A new model proposing shorter hours in the U.K. screen industry is garnering industry support.
Bectu Vision, a Scottish screen skills training body affiliated with crew union Bectu, together with flexible-working experts Timewise have completed an in-depth study assessing the financial implications of shorter working days in scripted drama production. BBC and Screen Scotland, who backed the study, are now considering its findings.
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Titled “Designing a blueprint for a shorter working day in film and scripted drama,” it has found that most respondents, including producers, writers, actors and crew, believe the long hours in production are “unsustainable” and causing many skilled workers to leave the industry, contributing to the crew shortage.
The study – which looked at crew working 8-hour days as opposed to the standard ten – assessed the knock-on effects on costs and schedules. The results found that overall production costs would only increase by an estimate 4% if production schedules were extended to factor in a shorter working day.
It also found that more care was needed earlier in the pipeline, particularly during commissioning and pre-production, to ensure the schedules can remain time-efficient. One example was earlier scripts.
Bectu Vision and Timewise are now recommending a trial production with shorter days to test their theory. Timewise has previously brought in similar initiatives in a range of industries previously thought to be incapable of flexibility, including teaching, construction and nursing.
“I am one of the thousands of people who had to walk away from a career in TV and film after starting a family,” said Timewise co-founder Emma Stewart. “It led me to found Timewise – and I am determined to make a difference for the next generation of talent.”
“We have to face facts: current working patterns mean we slam the door in the face of inclusion. You instantly lose people with family commitments, caring duties, and the need to balance anything else in life. The irony? Our dynamic creative sector thrives on diversity and the art of the possible. We are the experts at imagination and making dreams come true. It will cost a production just 4% more, to create a better work life balance for staff. It is a price worth paying.”
Amy Shaw, co-manager of Bectu Vision, added: “We’re really excited to be able to present evidence based on production and crew insights to help find solutions to the long working hours problem that has plagued the industry for so long. This work will be critical to moving the industry forward in how it approaches the issue and in creating a healthier, happier and more sustainable working environment for all film and TV freelancers.”
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