Ofcom recently proposed new rules to protect participants in reality formats. However, we believe that, as an industry, we need to turn our attention to the 180,000 workers who are the lifeblood of this industry in the UK. A growing proportion of the film and TV workforce is self-employed or freelance and, in many ways, it is the original ‘gig economy’.
In our submission we referenced a recent report produced by Dart Centre Europe, which drew on 22 interviews with TV producers and representatives of stakeholder organisations. The report found that the inherent issues of working with vulnerable contributors were compounded by the unique ‘working culture’ of TV; and the way in which the power structure of the industry, the way that film sets, TV sets and TV programming works, can lend itself to abuses of power.
These same issues appear in our own findings from The Looking Glass and, combined with limited job security, extreme work intensity and difficulty managing work/life balance, we believe that those working in the film and TV industry can be uniquely vulnerable.
Despite the obvious fact that a well workforce is crucial to the creative and commercial success of the UK’s thriving film and TV sector, we believe that mental health has been ignored as a serious issue for the industry in the UK.
Through our Film and TV Support Line we hear the stories of stress, hardship and difficulty for thousands of people who have nowhere else to turn. We hear about the impact of viewing traumatic footage in a newsroom editing suite; of looking after contributors; of a 40-hour shift without sleep. And the trend for intense and irregular work is only set to increase – with a human cost.
We are looking forward to sharing the outcomes of the research with the whole industry.
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The Film and TV Support Line is free, confidential, and available 24/7 for issues big or small: 0800 054 00 00