The BBC is “considering” the findings of an eight-hour film and TV drama study

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The BBC is "considering" the findings of an eight-hour film and TV drama study

The BBC is “considering” the findings of a study which found that production costs would increase by a minimal amount if the working day were reduced from 10 to eight hours.

The ‘Creating a Blueprint for Shorter Working Days in Film and Scripted Drama’ blueprint found that costs would increase by only 4% if the industry reduced its standard working day by two hours.

Given that working days will be reduced by a fifth and therefore production will take longer to shoot, the main reason for the minimal increase in costs was cited to be the fact that 71% of the 800 respondents to the survey were prepared to see Will be. Salaries are reduced on a pro rata basis, which was used in the modelling. Nearly all respondents (98%) said they would like a shorter eight-hour work day.

The study, the first of its kind, conducted by social enterprise Timewise and broadcasting union Bectu, and funded primarily by the BBC and Screen Scotland, concluded that “expanding the production schedule could theoretically reduce production costs”. It is commercially viable to do so.” Daily working hours from 10 to 8 pm.”

After speaking to commissioners, producers, directors, writers, actors and crew, the study’s authors said there was “consensus” that work hours “are too long and unsustainable in film and television.” It added that the BBC and Screen Scotland are now “considering” the findings.

The study said, “Although the writers’ strike has resulted in a reduction in staff work, there remains a need to address the culture of long working hours, which is leading to poor health and a resulting talent shortage for many people.” Have to leave the job.” “Many industry insiders have acknowledged that the situation is untenable.”

To reach its 4% cost conclusion, the study created a budget for the production of an eight-hour work day, including paying employees on a pro-rata basis, and then compared it to a standard 10% cost. It found that other measures could help support shorter working days such as locking scripts earlier in the process, improving the speed of location by filming in two locations at the same time, and challenging “embedded behaviour”. Give. The study states that commissioners spoken to are “considering a structure where the script is written and delivered before the first day of principal photography, with only minor changes permitted afterward.” Is.”

swedish model

This model is already used in Swedish production, according to which filming should take place either four days per week for 10 hours or five days for eight hours. A collective industry agreement in Sweden imposes penalty charges for any late changes to the schedule, with no exceptions for events such as bad weather conditions or cast illness. Although overtime may be worked in exceptional circumstances, it cannot be planned into the schedule.

In the UK, there is no precedent for such a short working day, although there was anecdotal feedback from survey respondents about an attempt by Clint Eastwood in the US to introduce something similar across the pond.

“There appeared to be a hesitation to discuss any previous trials of the shorter day because of the commercial implications,” the report said. “Although in principle industry leaders agreed that the working day could be shortened, there were concerns about the potential for any costs added to the bottom line.”

The report is likely to reignite the debate over the link between long working hours and health. Surveys by film and TV charities have often shown high levels of poor mental health in the freelance community, which is currently struggling to find work with fewer opportunities across many genres.

However, working hours proved a major stumbling block in Bectu’s messy negotiations with producer trade body Pact in 2022 and the pair settled on a 10-hour day, meaning it will be difficult to negotiate any further cuts.

Emma Stewart, who runs Timewise, said she started her social enterprise after becoming “one of the thousands of people who have to give up their careers in TV and film after starting a family.”

“We have to face the facts: current working patterns mean we close the door to inclusion,” he said. “You instantly lose people with family commitments, caring duties and the need to balance anything else in life.”

Marcus Ryder, CEO of the Film and TV Charity, said: “We have long seen the damaging effects of excessive working hours on those working in film and television. Both our Looking Glass research and our direct work with clients have repeatedly highlighted the harm excessive hours have on workers’ mental health and well-being and the role they play in people leaving the industry.

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