Bectu reports 75% of film and TV freelancers are out of work

Bectu reports 75% of film and TV freelancers are out of work

TV StudioA new survey from UK film and TV union Bectu has found that three quarters of those in the film and TV sector are currently out of work. 

Nearly 4000 freelance workers responded to the survey, including behind-the-scenes crew such as camera operators and costume designers, as well as background artists and fashion workers who style actors.


Their responses highlighted the impact that the dual US strikes are having on the UK screen sector, with 80% having their employment status directly impacted by the industrial disputes. 


The survey also reported that 9 in 10 are worried about their financial security, and 6 in 10 reported struggling with their mental health as a result of loss of work and/or financial worries.


Other key findings included:

• 35% are struggling to pay household bills, rent or mortgages

• 15% have taken out a loan or other unsecured debt to pay bills

• 1 in 10 are considering moving in with parents or other family to help with costs

• Nearly a quarter said they did not see themselves working in the industry in the next 5 years


Head of Bectu Philippa Childs commented on the findings: “Much of the rhetoric surrounding the US dispute is about the actors, but as our survey shows the impact on crew and other film and TV workers is severe and cannot be underestimated.


“This is a workforce that has already faced incredible hardship throughout and following the pandemic, and has now been hit by a second crisis in just a few years. Many of our members have been laid off from productions under ‘force majeure’ clauses with little notice or pay, and with 6 in 10 respondents telling us they are struggling with their mental health, it’s clear the impact also extends beyond financial insecurity.


“The number of freelancers questioning their future in the industry should sound alarm bells. For too long we have seen a pattern of engaging crew where they are picked up and dropped again with little notice, protection or reassurances about future employment. They are often the first to suffer and the hardest hit when production is impacted.


“This is a fight with many of the same employers who frequently undervalue crew in the UK, and therefore our solidarity with US actors and writers is important for raising standards domestically and globally. However, there is no getting around the very real and devastating impact on UK workers.


“The government is vocal about the huge cultural and economic value of the creative industries; it must put its money where its mouth is and look after those who work in the sector. Likewise urgent industry collaboration and commitment from employers to support the freelance workforce is critical if we want to UK to remain a cultural hub.”


Image via TechnicolourPirate/Creative Commons. 

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