Experienced or witnessed bullying?

The Film and TV Charity have a new initiative which is really useful for everyone in the industry to know about.

If you’ve experienced or witnessed bullying, please check their recently launched Bullying Pathway Services, which you can access here

It includes a secure, anonymous place to record your experiences and access to two free sessions with an advisor on your next best steps.

There’s also a 24/7 Support Line to help you from legal advice to financial aid and even to supporting your mental wellbeing with free counselling sessions.

The Support Line is open, even if you just need a chat. You can call on 0800 054 0000 or use the chat service on www.filmtvcharity.org.uk.

Your Cinema. Pierre Godson-Amamoo. AVOID!

Anyone who has dropped in on these pages over the past few years know how we at the Watercooler feel about sites that charge for access to jobs in our industry.

Having to pay for the right to apply for work is clearly something which should not be happening in any area of work, and particularly loathsome when it becomes an embedded feature in an industry which has significant issues in terms of access for less well represented groups. Having to pay to play is something that clearly discriminates against those who are less wealthy and as such we will always call out those companies who leech off our industry in that way.

So here we go again – and this one is a particularly scummy example in the pond where these leeches lurk. The site in question is Your Cinema, set up and run by an individual called Pierre Godson-Amamoo. On his pages he hosts a large number of job adverts, almost all of which are hidden by a paywall for his “Gold” and “Silver” members

There are of course laws which cover who can and cannot legitimately be charged a fee for work finding services, but even leaving that aside there are two features of that site which are particular loathsome .

The first is that a huge number of those jobs which Mr Amamoo wants you to pay for are actually completely unpaid. Yes – you are paying for the right to apply for unpaid work.

You don’t discover that until you’ve actually paid your fee of course but that’s the nasty surprise waiting for you around about the time that he is trousering your cash and wondering what tasty bauble he can spend it on.

The second nastiness about that site is that a number of these adverts aren’t actually exclusive in any way – they very often appear on free to use sites so you are paying simply for the right to apply through his site. AND – guess what – Mr Anamoo hasn’t always actually been given those job adverts by the employer themselves, he’s simply scalped them from the internet and reposted them behind his paywall! (as confirmed by one employer who discovered this).

Enough reasons then to justify the firm warning at the top of this page. Think bargepole and wide berths.

AVOID.

Crackerjack Film Fund 2021.

Another set up which has emerged to snaffle some of your cash is the “Crackerjack Film Fund 2021“, which to all intents and purposes looks like a site where eager filmmaking applicants can apply for grant money

Kickstart your career” it says. “In our search to find emerging new talent, we are giving away £30,000 this year“.

Worth having – and the site has a seductive countdown clock on it, suggesting that you might want to get a move on and pay up before it gets to zero.

However caution is the watchword here as this apparent largesse is not quite the giveaway it seems as, buried in the application process, there is a button marked “submit £20“.

A lottery in other words. You pay the money, you might win a “Grand Prize of £10,000”. Well yes, you might.

Efforts to reach the “Crackerjack Fund” have produced no response. They also have no presence on Companies House and nothing to say who they are on their website or anywhere else to be found.

Big Capital Letters then: AVOID!

Free animation course for 13-18 year olds.

Great new opportunity from Screenskills for would-be young animators.

3Dami: after-school 3D animation club

Over a ten-week after-school club, successful applicants will be introduced to the concepts and practice of 3D animation using Blender with a combination of teaching, project work, and feedback from peers and staff. On week ten, you will have the chance to showcase your achievements to your friends and family, and you will end the course with a selection of work to use in support of future applications.

The workshop will run (TBC) on a weekday evening, from 6pm to 8pm from 19th April 2021 to 2nd July 2021 with a break over half-term holidays. Week beginning 5th July will be our showcase and celebration evening. Students will be expected to complete 1 hour of homework between each session to prepare for the next class.

This will be very popular – book early!

Mothers working in Unscripted – a survey

Useful and interesting piece of research here. If you fit the bill, it would be great if you could take part.

On the eve of UK schools reopening after a third national lockdown, and after more than a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Nottingham are launching a major academic research project into the impact of the pandemic on mothers working in unscripted television.

The research project Locked Down and Locked Out? The Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mothers working in the UK Television Industry was proposed by Share My Telly Job Co-Director Natalie Grant, who said: 

“It has long been known that the ‘motherhood penalty’ is very real and painfully prevalent in the TV industry. Recent research has indicated that across all industries, mums have suffered exponentially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and been disproportionately affected by job losses, the burden of home-schooling, caring for sick and elderly relatives and a lack of childcare. This research will be really important in highlighting exactly how mothers in unscripted television have been impacted and what the industry could and should be doing to support them better.”

The research is being led by the Institute for Screen Industries Research at The University of Nottingham, in partnership with SMTJ and the Telly Mums Network, and is being supported by Bectu. Leading on the research is Professor Helen Kennedy who said:

“The pandemic has revealed longstanding weaknesses in the way we as a society organise childcare and employment, and this is particularly true in industries like TV where work cultures, practices and attitudes place many barriers to equal participation for mothers. This research presents a unique opportunity to understand how women’s caring responsibilities intersect with demographic, spatial and structural inequalities in order to inform better policy and practice responses towards a more equitable post- COVID future.”

Cheryl Woodcock, founder of Telly Mums Network said:

“Since Telly Mums Network launched in April 2019, the message has been loud and clear from our community: telly mums need support. Combining a career in television with motherhood has always presented enormous challenges but the additional pressures of the past year have left many women feeling that it is entirely untenable. This research is so important, and the industry must take note of what is happening to a really valuable section of our workforce, and act to avoid further talent drain.”

Head of Bectu, Philippa Childs said:

“Existing research tells us that working mothers encounter systemic disadvantages in terms of pay, perceived competence and benefits, and that in the TV industry there exists a disproportionate rate of exit for women over 35. We also know from last year’s FTVC report that the industry was already in the midst of a mental health crisis prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. This research will be crucial in understanding how mothers in the industry have been affected over the last 12 months and Bectu are very pleased to be supporting this vital work.”

To participate in the survey please follow this link.

The survey is open to all mothers working in unscripted television and a full report will be published later this year.

Alex Macaulay. Blackbull Lighting for Film, Television and Video.

Another company and individual for freelancers to take a wide berth around – Alex Macaulay and his company Blackbull Lighting for Film, Television and Video, formerly based at 3 Mills Studios.

Mr Macaulay, sometime gaffer/lighting technician seems happy enough to employ freelancers but not quite so keen when it comes to actually putting his hand in his pocket to pay for the services he has had. He now has a CCJ lodged against his name but that might well not stop him from doing more of the same in the future.

Freelancers beware.

Peter Wilson. Nouveau Media

A firm warning for anyone who is considering working for an individual called Peter Wilson (also known as “Vladimir Wilson“). Nouveau Media is a company he set up to make a pilot show (“Students”) which failed to pay numerous freelancers who worked on the production.

It seems that Mr Wilson has walked away from his commitments on this one but caution should be exercised by all freelancers if he decides to set up under a new name and have another go in the future, which apparently is his plan.

With his record, it is probably best all round if he detached himself from any media ventures in the future.

Spoke TV/Northern Dragon Media. Andy Lewis

This company (in production of a YouTube series, Shaun & Bez: Call The Cops) is currently unwilling or unable to pay the freelancers who work on its shows.

Caution should be taken if embarking on any financial relationship with this company or individual – if you work for this set up, you may well end up unpaid!

Blink Productions – found guilty of not paying the minimum wage.

An update on a company which recently featured on the Watercooler, Blink Productions, run by Paul Weston and based in Wardour Street (not to be confused with the very reputable Blink Films).

After hearing complaints from a number of people who had been used for unpaid work experience at the company, it was suggested that a good way forward might be for people to make a complaint to HMRC about failure to pay the National Minimum Wage where it was due.

And it seems that that is exactly what did happen as it has now been confirmed that the company was paid a visit by the inspectors – who then found cause to investigate further.

After some rigorous digging through the books the results of that investigation are now in: that Blink was indeed not paying people what they were legally required to do and have now been made to cough up the arrears to those workers.

So a deserved smack on the wrists for that company – and a timely reminder that companies who do this kind of thing can be pursued and can be made to do what every other decent company does: pay at least the minimum to those who sit at the bottom rung of the work ladder .

Well done to those who brought the complaint – and if anyone hears of this company doing it again, do get in touch…