Coronavirus Hall of Fame.

Here is a list of the best-of-the-best, those production companies which are taking part in the governments furlough scheme, guaranteeing 80% payouts to staff and freelancers who have been laid off.

Oftentimes this involves companies having to do a lot of hard work and take quantifiable financial risks to do something which may not be of immediate benefit to them but which are a lifeline to workers struggling with financial hardship.

The owners and management of these companies should be v proud of what they have done, they are saving our industry and helping innumerable people pay their bills.

Brown Bob Productions (Thanks Nicki Gottlieb!)

Curve Media (Rob, Camilla, Paul & Iain stepped up really early – nice work!)

Middlechild TV (Broadcast Best Place to Work in TV 2020)

Strawberry Blond TV (Broadcast Best Place to Work in TV winner 2019)

The BBC (Also donated £700,000 to the Film & TV Charity

Frieda TV (Nice one Jon Lloyd!)

Nutopia (Jane Root – big company, big heart!)

Crackit (Iain Pate and Head of Production Nicki Purcell, much appreciated!)

Thames TV (they’ve taken a big hit from coronavirus but it hasn’t stopped them doing the right thing by their workers)

Warner Brothers (lots of workers, all now getting paid where they may have not been)

Great Scott Media (Leon Wilson & Ed Sleeman – just opened for business, setting a great example to all new indies)

Woodcut Media (we love Kate Beal, and always loved her mum!)

Hungry Bear Media (Thank you Dan, we love you!)

STV Productions Another biggie with a big heart!

Fulwell 73 (Thank you Johnny Moore!)

Firecrest Films (Thank you Nicola Kleeman – and hello from the past, Iain Scollay!)

Shine (Big company, lots of happy workers – thank you Shine!)

Love Productions (A virtual thank you cake in the oven for you Love!)

Google (They make TV too – and made their workers happy!)

Knickerbockerglory TV MD Jonathan Stadlen personally rang his staff within 24 hours to let them know – we love you Jonathan!

Fremantle TV (Job done, thank you all at Fremantle!)

Finestripe Productions (Bless you Katie Lander and Sue Summers)

Ricochet (Thank you Joanna, Bob and all)

Keo Films ( Ingenious, pioneering, authentic – and very lovely)

Windfall (Award winning company with a big heart too!)

Optomen (Tina, Nick, Sophy and Verity – we salute you!)

The Garden (Doing the right thing and campaigning for freelancers too)

Viacom (Big company taking the big step to support their workers)

RDF (Top 20 indie showing its love)

Emporium Productions (Thank you Emma Read!)

Studio Something (New company, genuinely nice people and won a highly commended award at this year’s Broadcast Awards. Great company)

Nine Lives Media (Thanks Cat Lewis , as reported: “They have been great and really made the process easy for us”. Lovely!)

Tern TV (Thanks Harry Bell – award winning company with a big heart and soul)

October Films (Another biggie, looking after the workers)

Northern Town (Nice one Eddie, we knew you’d come good!)

Chalkboard TV (A company that makes great shows, run by great people!)

Argonon Group (Jenny King in HR – thank you for your hard work on this, your team love you for this!)

Tomos TV (Furloughed within hours of the announcement and paying out in March – you lovely people!)

World of Wonder (on the case and furloughing!)

Flicker Productions (“Have furloughed everyone they can, and are working really hard to work out what they can do for people who aren’t eligible. They’ve been great across this whole thing!” Lovely people clearly.

Full Fat TV (Colette Foster, you are much loved for this!)

Wonder TV (Hearing that Wonder are going above and beyond withe their furloughing. Much love to them).

Banjay (Massive group of companies, trying to sort out all their staff

Tuesday’s Child (Karen Smith – we have heard that your hard work keeping people employed has been a “lifesaver” to so many. Much love felt for you by all).

IWC Media (A great company that does things right – we salute you IWC!)

Purple TV (From query to completion, taken care of in under 2 hours. Margot, you’re a gem!

Title Role (15 years of award winning telly – and there for their workers when it really counts – thanks Helen, Ian and Kirsty!)

Two Rivers Media (Did the right thing – Alan Clements, we salute you sir!)

Kindling Media (Furloughing all their staff – love you Sarah McHarry!)

Raise the Roof Productions (Company MD Jane Muirhead personally called staff on the Saturday morning following the chancellor’s statement to let them know – and then followed through. Great work Jane, thank you!)

Stellify Media (Matt and Kieran, your workers salute you sirs – and a lot of them have emailed me to say things that would make you both blush!)

E&E Productions (Furloughing some very happy workers – thank you!)

Neal Street Productions (Thank you from your staff Sam, Pippa and Caro!)

Windfall Films (Much kudos to David et al!)

Spun Gold (As one freelancer said: “It is an absolutely LIFELINE and I cannot begin to enthuse about what a fantastic company it is to work for too”). NB I have heard a LOT of good stories about this company on this front.

Modest TV (“Andrea Hamilton, MD of Modest TV, has furloughed all of her PAYE staff” – hooray!)

Working Title (“They’ve been brilliant with us on the film ‘The Swimmers’ put us on a paid two week hiatus and then furloughed everyone they could. In a cynical industry it’s really heartening when a company has your back”)

Off The Fence (“Not only has it been a lovely company to work for throughout, but their awesomeness extends to difficult times like these – special thanks to Karen Meehan”).

Raw Cut A company  known for its journalistic integrity – and its integrity in matters furlough too!).

Monkey Kingdom (“There are a lot of happy people tonight” says one freelancer – special thanks to Karen Hudson (prod exec), Sam Lawrence (MD), David Grainger & Will Macdonald (creative directors).

If you know a company we should be adding to this list, do let me know – derrywatson@gmail.com. This list will be regularly updated.

Coronavirus and BBC freelancers.

This is the advice sent out yesterday from Bob Shennan to freelancers who work for the BBC.

___________________________________
From: Bob Shennan [internal.communications@bbc.co.uk]
Sent: 27 March 2020 18:57
To: 
Subject: Message from Bob Shennan – Supporting freelance and fixed term colleagues through this challenging period

This message has been sent to all employees in the UK, including presenters and contributors with a current or recent BBC contract

Hi everyone,

I want to start by thanking you all for supporting each other and helping us to provide vital services during this challenging time. Earlier in the week, we, along with other PSBs, contacted the UK Chancellor<http://britishbroadcastingcorporation.newsweaver.com/staff/jnehiix9g5j1o9ra4wavj3/external?email=true&a=6&p=4322956&t=244307> to ask the Government to support our critically important freelance community. I wrote to you yesterday<http://britishbroadcastingcorporation.newsweaver.com/staff/1g7vdxpz6671o9ra4wavj3/external?email=true&a=6&p=4322956&t=244307> and wanted to follow up on the support we plan to provide for our vital fixed term and freelance workforce.

Supporting freelance and fixed term colleagues

We hire temporary employees on fixed term contracts as well as engaging on and off-air freelancers. Some freelancers are paid through our payroll and are often referred to as ‘PAYE freelancers’ or ‘casual workers’. We also engage self-employed freelancers who are paid on a gross basis.

The majority of our freelancers and fixed term colleagues are fully occupied supporting our continuing output and their jobs are not at risk as a result of COVID-19. However, unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus, we have had to postpone or cancel some productions. We know that is creating insecurity and anxiety and our first priority is to try and redeploy our people where we can, recognising that is not always possible.

What support will be available?

We have listened to the concerns of our freelance and fixed term colleagues, as has the UK Government. Following on from the support announced by the Government, we are also putting in place a series of measures that provide support to our fixed term workers as well as our freelance workforce, both PAYE and Self-Employed.

The measures we are offering will provide:

  *   Income protection against any loss of work due to Covid-19 – this wouldn’t apply to contracts that end for other reasons.
  *   Sick pay cover.
  *   Wellbeing support.

What it means for each group

As we engage people differently, these measures will apply in different ways depending on the types of engagement. We have outlined below how they will apply to fixed-term colleagues, PAYE and Self-Employed freelancers.

The Government has provided two schemes, one for PAYE workers and one for the self-employed to ensure that people in each of these groups can access up to 80% of their earnings up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. The schemes are similar but are accessed in different ways. As the schemes were only announced yesterday, we are seeking clarity on some of the details.

If you are on a fixed term contract and joined the BBC before 28th February

  *   With funding support from the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the BBC plans to pay either 100% of your pay or £3,000 per month for the remaining period of your contract up to a maximum of 3 months – whatever is the lesser amount. This will be effective from the 1st March 2020.
  *   You are also eligible for full BBC sick pay and have access to our wellbeing support services (counselling and remote GP service) under your current contract.

If you are a PAYE freelancer and joined the BBC before 28th February

  *   With funding support from the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the BBC plans to pay either 100% of your pay or £3,000 per month for the remaining period of your contract up to a maximum of 3 months – whatever is the lesser amount. This will be effective from the 1st March 2020.
  *   You are entitled to claim Statutory Sick Pay if you are ill and we will top this up to 2 weeks full pay if you are sick while engaged to work for us.
  *   By the end of next week we will also provide additional support with access to our Employee Assistance Programme which offers a range of support including telephone advice, counselling sessions and access to our remote GP services.

If you are a self-employed freelancer (paid Gross pay without deductions for tax and NI)

  *   Yesterday, the Chancellor announced an income support scheme for the self-employed. If you are eligible you will receive a cash grant worth 80% of your average monthly trading profit over the last three years for the three month period from 1st March. This will be paid to you on application through HMRC.
  *   We are expecting details of how this scheme will operate in the next few days. We will publish this for you as soon as we have it and we are exploring the ways that we will be able to supplement this scheme.

Covid-19 Support Fund

We understand that the Government support may not be available until June for self-employed freelancers, and know that may leave some people without an income in the meantime. To help, we have also set up a central fund for freelancers who are adversely impacted by Covid-19. The fund is available to support self- employed freelancers who have, or would have had, booked engagements with the BBC Group between March and June. Payments made from the fund would be offset against future work and we’ll share further details of how to access the fund next week.

Next steps

We hope the proposals we have set out will help support you at this difficult time. They are complex and the mechanism for accessing payments is in the process of being developed. We are also waiting for more guidance from the Government about how their income support schemes will operate.

Because of that, we do not have all the answers right now to the many questions that you will have. I hope you will bear with us as we understand more and develop our proposals in detail. We will continue working on this detail and get back to you as soon as possible.

If you have a question about the Government’s support schemes, you can access more information here<http://britishbroadcastingcorporation.newsweaver.com/staff/6573x08lz2j1o9ra4wavj3/external?email=true&a=6&p=4322956&t=244307>.

We are developing additional supporting materials and frequently asked questions.  In the meantime, you can share your queries about the support the BBC is providing, here<mailto:bbchr@bbc.co.uk?subject=Query%20on%20support%20for%20freelance/fixedterm%20colleagues>.

Thank you

Thank you for everything you are doing to support our audiences and each other at this difficult time. We are here to support all of you.

Bob

Bob Shennan
Managing Director

This email was sent to  from internal.communications@bbc.co.uk<mailto:internal.communications@bbc.co.uk>
Receive in Plain Text<http://britishbroadcastingcorporation.newsweaver.com/staff/subscriber/switchFormat.html?subscriberId=1o9ra4wavj3&mailingRecordId=004nypt7tfw6w97xqs2sdq&to=TEXT&email=true>  

Travelling by Tube is now meant to be restricted to “essential” workers but Envy Post Production expect their workers to travel in to work on Gogglebox?

Concerns are growing amongst staff at TV facilities house Envy Post Production over being required to work for the company in circumstances where they feel at risk of coronavirus infection.

While the company has said that no-one needs to work if they do not have to, current staff are aware that other individuals who were on probation have been sacked, raising fears that if anyone does speak up or does not come in it that might put their own position in jeopardy.

Alongside these concerns, many of those who work at the company have confirmed that they have had to travel to their inner London bases in crowded buses and tubes, contrary to official advice that this be restricted to essential workers.

The company could not confirm whether alternative arrangements had been made which might prevent this happening

Financial help for TV freelancers

It’s the hot topic of the moment in the freelance TV world. Here’s where we are, as it stands on Tuesday evening (24th March):

An open letter has gone out to the management of UK TV broadcasters, and one to the Treasury subcommittee, appealing for help for freelancers who have spent their working lives creating Britain’s best loved (and quite liked) TV shows.

“Work has entirely dried up for the tens of thousands of people who have loyally supported [broadcasters] for years…many can’t survive and will have to leave the industry.”

That plea was picked up by Broadcast magazine in their article: Freelancers: help us survive.

“If broadcasters want a workforce when they do get underway again, then they need to figure out a way of allowing them to survive,”

At which point Netflix dug its warmly welcomed hand into its big pockets and plucked out one million pounds to provide emergency short-term relief to freelancers who have been directly impacted by the closure of productions across the UK. You can ask about applying for some of that cash here.

So now it’s over to the BBC and ITV – will they step up?

Updates (hopefully with the good news that they have) here…

Update: another letter has gone out today (25th March) too. No response yet.

Look what Netflix are doing for our industry…

From Broadcast magazine:

Industry charities establish TV emergency fund
By Michael Rosser
24 March 2020

Netflix ploughs £1m into BFI/Film and TV Charity fund for individuals impacted by production closures

The BFI and The Film and TV Charity have partnered to create the Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund in a bid to help support the creative community during the coronavirus pandemic.

Established with a £1m donation from streaming giant Netflix, the fund will aim to provide emergency short-term relief to active workers and freelancers who have been directly impacted by the closure of productions across the UK.

The Film and TV Charity, which is working on the precise eligibility criteria and level of individual funding, will administer the fund with support from the BFI.

It will be open to all those working in production, distribution and exhibition, and applicants are being asked to register at https://filmtvcharity.org.uk/keep-in-touch/

The charity urged those in immediate and urgent to apply for support via its existing hardship fund, which offers grants of up to £500 to provide stop-gap support. The hardship fund will sit alongside the new Covid-19 relief.

Details on eligibility and how to apply can be found here

The two organisations have also recognised the significant mental health pressures arising as a result of the coronavirus crisis and are developing new advice specifically tailored for the film and TV industries on how to stay mentally well at home.

Conducted in line with the charity’s existing Whole Picture Programme for better mental health, it will also create a new supportive community forum for freelancers.

The BFI is also leading an industry wide Screen Sector Task Force that is looking at the wide-ranging impactsof Covid-19 on the whole industry and its workforce, as well as working closely with the UK government to ensure that all of the ramifications and impacts are considered.

Netflix’s donation follows last week’s establishment of a $100m fund for creatives whose jobs have been affected by the ongoing pandemic.

Most of the funds will go towards support for the hardest hit workers on Netflix’s own productions around the world and is in addition to the two weeks’ pay the streemer had already committed to the crew and cast on suspended productions.

Film and TV charity chief executive Alex Pumfrey said: “The film and TV industry is now facing a huge threat. Many freelancers have seen their livelihoods disappear overnight. We’re entering a period of unprecedented isolation and worry for a workforce that we know from our research already suffers from poor mental health.”

BFI chief executive Ben Roberts said: ‘‘Freelance professionals are the backbone of our film and television industries, and we hope that everyone will work together to support those who have been hardest hit at this extraordinary time of need.”

He added further commercial industry partners were being asked to contribute, where able, and “play their part in helping those most in need get through this crisis”.

Netflix vice president, original series Anne Mensah added: “From electricians to carpenters, hair and makeup artists to drivers – and many more, UK crews have always been vital to Netflix’s success and now we want to help those freelancers who most need support in these unprecedented times.”

Come on ITV and BBC – you can do something like this too!

OPEN LETTER to the Boards of Management of UK TV broadcasters.

21 March 2020
Adrian Pegg, on behalf of the Facebook employment and support group ‘People Who Are Available For Work In TV’

Dear Sir / Madam,

In the late 1980s and 90s our industry changed. It moved from a secure staff workforce to a largely self-employed and freelance workforce. Since then all UK Broadcasters have benefited from reduced overheads, and no direct liabilities for sick pay, redundancy, maternity/paternity leave and so on. The workforce has responded by working flexibly and as required for the Independent Production Companies that sprang up to take your commissions.

In the last few weeks Broadcasters have cancelled commissions, Indies have ceased all production and laid off almost all of their freelancers. Work has consequently entirely dried up for the tens of thousands of people who have loyally supported you for years.

It has become apparent that while the government is rightly supporting employees and businesses with staff (including yours), freelancers have no-one to guarantee their income and at present will only have access to a pittance. Many can’t survive and will have to leave the industry. There are freelancers who are PAYE but can’t access the 80% guarantee because they have no single employer.

When you restart commissioning you will need a workforce to be ready and waiting. So how are you planning to support the hard working professionals who make the programmes you will once again rely on?

Yours faithfully,

Adrian Pegg,
Line Producer https://www.facebook.com/groups/availableforworkintv/

Free training for TV Freelancers.

At a time when the TV industry has been brought pretty much to a standstill, there are still rays of light puncturing the gloom.

One such beam is Donna Taberer – Head of Talent at BBC Content, a Director of ScreenSkills and a thoroughly good egg. Donna is offering some training from March 30th, which looks well worth the money, given that it is entirely free!

Keep an eye on Donna’s Twitter feed for more details.

Sweet Mate Productions. Shaub Miah, Sebastian Nanena and Shazz Bhunnoo.

A warning to anyone considering working for this company or these individuals in the future.

Sweet Mate Productions has recently recruited a number of freelancers to work on one of its productions (“Death Do Us Apart”) and then failed to pay them. They have also used facilities and not settled the bills for the hire of them.

As such due caution should be exercised before embarking on any kind of financial relationship with this company or these three individuals in the future as they are clearly untrustworthy in their business dealings.

If anyone else has been left unpaid by this company please contact Mark Watson, derrywatson@gmail.com.

SWEET MATE PRODUCTIONS LTD
34 Babington Court, Orde Hall Street, London, United Kingdom, WC1N 3JT

How to get a TV Production Running job with no previous experience.

by Beth Bacon, guest writer for the Watercooler.

Starting out in TV can be incredibly daunting. Finding a job within the TV world can feel completely unattainable when viewing the industry as a television fanatic. The one thing to say before anything else is, passion. You HAVE to be passionate about going into TV before you decide it is the career path for you. If you don’t love it from the outside you certainly will not like it from the inside.

I am only starting out myself, and I don’t pretend to speak as any sort of authority. But I felt writing down my thoughts about the industry as I experience each step along the way would be a good way for others following a similar path now, and in the future, to have some sort of guidance from someone who isn’t sitting in a career guidance office.

1. CV

I re-wrote my CV about 15 times before posting it on the Facebook Runner’s Group (more on that later). But, all of my guidance had been given to me by the Careers team at my university.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore the people that work in that office, they really do care about the pupils seeking help from them. But, in the case of my university at least, they don’t have particular expertise when it comes to the TV industry.

I got quite a shocking response from a particular member of the Facebook Runner’s Group, which left me quite downhearted. But every cloud has a silver lining!

I then received a flurry of incredibly thoughtful messages from producers, co-ords, PMs, you name it! One lovely lady (shoutout to Producer Emily Everdee) even gave me my first Floor Running job on a short film!

One man, in particular, reached out to me via phone. He could not have been kinder and I will be forever in his debt. He probably spent at least 4 hours with me (across separate days) on the phone giving me advice about my CV. He then gave up his own valuable time to go through my CV, make corrections, and send me back new edits via email. We corresponded many times via email until my CV was ‘perfected’ and we agreed it was ready to be sent out to employers.

Since then, I have only had positive responses to my CV – and I have even bagged myself some job interviews!

2. EMAIL EMAIL EMAIL

90 per cent of the time you will not get a response, but keep at it!

Watch the credits at the end of your favourite TV programmes, note down the names of the PAs and Production companies and send them a cover letter, CV, and a note to say that you are really keen to get some credits and would love to do some work for them as a Runner if they have anything available. Most of all, BE POLITE AND GRATEFUL.

Look out for the big work experience, graduate schemes, and internships posted by the major television networks, e.g. the BBC, Channel 4, etc.

Follow your favourite production companies on LinkedIn and keep a lookout for any posts about upcoming Runner job applications or trainee opportunities.

3. Facebook

JOIN ‘PEOPLE LOOKING FOR TV WORK: RUNNERS‘. DO THIS RIGHT NOW. RIGHT THIS SECOND.

This is where EVERYONE will tell you ALL the jobs get posted. Facebook is the place to find TV work and this is the page that will have all entry-level job traffic. Also… it has around 58,000 members (at the time of this writing) – so apply to every job that is appropriate for you. You’re up against BIG competition.

4. Network

If and when you are offered a running job, NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK.

I wrote this in my previous post, choose the right moment and, when you do, be yourself.

Stay in touch with people you get along with.

I have been lucky enough to meet some people that have been true gems. They have not only messaged me back when I have sent them overly excited messages about them being right all along, after I have just been offered another running job, but they have also made me feel like I have gained some really great friends.

5. Be proactive

No one is going to get you jobs. This industry is fearless and if you’re going to be a freelancer, which you probably are, you’re going to have to WANT those jobs REALLY badly.

Do not stop when you have enough money to pay the bills – what about that dry patch when you don’t have work for a month?! We have all got to eat guys.

Let’s not forget, you have to learn how to budget and we have all got to learn how to be on the lookout for jobs ALL. THE. TIME.

6. Don’t give up at the first hurdle

If you’re thinking giving up the first time someone tells you that you’re not good enough then you need to start growing a thicker skin to survive in the TV world.

You will get rejected, you will sometimes be unemployed. DO NOT GIVE UP.

Those butterflies of being a tiny cog in that big old clock that produces a beautiful programme for all to behold. THAT buzz will keep you going.

7. Keep watching TV

Keep your passion alive. Keep watching the things you love and that will shine through to employers.

Watch the programmes of the people you will be working for. When you write a job application for a production company, watch their shows. If you get the job, then you will not be afraid of talking about what they’ve done if you get the opportunity on set. If you don’t get the job, well then you have learnt something new from watching a programme you would not have otherwise.

Stay up to date with what is popular in terms of hit series, but also in terms of new filming styles and genres, and up-and-coming producers, actors, etc.

8. PEOPLE IN TV ARE LOVELY!!!

Most importantly, don’t be afraid! Almost every person I have met in TV so far have been absolute angels.

Yes, you may encounter the odd knobhead or two. But, as my boss at my first waitressing job told me, kill them with kindness. If someone is being nasty to you for no apparent reason, there is either something going on in their life that has made them react in that way, which means their behaviour has nothing to do with you. Or, they are a general mega bitch, and they are not worth your mental energy.

Once again, GOOD LUCK and SEE YOU ON SET!

(Beth also has a blog – Bacon’s Beacon – have a look, it’s good!)