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Covid-19 Production Guidance

The British Film Commission-led initiative to devise guidance for how to restart film, games and high-end television production has seen fantastic contributions from across the industry. Our very own Sara Putt (Chair of the BAFTA’s Learning New Talent Committee, Deputy Chair of the Television Committee and esteemed agent) has been involved in the process and gives her insider’s overview to help you navigate the emerging landscape. 

The guidance

[Links to the relevant guidance will be added as and when they are published]

Notes on the guidance (by Sara Putt)

For the past few weeks I have been feeding into the British Film Commission (BFC)’s Inward Investment Recovery working group, one of the five working groups set up by and feeding into the BFI-led COVID-19 Screen Sector Task Force to help the industry back to work. It has been a mammoth task and many people have contributed to what will be a very comprehensive document. Thank you to all of the members and our industry contacts who volunteered to give feedback. It was so useful to have so many different points of view. 

From being closely involved in the project, here are the key points which I’ve learned: 

  • There are 5 BFI-led working groups creating different main sets of guidance (see above)
    • Film and high-end TV drama (led by the BFC)
    • Domestic broadcasters (the UK Broadcasters’ Television Production Guidelines run by the UK’s leading broadcasters and Pact was published last week)
    • Independent film
    • Exhibition and distribution
    • Games​
  • Other sets of guidance will be released which will work alongside the above (including guidelines from the UK Screen Alliance focusing on VFX and Post Production), and independent companies may well also have their own.
  • Each of the remaining sets of guidance from this BFI led project will be released in the next couple of weeks. 
  • These are live documents and may be updated as and when government advice changes
  • The guidance is advisory, not mandatory, and each production will be able to use the guidance to determine their own way of working- so it will be up to each production company to decide which parts of the guidance best apply to their productions. 
  • Screenskills will be rolling out free online training on health and safety and the other aspects of the new working procedures and we are looking at ways we can support their training through our programme.

At BAFTA’s Learning and New Talent Committee we have been discussing how we can help our members and industry network to make sense of these sets of guidance and support them back to work.  

For those in production, these sets of guidance will be a fantastic resource for helping you return to work safely. There may also be guidance from facilities or other providers (e.g. a studio) which you will need to familiarise yourself with.  

Our advice to freelancers working in different departments would be to follow the guidance from the production or project you're part of. It would be worth looking at the specific advice for your department and ensuring you have access to some of the equipment and know how to use it - the Screenskills training should help with this.  

Other Considerations

Several of our partners who have expressed concern about the risk that issues such as diversity, mental health, workplace culture may take a back seat in the rush to return to work. We share that concern, but equally, this is an opportunity to ensure that better working practices are embedded into this new way of working. We are all re-writing the rule book for how we work out of necessity - so this could also be a chance to bring in some of the other changes we’ve been talking about for a long time.  

Here are some of the ways we encourage everyone to think about when working with the guidance:

  • The Film and TV Charity has many fantastic resources on offer including their helpline and newly launched Big White Wall. For those in games, UKIE has a number of initiatives including their #LevelUpMentalHealth initiative. We urge those of you in leadership positions to share these resources with all crew (for example via call sheets or on Slack channels) and where you can encourage a dialogue with your teams. We encourage everyone to make the space that they need to prioritise their mental well-being and if you can, speak to your Head of Department, team leader, manager etc about your needs.
  • You will need to limit the number of people on set or in the workplace. In order that more junior or trainee positions don’t get lost, we encourage you to think creatively about how people can be redeployed - for example can your trainee continue to provide a vital coordination role or key back-up off set or out of the studio?
  • Everyone will have their own level of risk and comfort with this return to work and your instinct will of course be to protect those who you might perceive to be more vulnerable. However, try not to make assumptions about others' risk, and have an open dialogue with everyone in your team about what they are comfortable with.