Marc Hayward. Spark Content.

Freelancers will no doubt now be fully aware of the story of Marc Hayward and his treatment of freelancers working on his productions. After some very brave whistleblowing by a number of individuals who worked for him, Hayward’s company Spark Content/Go TV Media was investigated by Insight TV, for whom he was making “G2 Making The Squad: Fortnite Edition”. That investigation turned up some pretty gruesome behaviour including bullying, enforcing excessive working hours and failing to pay people on time.

According to Deadline (well worth a read), Hayward‘s modus operandi was to regularly scream at and verbally abuse colleagues, “aggressively picking up a glass to a member of staff” and “putting a fist up” to another, along with failing to pay numerous people thousands of pounds on time, with some still owed money. All claims which were found to be borne out by the investigators.

After BECTU got involved (join the union people, you know it makes sense!), Insight TV agreed to pay the outstanding invoices for people who worked on their show, albeit they required freelancers to sign confidentiality clauses. Hayward himself claims that his company is now in liquidation, however there is no sign on Companies House of that happening yet, at least not at the time of writing.

Either way, there should clearly be no place for Hayward in our industry in the future. If he should crop up again, best advice is for everyone to continue to spread the word of his history. It would be a service to all as we clearly don’t need his type around, life being tough enough as it is.

Zuzanna Skurtys. Art Director.

One of the hazards of being a freelancer in our industry is the lingering fear of not being paid for our work. Employees are, of course, much more secure in their livelihood, knowing that they are on a payroll and that the money they are owed will definitely come in every month. On time and the correct amount, so they can pay their bills.

Freelancers though – ah, not so much.

Late payment and – occasionally -no payment at all, are twin dangers lurking with all employments. Sometimes that risk is greater with some jobs (independent film making) than others (big TV companies). And sometimes it happens with employers who you really would have thought should know better. Like other freelancers.

Freelancers like Zuzanna Skurtys. This individual recently employed a number of people to work on an event for a celebrity client. They all did the work which was asked of them and then duly submitted their invoices, expecting (of course) to be paid. Expectations which, it seems, were somewhat misplaced as Zuzanna not only walked away from her commitments to pay her workers, but also refused to discuss the matter at all, simply shutting up shop to all enquiries.

Happy to take the work, less happy to actually pay for it. Which has left a number of freelancers badly out of pocket and wondering how they would now be paying the bills they are facing (and knowing they can’t simply walk away from them as Zuzanna has happily done).

Big warning then: if you see sometime Art Director Zuzanna Skurtys walking towards you with a ready smile and the offer of work any time soon – you’d be well advised to turn on your heel and walk rapidly in the opposite direction.

If you want to get paid for your work, that is. Prospective clients – please take note too!

The Return. Holiday pay.

A message to anyone who worked on the Bollywood movie The Return, production manager Karishma Bangera. It is very likely that you are owed unclaimed holiday pay if you worked on this production, which you can claim now.

The contracts that were issued by Filmcard Motion Pictures or Sumo Films (Surabhi Bhatnagar) incorrectly suggested that holiday entitlement due on the pay that you received would be rolled up/included in the rate for the work. This is not permissible under UK employment law and as such, you have probably been underpaid by around 10.77% of the total pay you received.

After some pressure was applied, several freelancers have now been paid this entitlement so it is well worth claiming yours from that production.

A number of people who worked on this film also had great difficulties getting the pay they were owed. If that includes you, or you would like help claiming your unpaid holiday pay, feel free to get in touch.

2020 Grierson DocLab training programme open for applications

The 2022 Grierson DocLab training programme is now in its 10th year and is currently open for applications.

The scheme supports 12 successful applicants aged 18-25 & based in the UK taking their first steps in factual TV/documentary jobs. They’re looking for applicants who are keen to learn about the different behind the scenes roles in the industry, from editorial to production management – as well as people who have fresh perspectives and ideas on what they can contribute to the sector.

They especially welcome applications from those currently under-represented in the industry (those from an ethnic minority background, from the LGBTQ+ community, those with a disability, people from a lower socio-economic background, from outside London and more). 

Trainees will get intensive training, an industry mentor match, a bursary-supported work placement, support with continuing professional development, a pass to Sheffield Doc/Fest, CV help and much more.

The deadline for applications is Fri, 11 Feb at 5pm and you can get in touch to know more about accessibility requirements and reasonable adjustments for applying.

There is also a webinar on Weds, 26 Jan with five of our recent alumni who will answer questions about their experience of the scheme.

You can find more info on the website or on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn.

Production Executive job.

STV Studios are currently recruiting for a 12 month fixed term Production Exec/Line Producer role based in London (or Glasgow) for a High End TV Drama. 

Location: 12-month fixed term position, Glasgow or London based

​Are you an experienced Production Executive or Line Producer with a depth of knowledge and skills in high end drama production?

Key responsibilities

Reporting to the Chief Operating Officer and Creative Director of Drama, the Production Executive will oversee STV Studios’ slate of drama productions.
Oversee productions from greenlight to full delivery.
Prepare production schedules and programme budgets to enable delivery on time and within finance plan.
Ensure productions adhere to requisite processes and procedures, including submission of necessary permissions and risk assessments required for filming, and completion of post production paperwork.
Manage the process of engaging staff and freelance talent, including developing a diverse database of production crews, undertaking interviews and ensuring contractual paperwork is completed in a timely manner, in accordance with current legislation.
Oversee development of new training initiatives within the drama department and on specific productions.
Cost report management and monitoring production spending, liaising with production finance as required to ensure cash flow is appropriately managed and reconciled.
Work collaboratively with Executive Producers, Producers, Production Managers and senior production staff to examine scripts and/or programme ideas and troubleshoot productions, providing support and guidance to resolve and overcome challenges.
Monitor productions for consistency in rates and best practice, keeping up to date with industry standard practice and guidelines.
Support the Head of Development in drawing up development budgets, and liaise with Broadcasters on development agreements.
Assist with commercial negotiations as required by the Chief Operating Officer.
Assist in any other aspects of the work of the Company as reasonably required.

Skills and Experience

A strong track-record as a Production Executive/senior-level Line Producer of high-quality UK drama, and be skilled at production management, budgeting and cost reporting.
Up to date understanding of governing legislation and guidelines for employment, HMRC, TV and Film guidelines, equity, PACT, environment, health and safety.
Excellent working knowledge of Movie Magic and MS Office including strong Excel skills, and ability to analyse financial information.
An established network of industry contacts and trusted supplier relationships.
A confident approach to decision making and the ability to work both autonomously and collaboratively as required within a busy production environment.
Excellent communication, interpersonal, organisation and problem solving skills.


There are plenty of reasons why it’s great to work at STV, here are just a few of the perks for you;
25 days paid annual leave and 9 public holidays per annum, with the option to buy more through our Holiday Extras scheme.
An extra day’s holiday on your birthday.
Healthcare cash plan providing Company contributions towards dental, optical, wellbeing or other healthcare costs.
Company pension contribution.
Cycle to work scheme.
Season ticket travel loan.
On-site occupational health service.
Flexible benefits portal providing a range of retail and gym discounts.
We’re happy to talk about hybrid working to help you balance work, life, and to achieve your goals in both – we’re focused on creating an inclusive working environment where colleagues can collaborate, create and thrive to deliver results and perform at their best.

Closing date: 19 January 2021

STV is committed to increasing the diversity of its workforce and to equality of opportunity for all. We encourage applications from candidates currently under-represented in our industry, so we are keen to hear from people from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background, disabled and/or neuro diverse people and those from a lower socio-economic background.

As a Disability Confident employer, we are committed to offering an interview to disabled candidates who meet the minimum criteria for the role.

Further detail can be found here Careers – STV plc

A great opportunity if you are interested in a career in Production Management.

Production secretary training programme for unscripted TV.

Production management offers an exciting career path in TV and high levels of employability. The production secretary holds a dynamic and interesting entry-level role which requires key skills and industry training.

This programme has been created for individuals in the early stages of their career who are ready to take the next step and focus on developing a career in production management in unscripted television exclusively.

Successful applicants will receive:

  • Seven days of intensive fast track training delivered online by the BBC Academy and industry experts. This training will provide a comprehensive overview of the production secretary role in unscripted television, including working on documentaries, entertainment, live studio and location filming
  • Three months paid work placement in an independent production company
  • Industry networking event on the final evening of training

ScreenSkills will match participants on placements. 

Application deadline is Friday 14 January 2022 with training due to take place 7 – 15 March 2022

Who it’s for

This programme is for individuals with a strong interest in production management who are at the beginning of their career in unscripted television. 

It is an opportunity for those with no more than a year’s experience, who are already working in, or are keen to work in, unscripted television, and are ready to take the next step and focus on developing a career in production management. 

This is not an opportunity to work in scripted television or to develop an editorial career as a researcher, assistant producer or producer-director.

Please note this application is open to people based across the UK. Placements will be secured for those selected based on their current location.

What it covers

This fast-track intensive training delivered by industry experts will cover:

  • budgeting and scheduling
  • setting up locations shoots in UK and rest of world
  • planning and setting up a studio shoot
  • mental health awareness
  • health and safety
  • negotiation skills
  • post-production workflow
  • rights and clearances
  • key production paperwork
  • technical kit and technology

Unique to the industry, this programme also offers a three month, individually matched paid work placement to consolidate the training. This bespoke opportunity ensures that all successful candidates are ready to step into a role as a production secretary on completion of the programme.

How to apply

Click the ‘Apply now’ button on this page. You will need to create and be logged into your ScreenSkills profile.

  • Delegates will be selected using a blind process and will only be judged on their answers to the application form questions.
  • For the initial selection, CVs will not be looked at, so please make the answers in your application as full and reflective of your skills and experience as possible.
  • Please upload an up-to-date CV – this will be referred to if shortlisted for interview.

In order to apply you should meet the following criteria:

  • You must have a demonstrable interest in and passion for unscripted TV
  • An understanding of the role of a Production Secretary and a clear sense of where you’d like your career in production management to take you 
  • Between a month and a year’s experience working in TV – employed or as part of work experience placements
  • You must want to pursue a career specifically in production management in unscripted television. This is not an opportunity work in scripted television or to develop an editorial career as a researcher, assistant producer or producer-director.
  • You must have proven organisational, team working and scheduling skills, please outline this experience in your application
  • You must be able to attend all seven days of training
  • You must be able to work on a three month (paid) placement local to you
  • You must have the right to work in the UK
  • You are able to attend an interview online on one of Monday 14th, Tuesday 15th or Wednesday 16th February 2022

This programme is supported by the ScreenSkills Television Skills Fund which invests in training for the freelance television workforce thanks to contributions from the BBC, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

Any questions? Ask Claire:

Soho Staff and their holiday pay policy. Roxanne Peterson.

There used to be a company which went by the name of Soho Runners. As befits the name, it supplied runners to various facility companies in Soho.

This company became somewhat notorious for avoiding paying holiday pay to the Runners it employed by failing to pay their statutory entitlement as a matter of course, but by instead relying on freelancers to make a separate claim in order to secure it (and not taking any steps to remind them to do so).

Not only that, but they had a cut off date of the end of the year by which claims could be made so if you forgot about your legal right to the payment or simply omitted to claim it at the time, come the end of the year the company could keep all that lovely 10.77% for themselves.


The individual who ran Soho Runners was Roxanne Peterson and she has now been recruited by the company set up in its place, Soho Staff. And it seems that bad habit has followed her to the new company as exactly the same policy has been adopted by Soho Staff for all the runners it now uses.

I asked Soho Staff whether they paid holiday pay after each booking of every Runner but they were somewhat coy in their response, refusing to explicitly say what they did. Fortunately there are enough Runners in the industry with their ear to the ground (and who are not happy with the way they have been treated by Soho Staff) to share details of their practices with me.

And this is what they reveal. When someone works for this company, in order to get paid they have to fill in a timesheet in order to get paid. Columns for Start Time, Lunchtime duration and End Time, all as expected. But wait – what’s this? – no column to claim your Holiday Pay, in fact no mention of it on the form at all!! The only way to get it it seems, is to manufacture a separate invoice and put that in. Fail to do that and bye bye holiday pay.

If anyone has worked for that particular company at any point during the last year do absolutely get an invoice in for the holiday pay they are making no effort to pay you. You earned it, you are owed it and there is absolutely no reason why you should not get it.

And if you’re a Runner in the industry, do of course join the Facebook Runners page, where all jobs are free to apply to, no-one makes any money out of you and every single employer pays holiday pay – and wants you to have it.

Mohit Chhabra

Another producer for freelancers to avoid is Mohit Chhabra. He is, or at least as he claims his friends describe him, a “Movie Buff, Witty & Wise (with a) go getter attitude”

That may (or may not) be what his friends say but those who have had a professional relationship with Mr Chhabra – and have failed to be paid for their work – are more likely to concentrate on a range of other, more earthy words when they describe their feelings about him.

That failure to pay workers (on the Bollywood Film “The Return“) should be sufficient warning to all freelancers that trusting Mr Chhabra to meet his obligations once filming has been completed is not a wise course to take. Asking, begging, imploring and demanding the pay and expenses that are owed to them have proved to have had little effect and legal claims are now in the pipeline for people to secure what they are owed.

So a warning: the best way to avoid being yet another one of his debtors is to take a very wide berth around any offer of work that Mr Chhabra may present in the future.

As he says on his Starnow page, “I aspire to be a star, a superstar and rule the world of cinema and entertainment one day. It’s never too late, Yes I want to make it big and yeah I even have my 1st award speech ready in my head already” .

Fond hopes. The first step along that road could usefully be to make some amends to the freelancers who trusted that he would behave professionally and pay his bills.

Global TV, holiday pay and the tax treatment of runners.

Global describes itself as “one of the world’s leading media and entertainment groups”, often recruiting production staff to make its shows. It recently took on a runner who found that, rather than the company adding holiday pay to the rate agreed, claimed that it had been “inclusive” in the rate, despite the clear and unequivocal guidance on the website that “an employer cannot include an amount for holiday pay in the hourly rate (known as ‘rolled-up holiday pay’)”.

This guidance is not new, and not difficult to find. Why then is Global effectively reducing a freelancer’s rate by trying to smuggle that holiday pay into the rate agreed? The company also suggested that the runner could be treated as self employed despite it- again on all official sources – being very clear that it is not permissible to treat Runners in this way.

I asked Anna-Maria Gilbert, the Senior Production Manager responsible for this, whether Global always treats runners as PAYE and never as self employed, as well as always paying holiday pay over and above the rate agreed, but she was unable to say. Further questions to the company also went unanswered.

If you have not been paid your holiday pay over and above the rate agreed, or if you have worked as a runner and Global has treated you as self employed, please feel free to get in touch. All freelancers should of course be wary of taking work with any company who does either of these things.