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Absent Friends Report

Scaling the film, TV, and cinema industry’s retention problem

Improved retention could increase workforce by up to 35,000


Absent Friends Paper

With the UK Film and TV industry experiencing a production boom, it is also facing a problem of worker retention. In response to this issue, we have released a new paper, Absent Friends: Scaling the Film and TV Industry’s Retention Problem.

The paper shows that the UK Film and TV industry could have 35,000 more workers.  If the industry increased the retention of older, experienced staff this could significantly be reduced.

Retention has long been a problem for the industry:

  • Long hours of work
  • High pressure
  • Frequent travel
  • Difficulty of striking work-life balance
  • Combining family life

When women reach their mid-thirties and men a bit older, they increasingly drop out of the industry for a better-balanced lifestyle.  This retention problem has been evidenced previously by academics and highlighted by sector support bodies such as ScreenSkills and the BFI.

There has been much discussion of the retention problem. However, no one before (so far as we are aware) has put an actual number on the missing older workers. This is what we have attempted to do in the paper, for instance.

It puts the number at between 24,000 and 35,000, in an industry of just over 200,000 workers. These numbers could go a long way toward meeting the crewing needs of the production boom.

The paper complements the Charity’s other work, which includes its Whole Picture Toolkit for mentally healthy productions.

How can we work together to improve retention?

Implementing the approaches described in the Toolkit would aid retention of older, experienced workers who might otherwise burn out and leave. Our goal is to see these approaches rolled out to the whole industry, making the industry a place that is good for mental health, and enables workers to achieve a healthy work-life balance.

Download the Absent Friends Report

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