UK Screen Alliance (www.ukscreenalliance.co.uk) has published “Guidance for safe working in Post-Production and Visual Effects during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” created in consultation with companies from the post and VFX sectors, several U.S. studios, industry bodies British Film Institute, British Film Commission, Pact and BECTU, and the U.K. government.
The U.K.’s post-production and VFX sectors normally turnover in excess of £2 billion (~$2.5B USD)per year and employ more than 17,000 people.
Post-production and VFX companies have not been required to close during the lockdown, allowing them to continue by using a combination of working from home via remotely connected equipment or social distancing measures for the few operations that need to be performed on-premises. However, while these companies had work in their pipelines at the point of lockdown, demand for their services has dropped drastically and has now almost dried up, as the filming of new material has been halted by the pandemic since late February.
Fundamental to getting work flowing back into post-production and VFX companies is to get filming restarted. Separate guidance is also published today for “Working Safely During COVID-19 in Film and High-end TV Drama Production” which has been developed by the British Film Commission (BFC) and will pave the way to a return to filming in the U.K.’s studios and locations.
The release of the guidance was welcomed by Rt. Hon. Oliver Dowden CBE MP, Secretary of State for Digital Culture Media and Sport: “The U.K. is recognized around the globe as a brilliant place to make films, and is home to the world’s best film and high-end TV talent. We’ve worked hard to support the industry through these difficult times, and I’m delighted we’ve been able to agree this step forward towards getting the cameras rolling safely again.”
“The combined launch of detailed guidance for filming and for post-production is a significant indication that the U.K.’s film & TV’s industry is proactively making itself open for business,” said Neil Hatton, CEO, UK Screen Alliance. “Post-production and VFX never closed. The guidance for post & VFX will be a living document; currently a statement of current best practice, and it will evolve into a route map back to on premises working whilst ensuring the safety of our employees, contractors and clients.”
Post-production and VFX are highly competitive sectors, and commercial pressures are exceptionally high, but UK Screen Alliance contends that companies must never compete on their acquiescence to compromise the health and safety of their staff or clients. Their guidance aims to define industry-accepted best practice, reduce confusion, and give consistency across the sector, thereby lessening the pressure on employers to accept external demands for modes of working which could be considered unsafe for workers or visitors.
“The industry is extremely keen to restart production as soon as possible, but not without a comprehensive road map for how to do it safely while the threat of COVID-19 still looms large. Today’s Guidance provides that reassurance, reflecting the latest Government, technical and medical advice available. We will also update it on a regular basis, giving clarity on the latest measures recommended to ensure a safe shoot for cast, crew and the wider public,” commented BFC Chief Executive Adrian Wootton OBE. “This is a vital step to getting our world class film and high-end TV sector back up and running, giving the world confidence we have the most rigorous safety measures in place, and signalling that our sector is ready to return to full strength, and to making its important contribution to the U.K. Exchequer.”
Several executive leaders of major U.K. post and VFX studios voiced their support for the new guidelines:
“This document, by the UK Screen Alliance, is a major contribution to getting our community back to work in a safe and productive environment. The speed and contribution from all parts of our sector shows commitment and solidarity at the same scale as the world class standards we all operate at.”
— Sir William Sargent, CEO, Framestore
“The BFC’s COVID-19 recovery Production Guidance and UK Screen Alliance’s Post and VFX Guidance provide the industry with a framework under which it can re-open for business. The speed and thoroughness with which these guidelines have been produced demonstrates the extraordinary level of cohesion and integration found in the U.K.’s screen sector.”
— Alex Hope OBE, Co-Founder, DNEG
“Gorilla TV welcomes this industry guidance from UK Screen Alliance and is pleased to add our endorsement to this comprehensive document. Although Gorilla has remained operational throughout this crisis, a staggered ‘return to work’ brings its own challenges which can be managed through use of this guide which we hope will help bring a level of normality to our Industry in the future.”
— Rich Moss, MD, Gorilla TV
“It is essential we do not lose the creative collaborative environments we had pre-COVID-19. This guidance will advise you on how to apply government advice and bring safety into your office environments.”
— Lucy Ainsworth Taylor, CEO, Bluebolt
“I’ve been very concerned that everyone returning to work feels as safe as they possibly can. Even if the risks are low, employees and clients may well be anxious. UK Screen Alliance’s efforts in the creation of this guidance go a long way in providing this reassurance that our industry is getting back to work while taking the right steps for the health and well-being of everyone.”
— David Klafkowski, CEO, The Farm Group