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: Monday 2nd November
On Saturday 31 October Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a month-long national lockdown for England to commence on Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December. The intention of this lockdown is to manage COVID19 infection rates whilst enabling "work" activity to continue - including COVID-secure film and television production.
As set out on GOV.UK, workers who cannot work from home should go to their place of work. This means that even in these circumstances film and television production can continue as long as productions operate in a COVID-secure manner. Therefore, by following the approved COVID-19 guidance highlighted below, Film and TV production will be able to continue in the Capital until further notice.
As the approved COVID19 guidance highlights, 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.
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 Service Opening Dates 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 on the 31st October 2020 of a month-long national lockdown for England to commence on Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December, cinemas will be required to close again ceasing all in person screenings. You canfind 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.
For when cinema’s reopen - Keeping workers and customers safe
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.
Film Hub London has allocated emergency funding to independent film exhibitors, representing diverse audiences across the capital, through the BFI FAN COVID-19 Resilience Fund. £105,750 of National Lottery funding through the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN), and a £150,000 contribution from the Mayor of London’s Culture at Risk Business Support Fund, has been made available to provide grants to those in critical financial need as they continue to face closure and uncertainty.
London’s independent venues, cinemas and festivals make a significant contribution to the capital’s cultural and economic life, regularly engaging a wide-ranging audience with diverse programmes. This fund acknowledges the importance of London's independent exhibitors as a vital part of the economic ecosystem of the industry, as well as community hubs where Londoners can come together and celebrate stories that reflect our lives on screen.
We are pleased to be able to support a diverse range of London’s exhibitors to open their doors again when the time is right, and maintain connections with the local communities they serve and reflect. Together with partners we must ensure that they are still here when these difficult times are over.
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 Monday 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.
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