ScreenSkills fast-tracks training for safe return to work in film and HETV

Image: Noughts & Crosses© BBC/Mammoth Screen/Ilze Kitshoff

New training is being fast-tracked by ScreenSkills to help film and high-end television return safely to production.  

The training is being developed in response to the new challenges facing the industry which saw at least £426 million worth of productions postponed or suspended when social distancing measures followed by lockdown were announced. The intention is that free online basic training will be ready to roll out within weeks and that crew members will undertake the training before they return to set or location. 

ScreenSkills is partnering with Skills for Health, a not-for-profit organisation that is well-known within the health sector and is already working with the NHS and other sectors to provide training for the Covid-19 crisis, and First Option, established safety consultants to the entertainment industry, to ensure expert input in delivering health and safety solutions for the screen industries. 

The work is being supported by the ScreenSkills High-end TV Skills Fund with contributions from high-end television productions and the BFI, awarding National Lottery funds as part of its Future Film Skills strategy. 

The immediate aim is to ensure everyone working on a production, irrespective of their role, has access to basic health and safety understanding to operate in the context of Covid-19.  

Seetha Kumar, ScreenSkills’ chief executive, said: “We are working swiftly to support the industry in what it needs to know and do to get back to work while operating safely in the new environment. The numbers of people and equipment and the often close physical contact involved in making film and television means we must all work together to make sure any risks are managed and minimised.” 

Christine Healy, chair of the ScreenSkills HETV Skills Fund and head of production, New Pictures, said: “The HETV industry is working hard to put in place the steps needed to get back into production as soon as we are able… We’ve got to make sure we are giving our workers information so that they know how to stay safe and well in this changed filming environment.”  

Iain Smith, chair of the ScreenSkills Film Skills Fund and founder of Applecross Productions, said: “I am really pleased that ScreenSkills is taking the lead in putting together the vital training the industry needs and supporting the return to work.” 

Candace Miller, executive director at Skills for Health said: “Our work in the health sector has shown just how critical it is that everyone has the understanding they need to work safely within the changed working conditions that Covid-19 has brought across all sectors of our economy.”

Paul Greeves, managing director of First Option, said: “We’re delighted to be working with ScreenSkills and the other partners to develop this much needed training to enable the production sector to get back to work.”

Leigh Adams, the BFI’s director of education and skills, said: “The work that ScreenSkills is doing to provide training and resources for those working in film and TV production as it moves into restart mode is a vital part of the recovery plan for the industry.” 

Separate work is under way in unscripted television to produce a package of support for programme makers producing content during lockdown. The core objective of this package is to share existing good practice, ingenuity and tech innovation, via case studies. This work is being supported by the TV Skills Fund, with contributions from the BBC, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

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