A report on long hours and productivity in the UK film and TV industry
By Paul Evans and Jonathan Green

Over the past year, our freelance branches in the production sector have been in negotiations with employers about terms and conditions for workers on major motion pictures and TV drama. We have many members working on commercials, factual and entertainment TV, promos, lower budget films and other kinds of production.
Perhaps the biggest concerns that we hear from these branches are around the hours that they work. Our research has turned up some shocking stories. The long-hour culture damages family lives and causes ill health while doing the industry no good. I have spoken to workers in location-based prep-and-wrap departments – location managers, assistant directors, workers in hair and make-up and costume and wardrobe – who say they regularly work 18-hour days.
The treadmill isn’t just confined to shooting locations. Our members working as editors, VFX artists or in the art department also report preposterous working schedules. This is a creative industry. It relies on innovative and imaginative thinking. If we run it as a treadmill, we will destroy the longterm future of a vital sector.
This shouldn’t just worry management in the audio-visual industries: it should also bother the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Our members – particularly women – are telling us of plans to leave an industry desperate for more capacity. The UK economy has never been as reliant on high-skilled film and TV workers as it is today – and many of them are working below-par because of this counterproductive industry culture. A well-managed industry can achieve just as much without demoralising its workers. This report argues that the industry’s long-hours culture is unnecessary. It calls on employers to invest in management practices that will improve working conditions.
I am calling on the Advertising Producers Association, the British Film Council, BBC, Channel 4, Directors UK, ITV, the major motion picture studios, PACT and Sky to join BECTU in establishing a new commission to address the industry’s management practices. I hope all parts of the industry will work with us to make this sector more humane, efficient and productive.
Gerry Morrissey – Head of BECTU



Media Partners