Prioritising Mental health & wellbeing for crews

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Jack Strickland
Published June 06
4 min read
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Mental health is in crisis in our industry. All stakeholders, operators, producers must step up and seize the initiative in rectifying this - With HOP taking big steps as part of our masterplan to enhance the daily lives of crew on site.

“Everyone [in film production] is working under pressure. Everyone has to get their jobs done quickly and the set turned around quickly. The priority is being ready to shoot. Everything else is secondary to that.” Production studio source (1)

Film and TV studios are some of the most exciting places to work in any industry - Places of pure creativity, in which every person working at a location has a key role to play in turning out a piece of art that will likely be enjoyed - Especially in our digital age - By people around the world. At the last BFI estimate there were around 91,000 people in the UK film industry, a number which has doubled in the last 10 years.

Production schedules are demanding, however, and crews are often placed under huge strain in the course of their work. Days are long and, conditions can be grueling  often inhospitable. Projects face the growing pressure of eroding budgets, whilst unforeseen delays ramp up the intensity yet further as deadlines remain unmoved, required to be fulfilled - Come what may.

A survey commissioned by the Film and TV Charity in 2020, entitled The Looking Glass gathered information from around 9,000 industry professionals, drawing on an evidence review, workforce survey, 30 qualitative interviews and consultations via an industry forum. The statistics produced show the reasons that we must do better to protect crews as they carry out their work:

  • 55% of film and TV workers surveyed have contemplated suicide, compared with a national average of 20%, while one in 10 have attempted suicide, compared to a 7% national average. Meanwhile, film and TV professionals are three times as likely to self-harm than the national average.
  • One in eight working in excess of 60 hours per week, compared with one in 50 in other industries – as well as 78% of respondents struggling to achieve a healthy work-life balance, compared to 27% in other industries.
  • 84% of film and TV professionals say they have experienced or witnessed bullying or harassment at work.

The findings prompted executives from across the production spectrum to contribute £2.5 million ($3.2 million) to a two-year action plan entitled The Whole Picture Program - Our industry knows that things need to change, but what else can be done?

HOP are building our concept around cast and crew welfare. High-spec facilities look great and create better outcomes, but the people required to make this happen are just as important. We are taking positive and decisive steps to improve the working lives of those on our site.

Our facilities are drawn within a campus, meaning that everything is within easy reach and the various areas can be accessed quickly and easily. We know from our research and experience that accessibility is of vital importance when imagining the ‘perfect’ studio - The concept has been baked into all components of the masterplan and each area of the site is within reach for every visitor.

We’re also promoting a strong sense of community at our studios. Down time during a shoot is precious, so why waste it? Catering will be permanent and high-quality. Our central piazza and rural setting allows the room to breathe, to move around in a natural setting and to socialise with colleagues. We are also incorporating entertainment and, later in the delivery programme, comfortable and welcoming on-site accommodation. All of these features are intended to satisfy the idea of being at ‘Home’ - Whilst this can never be completely true, we can certainly offer as many of those comforts as possible.

Finally, and right from the birth of our HOP concept, we have made a commitment to alleviate some of the major pressures of work, and achieving work-life balance. On-site childcare is a massive factor in this, incorporated to directly tackle challenges faced in our industry of maintaining a career whilst also enjoying parenthood a role as a parent. This sits in amongst a raft of lifestyle-facing aspects of our plans, also featuring faith spaces, exercise facilities and an intelligently-planned backlot to alleviate some of the stress of an average day on site.

The HOP team sees it as our duty to take appropriate steps within our industry, and to play our part in elevating the wellbeing of our people. We can’t wait to join you in enjoying the site in Bedford.