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For its State of Play report, Bectu heard from 1,200 people across the industry about their experiences. Here, we share just some of the responses:

Attitudes to freelancers

“I often get the impression management do not care or have time for you – you’re a freelancer, once they’re done with you and have used all your energy, you’re back on your own again . . . I’ve had series producers/execs not even bother to introduce themselves or learn my name before directly talking to me or telling me to do something.”
Assistant producer

“The lack of support, feedback and career progression possibilities have led to me wanting to leave telly many, many times over the years. In so many other industries you would have appraisals, feedback and some CPD to help develop. But as a freelancer in telly I have felt ‘on my own’ for many years.”
Senior edit producer

Mental health

“Having worked on multiple blue light series on the front line with medical staff and never been offered counselling or even spoken to about my experiences by production, I ended up paying for counselling myself as I recognised there were things I needed to address once we had wrapped.”
Producer

Bullying

“I’ve worked for an exec (now a commissioner) who used bullying tactics to over-work staff and devalue the work they did throughout the course of the production. He would boast about putting staff on his ‘blacklist’ because of seemingly unfair reasons like going onto another production when their contract had finished, instead of agreeing to an extension.”
Assistant producer

“All freelance staff are frightened of criticising the person who employs them as they know they won’t get booked again. This enables a culture of bullying and under-payment and consequent exploitation to thrive.”
Runner

Management

“There is no proper feedback process in the industry. People begin and end jobs having no idea whether they are qualified, able to do the role, have done a good/bad job, areas of improvement etc.”
Shooting assistant producer

“Earlier this year I saw a shooting PD sacked from a very low budget, very high pressure series because the exec felt he wasn’t doing a good job, but this poor man was set up to fail . . . His work actually ended up being in the final product, but it must have been a kick in the teeth for him to see . . . that he was replaced by a producer and DoP – if he had had that support in place, I’m sure he would have done a good job.”
Assistant producer

“When you sign off for a job, it’s as though your soul is theirs. There are no boundaries . . . , no separation. No structure.”
Producer/director

Working hours

“Everyone is on their knees from production managers, directors, through to runners. 12-hour days turn into 14-hour days, emails and texts fly around at 8am, 11pm, and all through the weekend. Doils [days off in lieu] can’t be taken to ensure a shoot is able to happen, and everyone just carries on, worried about creating fuss or a bad reputation.”
Shooting AP

Diversity of recruitment

“The pressure is always on to recruit very, very quickly, as budgets are so tight, production schedules are shorter and shorter, and the first weeks are totally lost in a scramble of CVs and interviews. If a colleague recommends someone you leap on it, as you are so pushed to fill all the roles and get the production moving ASAP. Clearly this does not lead to a good range of diversity in any sense.”
Executive producer

“There are trained people in the industry who know what they are doing regarding diverse recruitment, [but] we are fairly few and far between, and the speed at which we are required to recruit puts pressure to fill roles with the first good available freelancers.”
Senior producer

Welfare

“Unlike almost every other industry, we don’t teach our managers and team leaders how to manage and lead. We just throw them into the deep end, with no guidance on how to care for the welfare of the people reporting to them.”
Talent executive

Professionalising recruitment

“To give two suggestions: Talent executives at production companies need to be given proper training and shouldn’t just be former producers who think they know everything about the industry. Recruitment periods should be embedded within production schedules, to allow job opportunities to be properly advertised and open to all, as opposed to people the exec has worked with before.”
Development executive

We all need to work quickly and crew up quickly which is fine, but we also need to be more professional… We also need to introduce exit interviews at the end of contracts. Too often, job roles are all-encompassing with no idea of what you are actually accountable for or who to – even just starting with standard job specs/descriptions would be a help. I think these changes would also help open up the industry to new entrants and create a more diverse workforce which is less cliquey.”
Senior producer

Pay

“My rate is always knocked down, then adverse conditions either hidden in the contract or added as rider in email offer after acceptance e.g. reduced rate travel days, enforced breaks etc. which effectively reduce the rate at the same time as making me unavailable for other work.”
Series director

“I have been paid substantially less than under-informed, better-connected men in every single TV job over the last 20 years.”
Production engineer

“I recently had a battle on my hands for a three-week job, negotiating a rate which I reluctantly took because I’d just relocated and wanted to make a good impression. Only to be handed the budget I was working with on the first day and found it to be incredibly healthy. It started things off on the wrong foot immediately as I felt duped by the production company who had now secured my services but battered me down on my rate when they could have easily afforded to pay me what I asked for (which was already slightly below industry standard)”. (Producer)

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