Raising Our Futures
When the current coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis is over, what will the film and TV landscape look like?
We’re all living in extraordinary times, where the intersection of our personal and professional lives has never been more apparent. Extraordinary times, where our caring responsibilities coincide with our working lives and as we recognise more than ever our support systems and the caring professionals who make our lives possible. As we all try to manage this present, we want to consider how the lessons we are all learning might help shape a better future for the industry.
We want to start a conversation about what that better future might look like. Join us?
“A future where writers are valued. Where time, also early development is acknowledged. Where meetings and events take into account caring responsibilities. Where meetings are honoured and not cancelled nilly-willy and last minute with no acknowledgement of the cost that might have for the other party. Where different stories are valued, over Names and Known Quantities. Where women and ‘other’ aren’t seen ask ‘risks’. Where we redefine what the word risk means. Where not telling new stories is a risk we cannot afford to take – where more of the same is the real threat to society. Where telling stories with Value has a value. Where the Next Big Thing isn’t always young and sexy, but also older and more experienced or holding different experiences. Where difference is cherished.” Writer
“The tribal and clique culture that exists in the industry has to change. The use of social media to advertise roles in production heightens this culture when those are tagging their friends and anyone else who isn’t within this circle won’t get a look in to the advertised job. When you the job seeker see this going on it can add anger, frustration and feelings of giving up so this could harm the industry because potential great talents are pushed out.” TV Production Professional/Screenwriter/Film Journalist/Content Creator
“To finally have a proper crew pay structure and T&Cs for low and mid-range budgeted projects. To finally iron out a fair rate structure inc and especially T&Cs that all can agree upon both employer and employee alike. By installing a rate card either tiered in line with a budget range or through another fair system, whilst incorporating T&Cs (for working conditions) for all to adhere to, will by its nature allow for a better working environment – one that can nurture and enhance talent behind the camera.” Line Producer
“A future where the creativity, ideas, work, ethics, methods, as well as the support from Black, Asian and women of all ethnicities is equally valued, appreciated, celebrated and rewarded.” Director, Writer, Producer
“Producers should also be put in a healthier position to make films – an agreed percentage of the budget for their pay and for financiers/ completion bond companies etc to stop with getting producers to defer fees to complete finance plans and so on!” Line Producer
“I implore Future Us to be more inclusive, more international, and more impacting. Our industry has long thrived on a country club style of thinking that is built around exclusivity, and that just isn’t representative of most of the stories we are telling and that need to be told. We have a chance to embrace en masse the beauty of inclusivity as we engage people to champion humanities stories from all walks of life. And to be more impactful. I am excited and encouraged for Future Us by the camaraderie and rallying I have witnessed so far during this time. It is when we must all come together to deliver creative solutions, using our out-of-the-box style that makes us beautiful creators.” Head of Production at HF Productions. Producer at Sybo Games/Sybo TV
“I’d like to see a fairer system that rewards the risk that producers and investors take. Under the previous system, there was little incentive or reward for development financiers or equity funders, as there were a raft of entities in between taking % cuts. Those taking the early risk, were very rarely able to see any reward. Structures that fairly distribute revenues between all parties should be considered. Whilst exhibition and distribution can come with large costs, a more even split that keeps the entire system going is needed. Indie films can’t pay 65%+ rentals as well as 20%+ to sales agents, 30%+ to distributors and cover all the costs and expenses in between.” Producer
“I’d like to see the creation of a streaming service specifically for indie films, that can commission films rather than buy them once completed. A global entity this size could offer overhead deals to production companies, allowing producers to hire a staff and pay themselves a salary. Although this might make scoring a big payday difficult for producers, it would provide them with a secure salary and allow them to keep developing and producing new indie films. Anyone setting this up would need deep pockets and the ability to manage productions in multiple territories but it would be a good contrast to the current crop of streaming services.” Producer
“It would be wonderful to have shorter hours that are more family-friendly. Part of the problem of finding childcare is finding someone who will be there when we are not, which is often 14-16 (or more) hours a day. More flexible arrangements as well would alleviate this problem to benefit both fathers and mothers. Another hope would be a greater provision for childcare at the studios – and eventually on set if on location.” Assistant Location Manager
“No more unpaid prep/wrap time for costume! No more weekend work unless absolutely necessary – and a memo from production as to when we are working weekends. Overtime paid in one hour increments – not half an hour increments.” Costume Supervisor
“I wish for extended and better paid parental pay/leave. Covid-19 lockdown is a LOT like the early days of parenting (especially if you’re breastfeeding). It’s difficult to go anywhere other than a short walk about your neighbourhood (if you can manage that), you can’t see people and do things, your mental health suffers and your time / space has changed. I guess where it differs is that no one puts things online for you to do and no one checks in on you because everyone else isn’t going through the same thing.” Exhibition
“Two things make small-scale, independent exhibition a challenge; minimum guarantees – there is simply no need to charge for DCP replication and delivery when other distributors are now making content available to download as standard. European distributors are terrible culprits for requesting off-putting minimum guarantees, commonly €300-€500 for a single screening. Would happily pay a higher split without guarantee. Unpopular events leave neither party out or pocket, popular events make money for both. Cinemas have an easier time being profitable and are able to develop and take more risks with programming. Screening off-date – I don’t know what difference it makes if we screen twice during an opening weekend or twice six weeks down the line – distributors potentially make less money from us in the latter scenario. Our chances of profit are stifled. If this is simply down to agreements with the big chains that’s not helpful for those of us whose main drivers are interesting programmes rather than concession sales.” Independent cinema manager/programmer for single-screen, 68-seat cinema
“An industry where everyone is treated and represented equally and bullying is stamped out.” Editor
“We have a great chance now for the first time to take a full inventory of who is who. Companies are in a state of flux, and my idea is for a film/TV support organisation to create a database of talent, of folks that are looking for work and that have the desire to make a difference. Not everyone has the same pathway in life, and sometimes a different approach is needed to find and recruit staff, crew, freelancers. Ask me to edit something, ask me to operate something, then evaluate me, but don’t just judge me on a showreel/resume, it’s just not going to work.” TV news video editor, TV studio director, audio desk operator, studio manager
“For actors to be asked for self-tapes (or a Zoom audition!) in the first-instance – this benefits actors who have caring responsibilities, but also keeps costs down for all involved. It’s working ok right now so why not continue it? Then have the recalls in person, if applicable.” Actor
“For women to be able to continue to work in the film and TV industry if they have a family. The challenges many women with families face to make this work are near impossible and they are often forced to choose between their family and career whereas in other employment sectors there is much more flexibility. There’s a reason there are so few female writers and directors and more should be done to accommodate the balance of their working lives.” Screenwriter
“My wish would be a set number of hours in a working week. The current European working directive of 38 hrs is waived in most TV and film contracts and although you are allowed to reject it legally, without losing the job, it is not encouraged or even that well known. People are scared of losing work or rocking the boat. As new working practices emerge post pandemic, it is vitally important that crew, including directors, are not forced to do more hours for the same pay or less under the guise of ‘it won’t get made unless you agree to this’. For many years we have been encouraged to believe this line until it has become standard. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that mental health and safe working conditions are to be valued. Some things should be above putting a price on. It is an investment by us for us. Maybe Raising Films, Bectu Scotland, Directors UK Scotland and the Producers Alliance could combine their rich experience and build a coalition which could help safeguard, encourage and celebrate our skill, and stem, for once and all the gradual eradication of our rights and working practices.” Drama Director
“I’d like to see online provision of my studies as a permanent option. As a disabled student of creative technologies and as a single parent this has been helpful to have as an option. More must be done to accommodate.” Student
Work life/family balance.
Elimination of push/stigma for Producers to be all-singing all-dancing self-shooters/soundies in addition to their normal already taxing job.” TV Documentary Producer (Arts & History)
“I wish for more remote working opportunities to open up work in the regions as well as London. I’m from Liverpool and currently working in research and development from home, interviewing contributors on Zoom, WhatsApp messages, regular video calls and phone calls with my boss, and using Google Docs so they can see me writing live and can give input. It’s working really well. And having meetings with commissioners via Zoom means they don’t have to travel across the country and creates a level playing field for everyone in the industry no matter where they’re based.” Research and Development
Why are we doing this?
At Raising Films, we’ve always been about creating a film and television industry that works with our need for care. Right now, we’re seeing caring, both as paid and unpaid labour, take new and urgent priority on an unprecedented scale. We’re also seeing how precarious freelance and self-employed work is in a new light, and moreover how as freelancers and self-employed people we are connected to many other freelance and self-employed people who depend on our custom.
We know the film and television industries are not working for many of us: they weren’t working before the coronavirus crisis, just like they weren’t working before austerity. It’s clearer now just how much needs to change, and how urgently, for an inclusive, sustainable, functional and humane screen sector for us all. We’re all having to rethink how we work, how we care, and how we see our futures, together.
As we re-adjust, as we see things differently, as we join mutual aid groups locally, support independent businesses where we can, think through our caring responsibilities, reach out and stay home, try to manage our mental health, we are also seeing the way we are connected to each other, and a new way of working and living. We are seeing what’s really important to us, what’s unacceptable in terms of how businesses and industries act towards their workers, and what we all need to survive.
From here, what does a film and television industry that works for us all look like? We’re asking you to imagine this future because it keeps us going – and because when the current crisis is over we need to be prepared not just to return to ‘normal’, or to accept the imposition of worse conditions.
Raising Films remains focused on building a future of fair pay, fair hours and fair practices that the organisation has been working towards for a long time.
We have to be, not just because of the pandemic, but because it has made all the challenges and problems our community shares with all workers all the more apparent.
Raising Films now calls for your voices to contribute to this vital work.
Choose life. Choose art. Choose family. Choose them both. Choose having a rewarding career that isn’t precarious employment. Choose contributing to film culture without having to give up your personal life. Choose local production. Choose environmentally sound practice. Choose innovative distribution that considers access as important as returns. Choose family friendly working hours. Choose safe working environments. Choose gender parity. Choose inclusive approaches that are done by default, not by enforcement. Choose your viewing list rather than have an algorithm choose it for you. Choose being able to pay your childminders and cleaners generously. Choose supporting local businesses. Choose going to the opening night of a new play that you’ve never heard of. Choose reading a book recommended to you by a human being. Choose rewatching telly that makes you happy. Choose planting seeds rather than buying pre- washed. Choose working with people whose values align with yours. Choose being challenged by those whose don’t. Choose a Universal Basic Income. Choose Mutual Aid. Choose fair pay and human rights. Choose life.
Use the form below to send us your ideas on our collective future that you’re happy for us to post online. Send us a statement or bullet points, a poem, a story, a manifesto, or a plea. You can add links to any organisations you’re supporting or who are supporting you.
Submissions are requested from across all departments and across the whole screen industry, from production to broadcast, from development through to distribution and exhibition.
If you’d prefer to send us a video or audio recording, leave a note in the box and we’ll email you with instructions.
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The Looking Glass survey from the Film and TV Charity revealed a mental health crisis in the workforce. Nearly 9 in 10 people working in our industry have experienced a mental health problem. Analysis of the underlying causes reveals three areas that interact to create a perfect storm for poor mental health – the conditions of work, the industry’s culture, and its capability to provide support.
In 2017 BECTU published a report into long hours in film and TV and the impact of a ‘long hours’ culture on productivity. Nearly three-quarters of respondents believed themselves to be in workplaces where “no one wants to be the first to leave” and nearly 80% of respondents said that there have been mistakes at work that are attributable to tiredness and fatigue.