ” them, have transformed the very essence of convenience into a frighteningly exploitative practice.
There are a couple of things that this documentary does right. First, and most importantly, Director Shannon Walsh makes you relate to each and every individual story. Whether it be from the stories of rideshare drivers in the U.S. or food delivery bikers in France and China, Walsh makes sure you are able to emotionally identify with each story teller. Even the more…”out there” stories (I’m looking at you Florida man) emotionally resonate because Walsh forces you to understand why the person does what they do. Everyone has a reason.
They do this by structuring each story with a sort of isolated beginning, middle, and “end”. The beginnings normally establish the specific gig in question and then introduce an individual who is involved in it. The middles are where most of the meat of each gig are explored. Prominent researchers in the field are brought in to delve into how we got to where we are with these conveniences and what it means for the workers who make those conveniences a reality. This is paired well with the climaxes of the individual stories that are tangentially being told. The “ends” of each story aren’t really ends but explorations of where each individual is heading next and what they are doing to “fight back” against the seemingly illegal treatment that the corporations who benefit from their work, get away with. It’s not so much an end, but a new beginning.
In retrospect, describing what works for this doc really boils down to just good film making. Walsh and team knew what story they wanted to tell and told it. Much like any good documentary, they were able to open my eyes to the gross underbelly of the gig economy that I just normally wouldn’t have thought about. And it’s a shame. It’s a shame that it takes a documentary film team to really open our eyes to the exploitative nature of our current “conveniences”. There are humans behind everything whether we see it or not, and Walsh and team did a good job making them seen.
Doc Edge Festival 2021 will screen the NZ premiere of The Gig Is Up. Tickets and more information can be found HERE
Doc Edge Festival 2021 Review – The Gig Is Up
Reviewed online (screener provided by publicist), June 27, 2021. Rating: TBD. Running time: 89 minutes.
PRODUCTION: A Dogwoof release of a Les Films du Balibari, Intuitive Pictures, and Les Films du Point du Jour production. Producers: Ina Fichman and Luc Martin-Gousset
CREW: Director: Shannon Walsh. Editor: Sophie Farkas-Bolla. Director of Photography: Étienne Roussy. Writers: Shannon Walsh, Harold Crooks and Julien Goetz. Music: David Chalmin