Actions to take
Ensure that you prioritise downtime and sleep for crew – as a lack of sleep can have a detrimental impact on physical and mental health.
Sleep deprivation is a significant health and safety risk on production, especially if people are driving or doing manual jobs on set.
Supporting healthy habits – such as making time for eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep – shows your team that you care about their welfare, and it also helps to avoid burnout and allows crew to do their best work.
Learn how individuals can improve their sleep and maintain healthy lifestyle habits in the Film and TV Charity’s Freelancer Wellbeing Hub.
Everyone working on production has their own lives, families and health issues.
Remind people of their leave entitlements and support your team in taking leave for necessary medical reasons, personal events or holidays, where possible.
Senior team members can model healthy behaviours regarding time off by taking their own planned leave and prioritising personal events.
Film and TV productions often have a culture of long hours and insufficient rest.
Overwork and presenteeism is exhausting, unhelpful, leads to low staff morale and productivity, and has a negative impact on your team’s lives outside work.
You can help prevent or shift this culture by:
- Modelling healthy behaviour and not staying late
- Not keeping teams in the office or on set unnecessarily
- Reducing prep and wrap times
- Reassessing how many people are needed on any given day
- Improving efficiency and ways of working so crew can go home earlier
The senior team can play an important role by modelling best practice when it comes to keeping communication within working hours where possible.
When establishing your production boundaries, consider:
- No emails or calls at weekends or after a particular time in the evening – unless it’s an emergency
- Providing work phones where possible
- Specifying if your production will use WhatsApp and checking people are comfortable with this
- Using delayed delivery on emails so that all messages are received within working hours
It’s important to review any request for time off and consider where you can be flexible.
Your production might not be able to accommodate all requests, but a conversation about them gives you the chance to explore all possible solutions together and make an individual feel heard.
See our guidance on how to work well with your crew and to share our Working Well with Me questionnaire with your team, if you haven’t already, so they can outline any specific needs or upcoming personal events they would like you to consider.
Similarly, consider the benefits of job-sharing and be open to flexible working arrangements, ensuring you respond appropriately to any formal flexible working requests, as it’s a legal right in certain circumstances.
Anyone who works in film or TV production can sign up to the free Time Project app.
It allows users to log hours worked above and beyond what they’ve been paid for and it helps build a picture of how pay correlates to working hours and other factors, such as UK location.
The data will be used as evidence to convince commissioners and financiers to change budget provisions to help prevent unhealthy and dangerous working hours.
In this video, producer Karl Lieges talks about how a production he oversaw prioritised downtime and rest by introducing a “media blackout”.
In this context, it means email and phone downtime.
You could put a similar blackout in place on your production.
Actions taken on the production included:
- Discussing plans with senior leaders for small, low-cost measures that may have a significant and positive impact on the mental health of the team.
- Scheduling specific rest periods where the team would only be contacted in an emergency.
- Communicating the value to the whole team of having a period without electronic communication.