Shannon Walsh’s Documentary ‘The Gig Is Up’ Reveals Harsh Reality of Gig Economy
Over the years of her directing career, Shannon Walsh has brought forward issues of human society that are often ignored or not even recognized in the first place.
An Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia, Walsh researches topics and brings light to the issue through cinematic media, journals, and even books. She embarked on her directing journey through her feature documentary H2Oil in 2009.
In her illustrious career, Walsh has shed light on the impact of oil extraction in the environment (H2Oil), the daily joy and struggles of people living in Johannesburg, South Africa (Jeppe On A Friday), and real-life stories of women who confronted severe crises in irrevocably shaped-landscapes (Illusions of Control).
In 2021, the Canadian director pulled back the curtain on the harsh reality of the gig economy — a labor market characterized by last-minute scheduling jobs — through her feature documentary, The Gig Is Up.
About 'The Gig Is Up'
Without question, the 21st-century working environment has transformed from what it used to be a century ago.
In modern automation, technological giants like Deliveroo, Amazon, Uber are making life easier for consumers. Be it a taxi service, food delivery, or order distribution, anything can be right in front of you with one click on the screen.
While people are mesmerized by the magic-like automation system, the gig workers, often called ghost workers, who make the delivery possible in the nick of time, remain unnoticed.
Walsh’s The Gig Is Up focuses on the lives of the gig workers and sheds light on the challenges and hardships in the gig economy. It shows how the workers have to deal with dynamic pay and fear of being fired over bad ratings.
But despite its downside, workers worldwide are lured in to do the jobs because of its disguise of flexible work hours, control over time, money, and independence.
Only after joining do they realize that the hard work that goes into making the magic happen for others is far from promising and safe.
Core Message Of The Film
Walsh shared about the zest and the message of The Gig Is Up in an interview with Variety in August 2021.
Stating she was always interested in capitalism and the evolution of technology, the London native pointed out how the technological company disguises dystopias with utopianism.
The 45-year-old also shared her vision, mentioning she hoped people would have a sense of connection to the economy and the reality after watching the film.
To provide genuine reports and stories that resonated worldwide, the filmmaker shot the documentary on four continents — Asia, Europe, Africa, and America — and featured interviews, phone-video snippets, and filmed portraits of dozens of real-life gig workers.
The filming was done from August 2019 to December 2019, while the shoots were edited in March 2020, amid the pandemic. The feature premiered at Edinburgh International Film Festival on August 20, 2021.