Like many of the UK’s economic sectors, COVID-19 and the restrictions put in place to combat it risk profound and potentially long-lasting impacts on film and TV production.
As the Government refines its policies to support businesses, employees and the self-employed during this time, Film London has been extremely active in highlighting industry-specific concerns back to the Government. We have also circulated information to our partners and stakeholders on the range of support schemes available, pressing, wherever appropriate, for further clarification on guidelines relating to these schemes.
But we are well-aware of the toll the lockdown restrictions are taking on the industry. Production has completely halted. The pipeline for Post and VFX work is also tapering off. To restart production, which will in turn drive activity to the supporting disciplines, there will need to be modifications to the way film and TV shows are made. Adrian Wootton states “while the ideal would be for production to start again as soon as it is safe to do so, that timetable is up to the Government. But we need to be ready to restart as soon as the restrictions are lifted”.
Film London and our partners are now looking towards how we can get our industry back up and running again as soon, but also as safely, as possible. The British Film Commission (BFC), of which Adrian Wootton is also CEO, has convened an Inward Investment Recovery Group. Recommendations from this Group will be incorporated into the BFI’s wider COVID-19 Taskforce recommendations to Government. The BFC Recovery Group is leading on work reviewing methods of filming practice that include key COVID-19 safety measures. Last week, it commenced a short consultation for industry partners and Government on a draft set of proposed protocols, or Codes of Practice, the purpose of which is to:
- Present UK Government with a comprehensive and realistic vision of how the inward investment TV and film industry can mobilise once lockdown measures are eased; and
- Provide the inward investment TV and film industry with a framework to enable mobilisation in a co-ordinated and, above all, safe manner as soon as it is appropriate to do so.
Working to align with the latest Government and Public Health authority guidance, the draft Code of Practice and protocols cover best practice on set, insurance, risk, liability, medical advice, travel and more. Adrian Wootton elaborates:
“We are working with Government and industry to develop a set of protocols that address the Government’s five tests, and are ongoing, adjustable, pragmatic and common-sense, with proposals scalable to be as relevant to a domestic TV drama as to a major US studio feature. That will allow the film and TV industry to get back up and shooting as soon as safely possible, and playing its part in restoring the health of the UK economy”.
Film London is represented on the BFC Recovery Group and, with other UK nations and regions, has been working specifically on the ‘Locations’ element of the draft Protocols.
Film London will review and translate the BFC COVID-19 draft Production Protocols to ensure they can be used for all types of filming in London. As such, we have invited our Filming Partnership Executive Task Force members to be part of a Working Party to review the BFC COVID-19 guidance over the coming weeks, and ahead of the consultation closing date of Friday 15 May. We will publish the final guidance in coming weeks on the Film London website.