There aren’t many films being shot each year. Of those that are shot, the same small group of veteran DPs are working a sizable chunk of them.
The rest of the DPs are all jockeying for the same small group of jobs. You have to prove yourself—big time—to stand out from the crowd. If you’re not the next big thing then you’re probably the next big bust.
Commercials, television, and independent films are where most DPs spend their time. Indie films don’t have much of a payday but can help build a reel. Television is a little better. Commercials are really where you want to be if you’re not doing larger budget films as the work is consistent, respected, and pays well. And you might even get to meet the Aflac duck.