COVID-19 and the lockdown restrictions put in place to combat it risk profound and potentially long-lasting impacts on film and TV production and exhibition.
Film London has been extremely active in highlighting industry-specific concerns to Government, as it developed and refined its policies to support businesses, employees and the self-employed during this time.
But we are well-aware of the toll the lockdown restrictions are taking on the industry and are focused on recovery. We have been working with the British Film Commission, as part of the wider BFI-led COVID-19 Screen Sector Task Force, to get our industry back up and running as soon – and safely – as possible.
Industry Update – Tuesday 5th January
On Monday 4th January Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a national lockdown for England, which is expected to last until at least the middle of February, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
While this introduces additional restrictions, particularly in social settings, work activity is permitted to continue – including COVID-secure film and television production. By continuing to follow the approved COVID-19 guidance highlighted below, Film and TV production will be able to continue in the Capital and locations can continue to accommodate shoots and recces that are carried out in-line with the guidance.
As highlighted by Government guidance businesses that have otherwise had to close to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, are permitted to remain open “for the purposes of film”
Legislation states restrictions “do not prevent the use of…
· any premises used for the making of a film, television programme, audio programme or audio-visual advertisement”
It is essential that all filming activity is carried out in a COVID secure manner and that industry guidance is rigorously adhered to. As the approved COVID-19 guidance highlight, productions should allow sufficient time to plan shoots to ensure that they can film in a COVID-secure environment.
Productions also have a duty to check the specifics of any local restrictions where they are working, if elsewhere in England, or in the devolved nations and regions.
Any further amendments to guidelines will be highlighted on this section of the Film London website, so please check regularly for updates.
In collaboration with the London Filming Partnership, Film London have created guidance for crews filming in public spaces in London during the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 Guidance provides a checklist of actions for crews to take to ensure that they operate within government guidelines and mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19 when on location.
This guidance provides a temporary annex to the established Location Filming in London Code of Practice.
This guidance also compliments the following industry guides:
Film London will update the COVID-19 Guidance according to any relevant changes in government guidelines.
Additional resources to assist productions during the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 Borough Film Services Update highlights London boroughs that are open and dates for re-opening of those that are currently closed. It also includes information on parking, highways and Child Performance Licensing and will be updated regularly.
The COVID-19 Filming Resource List provides details of companies who offer COVID-19 specific services to film and TV productions including health and safety advisors, medical advisors, COVID-19 equipment and resources and cleaning companies. It also lists organisations currently providing COVID-19 training.
ScreenSkills is the industry-led skills and training body for the UK’s screen industries. It has launched free online training in basic coronavirus awareness to support the BFC and TV production guidance. To take the training, go to: Coronavirus basic awareness on production training
ScreenSkills will also run online workshops using practical experience and case studies to help explain how productions have interpreted and used the BFC and TV guidance to get back to filming. Further information can/will be found on the ScreenSkills website and social media.
In light of the government's announcement of national lockdown on the 4th January, cinemas will be required to remain closed ceasing all in venue activity until 17th May at the earliest. You can find further information on the UK Government website. For the latest updates and guidance regarding the COVID-19 outbreak for exhibitors and venues please read here.
The second round of the Culture Recovery Fund for Independent Cinemas in England administered by the BFI closed on 1st February 2021. Further information is available on the BFI website.
More than 200 independent
cinemas from Penzance to Penrith have already been awarded £16m through
the first £30m round of the Fund, with further awards in progress.
Film Hub London is a vibrant, diverse network of exhibitors, including over 50 cinemas. Even while cinemas remain closed there are still lots of ways to support your local cinema. We've created a resource to help you help our members. Click here to find out ways you can support.
If you work in cinema, the current situation may be making you feel anxious. But it’s important to remember that you’re part of a creative community, and support is available. The Film & TV charity have created an important resource which centres on wellbeing for cinema workers. Speak to your employer about guidance and resources they might be able to offer. To access the resource and more information on support click here.
Cinemas – keeping workers and customers safe during COVID-19, has been produced by the UK Cinema Association in consultation with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with input from the BFI, the Independent Cinema Office and BECTU, and in consultation with Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive. The guidelines have been developed to provide a starting point for cinemas across the UK in ensuring the continued safety of both audiences and staff in relation to COVID-19.
What's on at the virtual cinema
Although many venues across the country remain closed, there are plenty of ways to keep watching quality independent films from the comfort of your own home.
You can explore and watch the capital's archive film through London’s Screen Archives' extensive collection of footage - and be sure to check the Film London Twitter account every Thursday when the team pick out a ‘Film Of The Week’ to enjoy.
If you'd like to remain in contact with your local cinema, film society, film festival or programming collective, check their website and social media to see if they're hosting online viewing parties, watch-a-longs or discussions. You can also sign-up to our bi-weekly 'Film Events in London’ newsletter listing screening events that are now happening online.
Industry news and opportunities
Whilst the Film London office is closed we remain fully operational, continuing to deliver for the industry operating a home-working policy for all staff.
From screenings and events and filmmaking opportunities to archive news and the latest in the artist moving image world, the Film London newsletter has something for everyone. Subscribe to Film London newsletters for the latest updates.
For additional industry advice and guidance on COVID-19, please visit: www.bfi.org.uk/supporting-uk-film/covid-19-update