Read our thoughts on bullying and harassment behind the scenes

No one steps in, and they get away with it over and over again.” 
26 February 2020 
Lighting equipment illuminates an outdoor set with a glowing blue light. In the background is a crew member facing away, they are wearing a high-viz jacket.

Content warning

This material contains discussions of sexual assault.

People are scared to step in or speak up because of not being hired again. It is always one rule for some and another rule for others. Always.
Anonymous survey respondent

These are the words of just one of the thousands of respondents to our first Looking Glass Survey, which looked at the mental health of our workforce. 

In February 2020, the conviction of Harvey Weinstein for rape and sexual assault drew worldwide attention and generated a conversation about the experiences of people working in film and television. 

In the UK, organisations such as Time’s Up, BAFTA and the BFI had already begun spearheading work to tackle discrimination, bullying and harassment, both within our industry and more widely. 

But from reality TV to Weinstein, much of the public focus was on those in front of the camera lens. 

A camera operator on location with a shoulder-mounted rig, facing away from the camera. They are looking at the viewfinder and focusing on the subject

Support for you

If you are dealing with issues of bullying and harrassment, find out how our Bullying Advice Service could support you, or call our 24/7 Support Line to speak to someone right now.

Call 0800 054 0000

How we support the industry

At the charity we support everyone working behind the scenes in our film, TV and cinema industry: in development, on set, in post, VFX, animation, in distribution, broadcasting, marketing or in your local cinema. We are the place to turn to for many people working in our industry, who have told us about their experiences of feeling powerless and voiceless.

Through our Looking Glass research, we discovered thousands of people had experiences of being belittled and humiliated, of being afraid to speak up and afraid of losing work (Work Foundation (2020): The Looking Glass)


of women have experienced sexual harassment at work


of all workers have experience or witnessed bullying

Key stats included

  • 4 in 10 women (39%) have experienced sexual harassment at work (and also 12% of men) 
  • Two-thirds of women (67%) and half of men (50%) have experienced bullying themselves. 
  • Overall, 82% of all workers have experienced or witnessed bullying.

And freelancers were even more likely to have experienced workplace bullying or sexual harassment, compared to those in regular employment: 

  • Almost 2 in 3 freelancers (64%) have experienced bullying (compared with 46% of employees) 
  • Nearly half (45%) of female freelancers have experienced sexual harassment (compared with 34% of female employees)

What we uncovered aligned with wider research in this area, including a report published by the Women and Equalities Committee that highlights that freelancers are at greater risk of harassment. 

Power and position

We don’t have any training as managers or HR people, yet it comes as part of the job. It would be great to have support in developing us as better people managers, and to also find a way to deal with the weight of the responsibility on our shoulders.
Anonymous survey respondent

Other research into mental wellbeing at work has emphasised the role of managers in supporting workers through meaningful relationships, providing support and guidance to help people manage the demands of a role.

Where freelancing is common in areas of the film and TV industry, many people won’t have access to any traditional line-management relationship.

Why mental health?

Sexual harassment and bullying are not standalone issues – the experience is associated with a host of negative outcomes including the development of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, eating disorders, suicidality, dissociation, and high-risk sexual behaviours (see Littleton et al, 2018).

The combination of poor outcomes for bullying and harassment, alongside other issues highlighted in our research such as long hours and difficulty managing work-life balance, are putting people at risk, and create a perfect storm for poor mental health. 87% of all respondents to our survey reported having had a mental health problem.

Looking forward

The research we conducted in 2019 gave the whole industry an unequivocal evidence base on which to mount far-ranging action.

Our action plan, the Whole Picture Programme, received widespread support from leaders across the industry and secured the commitment of companies in film and TV who joined our Film and TV Taskforce on Mental Health.

Get support

If you are dealing with issues of bullying and harassment in the industry, take a look at how our Bullying Advice Service could support you.


  • Sexual assault, sexual abuse, and harassment: Understanding the mental health impact and providing care for survivors: An International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, Briefing Paper, Littleton, H., Abrahams, N., Bergman, M., Berliner, L., Blaustein, M., Cohen, J., Dworkin, E., Krahe, B., Pereda, N., Peterson, Z. and Pina, A., (2018)
  • Women and Equalities Committee (2018) Sexual Harassment in the workplace, Fifth Report of Session 2017–19
  • EHRC (2018) Turning the Tables: ending sexual harassment at work
  • The Looking Glass, the Work Foundation, 2020