Free basic coronavirus awareness training to support restart in film and TV production

Free online training designed to support screen industry workers stay safe on productions in the context of Covid-19 is launched today by ScreenSkills, the UK’s screen skills body.

The development has been 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 coronavirus basic awareness on production e-learning module​ addresses a range of issues now facing film and television production and provides crucial information on how to reduce the risk of the spread of the virus on production.

The free online training covers areas where there are clear potential risks including transport, catering and the sharing of equipment and topics such as the monitoring of symptoms, social distancing and sanitisation.

The step-by-step course concludes with a short test upon successful completion of which candidates will receive a certificate that can be easily validated on the ScreenSkills website. Certificates are normally valid for six months after which candidates will need to re-take the learning and test to ensure their knowledge is still up to date.

Seetha Kumar, ScreenSkills CEO, said: “This training is designed to help everyone on a production keep themselves, their colleagues and their environment as safe as possible in the face of the new challenges presented by the coronavirus. We want to support the UK’s screen industries to continue to make great film and television by providing simple tools and information so that the risks are minimised and managed.”

The training was developed to complement the Working Safely During Covid-19 guidance developed by the British Film Commission (BFC) for film and high-end television and is also expected to help unscripted television work safely in the context of Covid-19.

ScreenSkills is partnering with Skills for Health, a not-for-profit in the health sector that 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.

Christine Healy, chair of the ScreenSkills HETV Skills Fund and head of production, New Pictures, said: “This training gives everybody information about what they will need to do to work safely when they get back into production in the Covid environment. It should particularly help freelance crew members be prepared for the return to work and encourage people to stop and think about how living with Covid-19 will affect how they perform their roles within the production workplace. It is great that ScreenSkills has been the leader in bringing this practical training toolkit around the coronavirus to those who need it. I will certainly be asking people on my productions to do the course.”

Iain Smith, chair of the ScreenSkills Film Skills Fund, chair of the BFC and founder of Applecross Productions, said: “Covid-19 has changed how we must work. Film and TV production is a naturally collaborative medium and as such is potentially vulnerable to this virus. The objective is therefore to create as safe a working environment as possible whilst maintaining productivity and creativity. This will require clear methodologies and a disciplined approach from all departments, cast and crew. Everyone will have to adapt the new ground rules to suit their particular departmental needs, whilst fulfilling the requirements of their scripts. Nothing can be taken for granted. I am really pleased that ScreenSkills is supporting the industry’s return to work by offering this vital training at this crucial time.”

Leigh Adams, the BFI’s director of education and skills, said: “This practical and accessible course has been developed to complement the guidance which is there to keep our industry’s cast and crew safe when film and TV projects across the UK get back into production. As soon as it is viable and safe to do so, productions of all sizes will be back up and running, and this training will give our fantastic crew the knowledge and confidence to get back into the workplace.”

Candace Miller, executive director at Skills for Health, said: “Skills for Health is delighted to have been able to participate in such an important and key training development in helping the screen industry re-activate within a Covid-19 world. It was such a pleasure to share our expertise in health sector skills development, e-learning and assessment, and we are proud to have assisted ScreenSkills to move at pace, ensuring that everyone, across the screen industries, can learn about the new ways of operating and staying safe on set.”

Paul Greeves, managing director of First Option, said: “We were delighted to be asked to partner with ScreenSkills to produce this important training. The coronavirus is the biggest challenge to production since the 2008 crash and is going to require new thinking and new ways of working by everyone involved. A crucial part of that is providing everyone with the knowledge and a consistent approach to working safely so we’re proud to have contributed to this course.”

The online training underwent testing with industry practitioners last week and will be reviewed at regular intervals and updated if necessary. An appendix at the end of this release includes quotes from some of those who reviewed the training before launch.

A separate programme of discussions designed to support industry in implementing the guidance and working safely will launch shortly. This will include sessions on film management and logistics, working in tech and craft, and an overview of the practicalities of shooting from a high-end TV drama that has recently gone into production.

Click here to access the e-learning module.

For press inquiries, please contact Louise Jury, director of communications and marketing, on or 020 7713 9883/07841 496636

Notes to editors:
The production guidance for film and high-end television was developed for film and high-end TV by an industry working group convened by the British Film Commission (BFC) as part of the BFI’s Screen Sector Task Force.

Senior members of the ScreenSkills team, including Gareth Ellis-Unwin, head of film and animation and an experienced producer of films at many scales (The King’s Speech, Zaytoun, Kajaki: The True Story, Steel Country), contributed to the development of the guidance.

BFI statistics show at least £426 million worth of HETV and film productions were postponed or suspended when social distancing measures followed by lockdown were announced.

Those taking the e-learning module will fail the test if they get less than 80% of the test questions right. However, candidates can retake the test – with a new set of questions - until they pass.

Appendix of quotes from industry figures who tested the training:

Daniel Alexander, of Daniel Alexander Films, said: “With so many concerns and obstacles around returning to a busy film set, I found this online training invaluable in providing clear and concise information on how to do so safely. The training will be something that I implement on all my productions moving forward. The clarity and well thought out coverage of the different areas of a production will make it a go-to resource for instilling confidence on set. This is highly recommended for anyone who may be wondering about the practicality of returning to work whilst protecting yourself and others in the process.”

Julie Baines, producer, Dan Films, said: “I will be recommending the coronavirus basic awareness training to everyone on our productions. I found it really helpful as what you should do in certain circumstances is not always as obvious as you might think.”

Hilary Benson, director of production, Left Bank Pictures, said: “ScreenSkills’ new Covid-19 training course is a valuable tool to provide crew with insight into the disease, and what to expect in the ‘new normal’, when returning to production. It delivers practical information in a straightforward and educational way, whilst aiming to improve crew’s understanding of the implications of this disease and the role they must also play in mitigating its spread. Left Bank Pictures will be implementing this training across all our shows.”

Rachel Carter, deputy nursing sister and formerly on-set medical advisor Holby City, said: “This is a great introduction to Covid-19 and how to deal with it day to day on your production. It’s vital we know these basics to stop the spread. I highly recommend this training.”

Alex Jones, joint managing director, Red Planet Pictures, said: “I thought the training was clear and pitched at the right level. It ensures individuals have the basic knowledge and awareness of the virus and I particularly like that it highlights that everyone on the production has a responsibility to do their part in ensuring a safe working environment. It is great to have this industry wide training available and it will dovetail perfectly into our wider risk assessments and protocols.”

Pat Lees, line producer (The Durrells, Apple Tree Yard, Cheat), said: “This is an excellent tool to introduce people to the basics of coronavirus prevention. It's full of facts and guidance and is also concise so you keep on the learning journey without difficulty.”

Emma Pike, head of production, Two Brothers, said: “This training is excellent and pitched at just the right level. It should really help to set cast and crew expectations about what they're likely to have to deal with when returning to work. I also really like that it reminds the user throughout about the importance of personal responsibility as everyone's participation will be key in implementing the new guidelines and creating a safe working environment.”

Emily Russell, head of production, Mammoth Screen, said: “I thought the training was informative, clear and easy to use. Emphasising all our responsibilities to protect not only ourselves but those around us. It really needs to be a team effort, and with good training available to all we will be in a stronger position to get through this difficult time.”

About ScreenSkills
ScreenSkills is the industry-led skills body for the UK's screen industries - animation, film, games, television, including children's TV, unscripted and high-end, and VFX. We work across the whole of the country to ensure that UK screen has access now, and in the future, to the skills and talent needed for continued success.

ScreenSkills’ work in finding, developing and retaining a skilled workforce for the UK’s screen industries includes: providing careers information; finding and supporting new entrants; investing in skills and training for the existing workforce, including programmes to help professionals return to the industry after a career break for caring or parenting responsibilities, to support progression into more senior roles across the industry and to further diversity the workforce; the ScreenSkills Mentoring Network; and skills forecasting. All programmes have diversity and inclusivity targets.
We are supported by industry contributions to skills funds for film, high-end television, children’s television, television and animation, and by the BFI, awarding National Lottery funding as part of its Future Film Skills strategy. We currently receive Arts Council England funding to share good practice from the screen industries with the arts.

About the BFI
The BFI is the UK’s lead organisation for film, television and the moving image. It is a cultural charity that:

  • Curates and presents the greatest international public programme of world cinema for audiences; in cinemas, at festivals and online
  • Cares for the BFI National Archive – the most significant film and television archive in the world
  • Actively seeks out and supports the next generation of filmmakers
  • Works with Government and industry to make the UK the most creatively exciting and prosperous place to make film internationally
  • Regularly publishes statistics on the UK film and high-end television screen sector as the official statistics provider for the industry.

Founded in 1933, the BFI is a registered charity governed by Royal Charter. The BFI Board of Governors is chaired by Josh Berger CBE.

About Skills for Health
Skills for Health, a not-for-profit organisation committed to the development of an improved and sustainable healthcare workforce across the UK.

Established in 2002 as the Sector Skills Council for Health for the UK health sector, Skills for Health helps to inform policy and standards focusing on health, education and improving the wider wellbeing of public health. Skills for Health are the employers’ trusted provider of workforce and organisational development, designed to increase quality of healthcare, patient safety and productivity.

Our products and service offering is based on our core mission of developing a more skilled, productive and flexible workforce. Promoting better jobs, careers and sustainable employment, developing appropriate employer-led qualifications and raising standards in skills and training to maximise quality, productivity and health outcomes.

Our aim is to:

  • Help you maximise the potential of your workforce
  • Deliver workforce transformation
  • Improve quality, productivity and health outcomes
  • Raise standards in skills and training delivery

Our expert staff work with employers helping them establish a more efficient and productive healthcare workforce that is fully sustainable.

About First Option
First Option are a specialist media and entertainment safety consultancy providing support, advice, training and equipment to help clients achieve their creative goals, safe in the knowledge they are protected from risks at work. First Option have been closely involved in the development of Covid-19 production protocols with the BFC, broadcasters, BECTU, production management organisation and clients across the sector and are actively working with clients now to restart production.

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