Sumners in trouble?

Concern over the future of Manchester post house Sumners

Concern over the future of Manchester post house Sumners

Jake Bickerton
30 July 2014
It has been reported (by Prolific North) that Manchester’s Sumners might be in trouble. Once the doyen light of the Manchester post scene, Sumners has had a forgettable couple of years, downsizing to a point where there are reportedly only 11 personnel left at the company.

Prolific North raised the alert about Sumners after a number of freelancers approached it to say they hadn’t been paid by Sumners, a situation which co-founder Janet Sumner confirmed was true. According to Prolific North, she then refused to comment about the reasons why payments had been withheld or talk at all about the future of the company.

Sumners has recently worked on Young Dracula, Restaurant Wars: The Battle for Manchester, The Mill and Psychobitches.

From: Televisual

Careers in TV for women

Be flexible to retain talent

TV can do more to stop talented women leaving the industry just when they reach their creative peak, says Kate Beal

I grew up with the assumption that being a successful woman with a sustain- able career in television was an achievable normality. My mother Jan Beal started out as a news copytaker in the 1960s and went on to achieve great things in a very male-dominated environment.

I’m not sure my daughter will feel the same. My contemporaries and I are largely freelance and have no long-term career expectations.

After a recent panel discussion on women in TV at a top media university, I was surrounded by young girls telling me of their experiences.They were excited to see a number of female speakers on the panel, but they surprised me in their assumption of a basic division that boys do the technical jobs and girls take on the production roles.

When these girls enter the workplace, thankfully they won’t face the old-school sexism that others have grown up with. Incidents ignored, or seen as part of the job, only 10 years ago are no longer acceptable. The line is clear and women are more respected by their male colleagues than ever.

Young women make great strides in TV and are encouraged to do so. Over the years, formal and informal mentoring of young women has made a real difference.

But it’s not just sexism, everyday or otherwise, that we have to overcome now in 2014 – it’s practicalities. This is where I think the major difference lies between my generation and my mum’s.

It’s a challenge for a woman in her midthirties to have a family and keep working, especially if she is a producer/director.

Our predecessors had staff jobs, maternity leave and pensions. It’s tough to bring up a child amid the instability of a casual workforce with demanding filming schedules – but the peer-led organisation Media Parents can be a great help.

We need more flexible working hours, clearer, thought-out production schedules and job shares. None of this is groundbreaking – we just need to do more. When a woman hits her mid-thirties, she’s in her creative stride. That’s when we need to retain talent – not lose it.

Ageism combined with sexism is still at play. Women tend to leave the industry by the age of 50 and I wonder how much of this is by choice. Over the past 10 years, I’ve watched my mum’s contemporaries have to fight for jobs they are more than qualified for.

Yet despite some of the setbacks, I believe we can make this current television landscape work, and some are already leading the way in suggesting improvements. My mum’s generation led the way too and we can continue to break that glass ceiling to achieve all they dreamed of.

Kate Beal is managing director of Talent TV South

(From: Broadcast)

BBC not paying their workers

This just in from Graduate Fog:

BBC Scotland warned over unpaid runner roles at Glasgow 2014

*Has the BBC fluffed its renewed commitment to diversity already? BBC Scotland has been warned to stay within the law over multiple full-time, unpaid “voluntary runner” roles it advertised earlier this year, to work at a live event coinciding with the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. The advert was placed shortly before the corporation announced a renewed commitment to improving diversity among its staff, and the placements are happening now.
Graduate Fog has learned that broadcasting union BECTU has held talks with the BBC Scotland over the roles and is monitoring the corporation after multiple young applicants were spotted being recruited in May to work at ‘BBC at the Quay’. Wannabe runners were told they would need to sign up to one of two daily shifts (“early morning to mid-afternoon or mid-afternoon to close of site”) and that their job would involve “a variety of daily tasks.” Despite being told they must “support to the Events team and BBC productions team backstage, assist the site’s visitors and perform general runner duties” for no wages, applicants were told they must display “a cheerful can-do attitude” at all times. Here is the advert in full:

How to volunteer at BBC at The Quay

BBC at the Quay – Runners (Voluntary)

BBC at the Quay is a live, pop-up festival coinciding with the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and the accompanying city-wide cultural celebration Festival 2014. The site, in front of BBC Scotland’s HQ at Pacific Quay, will host a wide variety of live radio and television programmes and recordings as well as non-broadcast events originated both by the BBC and external organisations.

We aim to offer visitors of all ages a memorable, entertaining and high-quality experience in a safe environment. We will celebrate the cultural diversity of the Commonwealth using big BBC brands in a curated programme of events targeted both at audiences who already love the BBC and those who are harder for us to reach.

The site will be open for 16 days from Friday 19th July – Sunday 3rd August 2014. We are looking for Volunteers who would be available for the entire period to help us run the event smoothly. There will also be a Volunteers Briefing on Thursday 17th July which you will be required to attend. These are full time positions.

This is an excellent opportunity to gain hands-on experience in live event production during one of the most exciting sporting events ever to take place in Glasgow. As a volunteer you will also have the chance to learn from industry professionals from all areas of the BBC such as TV, Radio and Events.

There will be a variety of daily tasks to carry out as you work across the festival site to support the Events team and the BBC production teams backstage, assist the site’s visitors and perform general Runner duties. Volunteers’ tasks are varied and require a cheerful, can-do attitude.

The site is open from 09:00 until 01:00 daily. Volunteers would cover one of two daily shifts, either early morning to mid-afternoon or mid-afternoon to close of site however there may be some variations of this shift pattern to accommodate special broadcasts.

There will be a significant amount of interaction with the public in these roles, so it is important that candidates are confident, friendly and aware of their role as ambassadors for the BBC at all times.

We are looking for reliable candidates who can work well under pressure, are able to adapt to working with multiple teams, demonstrating clear communication skills and the flexibility to adapt to a wide range of situations. Previous experience of events or production environments would be beneficial, but not essential.

PLEASE NOTE: You will need to be based in the Glasgow area as we will be unable to provide accommodation. Travel expenses to and from the site will be supplemented. In addition, Volunteers must attend a briefing on Thursday 17th July at the BBC at the Quay site located outside the BBC Scotland’s headquarters at 40 Pacific Quay, Glasgow, G51 1DA. All volunteers must be over 18. Food & drink will be provided for all Volunteers.

If you’re interested in volunteering, or would like to find out more, please email:-

Applicants should include a CV, a short reference and a statement about why they want to be considered for this position.

Application deadline: 23:59pm Monday 05 May 2014

Were these really ‘volunteer’ roles? And were they really open to everyone? We asked BBC Scotland to explain:

From: Graduate Fog
Re: Unpaid runners at BBC at the Quay

My name is Tanya de Grunwald and I run the graduate careers blog Graduate Fog.

One of my readers has drawn my attention to an advert for voluntary runners to work at BBC at the Quay during the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and the accompanying cultural Festival 2014 (pasted below).

The advert states that the positions are “full-time” and involve “daily tasks”. As such, can you explain how the BBC feels these positions fit with the UK’s National Minimum Wage law?

I would also like to ask how you feel that these are truly accessible to all young people, when they are full-time and unpaid?

With many thanks


The BBC replied:

From: BBC
To: Graduate Fog

Dear Tanya

Thankyou for your email about volunteers at BBC@the Quay.

These work experience placements are for the BBC@the Quay ‘live site’ and will be based at BBC Scotland’s headquarters in Glasgow. The site will showcase BBC brands, content and services and provide a destination site for members of the public. The site is part of the BBC’s commitment to the wider cultural programme that is running alongside the Commonwealth Games. The advertised roles will support the running of the site and will involve undertaking a variety of tasks which will allow those successful candidates to obtain valuable skills and work experience, during an extremely exciting time for the BBC and for Glasgow.

These roles have been defined in line with our work experience policy; individuals are placed within the BBC for a limited period of time, during which they have the opportunity to learn directly about working life and the working environment in the broadcasting industry. The BBC@the Quay work experience placements will offer valuable work experience to assist individuals in obtaining future employment in the sector.

The BBC Work Experience policy has strict guidelines in relation to working hours and shifts and successful candidates will work on a rota basis in line with these requirements.

BBC Scotland chose to open these opportunities to the general public in order to allow a diverse range of candidates to apply, and to provide opportunities to those individuals who missed out on the official Commonwealth Games organising committee volunteering placements.

This is not a new approach to work experience. BBC Scotland has undertaken similar work experience programmes to support running the Edinburgh Festival site. BBC at the Edinburgh Festivals is entering its fourth year, and each year BBC Scotland have offered similar work experience opportunities to allow local students and members of the public the opportunity to gain valuable experience at such a significant cultural event. Feedback from the volunteers in previous years has been extremely positive. The placements provided development and networking opportunities for individuals trying to establish themselves in the industry or looking to gain new skills and experience. Many of our volunteers from previous years have gone on to secure paid employment with the BBC, in our Runner or Production Management Assistant pools.

I would like to reassure you that those who are successful in securing one of the BBC @the quay work experience opportunities will be managed in line with the BBC work experience policy and will also benefit from CV clinics and career support in terms of advice on how to secure future employment with the BBC. These workshops will be an integrated part of their placements with BBC @the quay.

Sharon Mair is the Project Executive with responsibility for the design and delivery of the site and would be happy to discuss the programme with you in more detail by phone or in person if that would be helpful.

Kind regards

Hm. Not that reassuring, is it? We wrote back:

From: Graduate Fog

Thanks for this.

However, I remain unclear on how these positions fit with the minimum wage law, which states that anybody who does work that’s of value to their employer and would otherwise need to be done by a paid member of staff must be paid for their time. I am not interested in how they fit with the BBC’s work experience policy, only how they fit with UK employment law. The fact that ‘shifts’ are involves also suggests that these runners will have set hours, (ie will not be free to come and go as they please) which further cements a ‘worker’ relationship, by law. If somebody is a ‘worker’, their employer must pay them. They cannot waive their right to pay, even if they say they are willing to work for free as it’s such good experience.

I am also concerned that you continue to underline how these unpaid positions lead to paid jobs. Surely this only underlines the fact that paid positions are out of reach to those who cannot afford to work for free first?

Thanks again


The BBC wrote back:

To: Graduate Fog
From: BBC Scotland

Hi Tanya

Thank you for your reply.

The positions that we have advertised for work experience at the BBC@ The Quay site are support roles, which will be in addition to the several hundred team members working at the site across the duration of the festival. Large BBC productions will be taking place at the site, aided by their own teams of BBC employees. The festival itself is not therefore dependent on the roles of those undertaking the work experience placements. Of course, these positions will provide support to help the event run more smoothly but they are not event critical positions. Therefore they are not positions which would otherwise need to be filled by a paid member of staff.

The set hours of the placements are in line with our work experience policy which states that ‘Managers should ensure individuals know their expected daily start and finish times including breaks’. Breaks will also be on a rota and assigned based on the start and finish times. In managing the work experience placements by a rota system, it will allow for each individual to gain exposure to the variety of live productions and events that the site has to offer them in gaining valuable experience.

I do hope that clarifies the points you raised.

Kind regards

As we seemed to be going round in circles, we contacted our friends at BECTU. Happily, it turned out they were already on the case. A representative from BECTU in London told us:

“Our Scottish colleagues have had detailed discussions with BBC Scotland on this and are satisfied that these are work experience placements, and that they will be utilised in accordance with the BECTU-BBC agreements for such placements. Our local branch safety reps will also be monitoring their usage to ensure the agreements are fully adhered to.

“We agree that the wording of this advert may look bad, but my understanding is once the detailed arrangements were spelled out, our colleagues were reassured that in practice it’s above board. We’ve encountered this before: a badly-composed ad or listing makes a perfectly acceptable arrangement look dodgy.

“As the recognised union at the BBC, we have numerous formal agreements with them, including an agreement on work placements. There have been detailed discussions between BECTU reps and BBC management about this particular situation…

“We can’t publish the minutes of those discussions because they are the joint property of BECTU and the BBC – that’s how industrial relations works. But the BBC has given us formal assurances about this particular arrangement, and on that basis we believe that it is in line with our agreement.

“What’s more, to back that up, we will have the names of all the young people on these work placements, and our reps will have access to them to give support and advice, and if any of them is unhappy they will be able to lodge a formal complaint or grievance.”

Given BECTU’s excellent record on investigating unpaid work, Graduate Fog is confident that they will do an thorough job of monitoring these roles to ensure that those who have taken them feel fairly treated as true ‘volunteers’. However, we remain concerned that the BBC has yet again shown a lack of understanding about the underlying causes of their diversity problem. Undoubtedly, these runner roles will improve the CVs of those who do the roles. But surely young people from wealthier backgrounds are more likely to be in a position to take them? What about those who need to earn actual money this summer – won’t they be excluded?

Tales of TV’s Dark Side

I hope you might be able to help me with a worthwhile project.
I’m helping out with a session at this year’s Edinburgh television festival entitled “HOW TO RUN A BETTER INDIE” which will feature the true stories of the worst things freelancers have ever had to do in the name of making great, and not so great, telly, and I’m looking to gather those examples.
I going to use actors/comedians to film a range of anonymous anecdotes  (written in a way that will hide their identities) that reveal some of the lunatic demands placed upon freelancers during their career. We won’t be asking people to name names and all the anecdotes will be treated in the strictest confidence so participants shouldn’t worry about their career prospects.
This is a chance to vent and share horrifying or hilarious (or both) tales of working in telly. But it will have a purpose- we’ll screen the stories to a panel of influential industry insiders at the festival to see how they react and ask them what they’ll do to make the world we work in a better place.
I’d really appreciate it if you could forward/post/share/tweet this link which contains the details, among your members, facebook friends and colleagues or ask them to email their experiences to 
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need any further information.
Thanks for taking the time to read this


Paul Hughes

“He Who Dares 2” and other Health and Safety nightmares…

Hollywood’s health and safety nightmare

Helicopter crashes, out-of-control explosions, runaway trains… As accidents on the sets of Star Wars and Midnight Rider show, film-making can be a very dangerous business

Vic Morrow...Investigators look over wreckage of helicopter which crashed during filming of a movie in a private park near Castaic, California on Friday, July 23, 1982. The crash killed veteran actor Vic Morrow and two child actors during filming of scene in a movie revival

The helicopter crash on the set of The Twilight Zone, which killed Vic Morrow and two child actors Photo: AP Photo/Scott Harms

It was the middle of the afternoon when the emergency call came from Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire. A 71-year-old man had injured his ankle “in an incident involving a garage door”. Paramedics on the air ambulance sent to ferry him to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford were amazed to discover their patient was no ordinary pensioner, but Hollywood actor Harrison Ford. His ankle had been smashed by a door falling from the Millennium Falcon, the spaceship his character Han Solo flies in the original Star Wars trilogy.

Weeks later, any initial suspicions that producers were being overcautious about their star have been dispelled; Ford had broken his left leg. No 71-year-old, however fit, rich and famous, is going to recover quickly from such an injury. Ford is expected to miss at least eight weeks of filming on Stars Wars: Episode VII.

Ford’s accident – involving, as it did, one of the leading men in the most high-profile film currently in production – was bound to make headlines. But many more have gone largely unreported. In fact, it’s the film industry’s dirty secret that accidents – even fatal ones – on film sets are ­shockingly common.

Statistics are hard to collate because most health and safety executives don’t file incidents under “film industry”, but it appears that between 20 and 40 people worldwide are killed or seriously injured during a film production each year — more, proportionately, than in US law enforcement, road construction or mining. (A particularly shocking statistic when you bear in mind that the majority of film employees have “safe” office jobs.)

“Certainly on lower-budget films, we suspect there is a lot of under-reporting of accidents and near misses,” says Martin Spence, assistant general secretary of BECTU, the media and entertainment union.

“Film sets are inherently dangerous,” says a producer of several blockbusters who doesn’t want to be named. “Even when it’s just a scene of two people walking across a set, there will be tremendous amounts of electricity, hot lights, ladders, heavy suspended equipment, power tools and trip hazards like cabling and carpentry everywhere.

“If you’re talking horror or thriller genres where the public always demands more thrills than ever before, you can add in weapons, explosives, chemicals, loud noises, cranes, helicopters. Factor in the constant time and money pressures, the fact that nearly everyone is freelance and working on a temporary structure, and it’s actually surprising more disasters don’t happen.”

A photo posted on Harrison Ford’s Twitter account after his ‘Star Wars’ accident (INF/ Twitter)


The majority of accidents involve falls, fight sequences and trips and slips. The most dangerous work, unsurprisingly, involves helicopter crashes, which have killed 33 US film and television workers (no British figures are available) – nearly one a year – since 1980.

“Film-making is a weird world – a physical and psychological bubble,” says one crew member, who claims he was nearly killed last year when he fell from four-storey scaffolding which had no ladders or handrails and an insufficient number of walking boards, during a shoot for a big studio. He managed to save himself by grabbing a rail. In 2004 a similar accident killed a crew member of 2004’s The Phantom of the Opera.

“For eight or 10 weeks the director’s in charge of cast and crew, sometimes in a remote location, and his or her word is law,” he says. “If he wants people to do something crazy, it’s very hard for someone lower down the ladder to speak up.”


In the early days of film-making, death and injuries were almost an occupational hazard.Between 1925 and 1930, nearly 11,000 people were injured during Californian film productions; 55 died.

During the filming of 1920’s Haunted Spooks, the star Harold Lloyd lost his thumb and the first finger of his right hand when he picked up a bomb with a lit fuse which he assumed was a prop but which turned out to be real. For the rest of his career, Lloyd hid his missing fingers with a prosthetic glove. The same year, actress Lillian Gish lost the tips of her fingers to frostbite while being filmed floating on an ice floe towards Niagara Falls.

In 1928’s Noah’s Ark, 15,000 gallons of water were dumped too quickly on a crowd of extras in a studio tank. Three men drowned, another lost a leg and dozens were injured, including Marion Morrison – better known by his stage name, John Wayne.

Following this, the first film safety laws were passed, but accidents still happened with alarming regularity. During filming of 1939’s The Wizard of Oz, the Wicked Witch of the West, Margaret Hamilton, was badly burnt during the scene when she “vanished” in a burst of flame and smoke, when the trap door that should have removed her from the explosion was late opening. Her stunt double was injured in a scene involving a smoking broomstick, while Buddy Ebsen, originally cast as the Tin Man, had to leave the production after an allergic reaction to his make-up, resulting in a collapsed lung and lifelong breathing problems.

READ: Worst film ever: the legend of Eldorado

But the public became truly aware of the dangers of movie making only in 1982 when, during filming of Twilight Zone: The Movie, a helicopter flying just eight metres off the ground got caught in the pyrotechnics and span out of control, killing actor Vic Morrow and two child actors, aged six and seven, who were being paid in cash to circumvent laws banning children from working at night. Morrow’s line, which he never got to deliver, was, “I’ll keep you safe, kids. I promise. Nothing will hurt you, I swear to God.”

Investigators concluded there had been 36 safety violations and the tragedy resulted in a near-decade-long lawsuit. In the aftermath, numerous new safety codes were implemented. Over the next four years, accidents on set fell by almost 70 per cent, although there were still six deaths. While filming a Pepsi commercial in 1984, Michael Jackson’s hair was set on fire by a faulty pyrotechnic, resulting in second and third-degree burns to his scalp and body. After this he became addicted to painkillers, a condition which contributed to his death in 2009.

Since then, the litany of disasters has continued. Several stars, including Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2 and Bruce Willis in Die Hard, have suffered permanent hearing damage after firing guns without using earplugs. During recent filming of the third Hunger Games film, Jennifer Lawrence nearly choked to death when a fog machine suffered a “horrific” malfunction.

Jennifer Lawrence, who nearly choked during filming the latest Hunger Games film (REX)

Unsurprisingly, far more at risk than the stars are professional stuntmen and women, with Hollywood recording 37 deaths related to stunts between 1980 and 1990. Since then, increased use of computer-generated imagery in films has meant the riskiest feats can be simulated. But stunt people remain in the front line, with many unwilling to turn down jobs for fear of being blacklisted. In 1995, respected stuntwoman Sonja Davis was killed when she hit her head making a 47ft backwards jump from a building for a scene in Vampire in Brooklyn. Friends said she’d refused the job initially, but then accepted after being offered more money, worried a refusal would render her unemployable.

In 2009, Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry Potter stunt double David Holmes was left paralysed after crashing backwards into a wall while filming the reaction to an explosion. Just last month, a stuntwoman began legal proceedings after receiving “severe” burns during the making of Face Off, an American reality show in which prosthetic make-up artists compete against each other to create the sort of prostheses found in science fiction and horror films.

But even more vulnerable are the often underpaid and overworked men and women behind the scenes. Investigations into safety standards on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings franchise and King Kong, filmed in New Zealand, revealed that one model-maker was forced off work with permanent lung damage, allegedly after inhaling toxic chemicals.

Another contractor, who collapsed after ventilation fans failed, claimed he was “harassed about unfinished work” when he came in the following day.

Most at risk are cameramen and women, who are usually closest to the action but with little of the protective gear afforded actors and stunt people. In February this year, 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones was killed while filming for Midnight Rider, a biopic of singer Gregg Allman, starring William Hurt. The accident happened during a dream sequence filmed on a railway bridge; with no warning, a freight train approached. Cast and crew ran for their lives but Jones, known for her indefatigability, was mown down, apparently as she tried to rescue equipment.

Hurt, who quit the movie, recalled in an email leaked to the Los Angeles Times how he’d previously asked the producers “how long the crew had to get off if by some impossible chance another train came”, and was told 60 seconds. “I said, ‘Sixty seconds is not enough time to get us off this bridge.’ There was a communal pause. No one backed me up. Then, we… just went ahead.” Then the train came. “We didn’t have 60 seconds; we had less than 30.”

Jones’s parents, who lobbied successfully on social media for her death to be acknowledged at the Oscars, where many attendees wore black ribbons on their lapels in her memory, said she had confided she was worried about her superiors’ inexperience. In a letter to the American Society of Cinematographers, Jones’s father wrote: “The industry apparently needs safer film sets, which… needs to start with a rediscovery of its spirituality… If the people in charge of Midnight Rider had properly regarded the lives they controlled on February 20, would they have placed them on that railroad trestle without proper safety measures?”

The producers are now facing multiple lawsuits from Jones’s parents, as well as other cast and crew members, alleging, among other charges, that they had not secured permission to film on the track, but concealed this fact from the rest of the cast and crew. Also being sued is Gregg Allman, who insists he had nothing to do with choosing the train-track location and who had begged producers (eventually successfully) to abandon the film after Jones’s death. Midnight Rider’s director, producer and production manager have now been charged with involuntary manslaughter, and could face up to 10 years in jail.

Naturally, all big studios insist that safety is paramount. “It’s our first priority; we have a safety meeting every single day and insurance people are always on set saying: ‘You can’t do this’, or ‘Try this another way’,” says one producer.

“It’s far cheaper to carry out advance checks than to risk a multimillion-dollar lawsuit or insurance premiums tripling. Everyone on set is always telling each other: ‘This is a hot spot’; ‘Watch your back.’ Assistant directors, who are mainly in charge of safety, get very angry with anyone who, for example, is fooling around during a stunt, and ban them from set.”

Despite this, many crew members tell of safety concerns being overlooked, with all but the most powerful afraid to speak out. “I complained about safety standards with my manager and he didn’t speak to me for the rest of the shoot, probably because he was covering his own back,” says the crew member who fell from scaffolding. “This was last year and since then I haven’t worked. In an industry where nearly everyone is self-employed you daren’t stick your neck out.”

“It’s absolutely true that the nature of freelance employment means no one wants to be a troublemaker,” says Martin Spence. “But, in my experience, those who do stand up and say ‘No’ gain a lot of credibility. There are idiots out there, but there are also decent producers, who will respect that.”


Recently, a video went viral from the British set of a low-budget film He Who Dares 2. It appeared to show a flying door narrowly missing an actress after an explosion. Message boards were filled with anonymous posts from film workers describing similarly dangerous incidents they’d experienced or witnessed, not to mention numerous complaints about low or no pay, and appalling working conditions.

“I can’t stress enough how quickly things can go wrong on a set,” wrote one. “People constantly get hurt, when everyone is doing their best to create a safe environment. When someone, especially higher-ups, decide to be reckless it becomes like playing Hacky Sack with a bag of unstable chemicals.” The film’s producer promptly had his lawyers take the clip down, and reportedly threatened crew members tempted to talk with legal action.

In the UK, BECTU is concerned by a proposed parliamentary bill that would leave most self-employed people, including those in the film industry, completely uncovered by any health and safety regulations.

“Right now [the Health and Safety Executive] virtually never makes proactive spot checks on set,” says Spence. “I’m sure they’d like to but they don’t have as many inspectors as they’d need. The only time they visit is when there’s been a near miss or some other incident.”

While some crew members demand statutory shorter hours, others rely on overtime earned during long days. Others worry that lobbying for tighter regulations will ­simply result in even more filming being outsourced abroad. “Already no one wants to shoot in the US, because it’s so unionised and overtime rates are so high,” says one director.

On some occasions, budget restraints have forced actors to perform stunts themselves. In 1988, British actor Roy Kinnear died after falling from a horse in The Return of the Musketeers. Kinnear, 54, expected a double to be used for the riding sequences but, at the last minute, he wrote to his wife, Carmel: “Oh, gosh, darling. I’ve been called on to do a stunt.”

Brandon Lee, who was killed while filming The Crow (REX)

“Actors are inclined to take undue risks with their lives,” Carmel said later. “They are frightened. Time is money. They don’t want to hold production up. They don’t want to look silly in front of other people.” The film’s director, Richard Lester, whose credits included Superman II and A Hard Day’s Night, was so distressed he retired from film. The movie, however, was still released.

Indeed, no matter how tragic the fallout, the show nearly always goes on. Actor Brandon Lee died aged 28 while filming The Crow in 1993, when he shot himself with a gun meant to fire blanks. The film’s firearms expert had earlier been sent home. Filming continued, with Lee’s fiancée’s and mother’s blessing, using a stunt double, and it became a cult hit – in part because of the ghoulish associations.

The Twilight Zone movie was released to mixed reviews and only modest financial success. Its director, John Landis, who was eventually cleared of involuntary manslaughter, went on to direct hits such as Trading Places and Coming to America. (The courtroom was especially charged – at one point the prosecutor hissed “murderer” at Landis as he walked past.) But the film’s co-producer Steven Spielberg ended a long friendship with him, saying the accident “made me grow up a little more” and left everyone who worked on the movie “sick to the centre of our souls… No movie is worth dying for.”

At Pinewood, concern about Ford’s health coexisted with worry about the millions of dollars potentially at stake if the shoot was delayed for lack of its biggest star. Some speculated Ford would be filmed from the waist up, and, in the meantime, producers frantically altered schedules to keep filming on time.

“The phrase you hear all the time is, ‘Just get the job done’,” says the man who survived the scaffolding fall. He has had only one safety briefing in five years of working on big shoots. “I nearly died on a huge-budget movie but there was no, ‘How are you?’ just, ‘How soon can you be back at work?’ It’s showbusiness; the cameras don’t stop turning for anything.”

Executive Producer, Director and Producer face criminal charges over Health and Safety

Gregg Allman film: Director charged over crew death

Randall Miller Director Randall Miller was present at the accident in February, and was pulled to safety by fellow crew members

The director of a biopic about singer Gregg Allman, and two of the film’s producers, are facing involuntary manslaughter charges.

It follows a fatal train crash on the film’s set in south east Georgia in February, which led to the death of camera assistant Sarah Jones.

A grand jury charged Randall Miller, producer Jody Savin and executive producer Jay Sedrish on Thursday.

Jones, 27, was hit by a train on the first day of filming Midnight Rider.

Seven other crew members were injured in the incident, which saw the camera assistant fatally struck after the crew placed a bed on the railway tracks in Doctortown while filming a dream sequence.

It is understood the crew were expecting two local trains to pass through, but a third had arrived unexpectedly. A warning whistle was blown, but they had less than a minute to remove the bed from the track.

Musician Gregg Allman The biopic was based on musician Gregg Allman’s autobiography My Cross to Bear

Miller, Savin and Sedrish are each charged with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass, according to a statement from local district attorney Jackie Johnson.

The prosecution alleges film-makers had “unlawfully and without authority” entered onto the railway tracks “after receiving, prior to that entry, notice from the owner thereof that such entry was denied”.

It remains unclear whether the crew had permission to be on the tracks. Local police investigators say they did have permission to be on property nearby.

The manslaughter charges against the film team could bring a possible sentence of 10 years in prison under Georgia law.

William Hurt William Hurt, who was to star as Allman in the film, pulled out after the train accident

In a statement, Jones’s father, Richard, said: “[My wife] and I are comfortable that the authorities were both careful and meticulous in investigating and bringing charges related to the incident that took our daughter’s life.

“We must allow the criminal justice process to proceed unhindered. Our mission remains the same: to ensure safety on all film sets. Safety for Sarah.”

In May, Jones’s parents sued the director, producers and other entities affiliated with the film including musician Allman.

The civil case claims film-makers “selected an unreasonably dangerous site for the filming location” and failed to take actions to adequately protect the crew.

Filming on Midnight Rider was suspended in the aftermath of the train tragedy, and actor William Hurt – who was due to play Allman – pulled out of the production


(From: the BBC)

Televisual: 63.9% of jobs in film and TV are held by men, 36.1% by women

Creative industry jobs on the rise, says DCMS

Creative industry jobs on the rise, says DCMS

Tim Dams
30 June 2014
Employment within the UK creative industries has increased five times faster than the national average, according to new figures published by the Department for Culture Media and Sport.

The DCMS’ Creative Industries: Focus on Employment report says that there were 1.71m jobs in the creative industries in 2013, an increase of 10.1% since 2011.

The creative industries now account for around 1 in 18 jobs, or 5.6% of all jobs in the UK in 2013.

Almost a third of creative industry jobs are based in London, according to the report.

One in every ten job held by graduates in the UK is in the creative industries. The film and TV sector has the highest proportion of graduates in the creative industries, with 56.5% holding a degree or equivalent.

63.9% of jobs in film and TV are held by men, 36.1% by women.

The report found that a lower proportion of jobs in film and TV were filled by people in the BAME group (8.6%) than in the rest of the UK economy (10.1%).

(From: Televisual mag)

Broadcast: Young women leaving television

Hunt ‘devastated’ by young women leaving television

Jay Hunt has made a plea for young women to persevere in the television industry, adding that she was “devastated” by the number leaving the sector.

The Channel 4 chief creative officer was the guest speaker at High Flyers, the ROAR Global and Cole Kitchen networking event for under-30s.

She told the room: “One of the things I find devastating is the number of women your age leaving the industry, and how many people think: ‘I can’t make it work’. I would encourage all women in the room particularly: please don’t give up.

“It’s massively important to us as a sector that you stay and you keep regarding this as something you can do and can square with a family life.”

Hunt added that it was a “tough industry” for young people in general, but encouraged the room to “stay committed” as persistence would open the doors to a “very big prize”.

That prize, she said, was the opportunity to break into a sector that was becoming “less complicated”.

“I feel you’re in a great place. You only have to look at how the whole sector is blowing up. I think what will happen, and what is happening now, is what you’re watching content on is becoming increasingly irrelevant. It’s all about the quality of content.”

The C4 exec, who joined from the BBC in 2011, stressed the importance of “taking risks”, adding that opportunities to “move sideways” gave her a chance to broaden her experiences and carve out a “luxurious career”.

Hunt said: “The greatest joy you will have from this industry is from taking punts on things you believe in. You’re just as likely to succeed by doing something crazy as you are doing something familiar.”

During the Q&A sector of the event, Hunt was questioned about the ethics of programme titles, specifically Love Productions’ controversial series Benefits Street.

She said that she “subscribed to a greater good argument” and believed the series shone a light on an important topic in modern Britain.

“The show consolidated to 6 million, which for C4 was extremely extraordinary and profound, and got people talking about the underbelly of society. It got people to think about the inequality gap and got us talking about benefits in an important year in the run up to the general election.

“Do you think if we called it Community Street or What It’s Like To Be Poor, anyone would want to watch it? No. Great public service television has got to be sold to an audience.”

(From Broadcast Mag)

JackFrancis Media. Steven Harris

A company that likes to make money, but doesn’t like to spend it on its junior workers. Shameful behaviour JackFrancis Media!

Employer: JackFrancis Media
Location: Basildon – Norfolk pointer
Duration: 20th – 25th July, starts 20th July
More Info:
Apply to: Jessica
Created: 13 Jun 2014, Expires: 27 Jun 2014

We are looking for a Production Runner that is available for 6 days from the 20th – 25th July. For an apprentice style show for an online audience. Please only apply if you are available for the entire shoot duration.

You don’t need bags of experience to apply for this role, however you do need a keen and hard working attitude whilst on set and be willing to work long hours. This is the perfect opportunity for someone looking to gain experience on set and learn from a very talented crew. Please note the role is unpaid.

The filming location is in Norfolk, you need to be able to make your own way to location, but your accommodation, expenses & food will be provided for the 6 days.

Please include any relevant experience in your application.

Why isn’t this paid at least the minimum wage?