A safe return to work for the global film & TV industry to resume production

COVID19 News Press-releases

Brussels, 22 June 2020: FIA-UNI MEI joint statement on post-Covid-19 Measures in Film and TV production

Some 34 unions and guilds from 22 countries representing more than 500,000 cast and crew members, have come together for a global webinar to share best practices for work in film and TV production to resume in a pre-vaccine, post-COVID-19 scenario.

In an unprecedented spirit of solidarity and collaboration, the member organisations of FIA, the International Federation of Actors, and UNI MEI, the Media, Entertainment and Arts sector of UNI Global Union, have worked tirelessly over recent weeks to promote robust and science-based new standards for the safety of cast and crew, as film and TV production is gradually picking up again.

Unions and guilds welcome a return to a new normal, as the livelihood of entertainment workers has been severely hit by the economic and social impact of COVID-19 lockdown measures, but are also determined to ensure that production protocols are adapted to prevent unnecessary risks, as this unprecedented health scare is far from over. Haste and safety don’t go well together.

The global TV and film sectors account for about US$540 billion of annual revenue. They employ several million people and contract with many freelancers and self-employed workers. Since March, all major productions across the globe have been interrupted or postponed. Solidarity funds set-up by unions and employers, financial relief programmes and public unemployment schemes have mitigated the impact of the work stoppage, but only a safe return to production can bring back the certainty of sustainable investment in the creation of motion pictures and TV programmes.

The webinar presented four safety guidelines negotiated by unions and guilds from Australia, France, the United Kingdom and the United States and addressed in detail a wide range of issues throughout the production process, such as testing, the protection of actors, crew, and production staff as well as the practical organisation of shooting days in studios and on location.

Setting up a special health & safety department to inform, advise, monitor, and enforce special Covid-19 safety measures is of course essential these days. Also important is to build layers of security (production bubbles) around core cast and crew members and securing paid sick leave for anyone testing positive on set. No one should be afraid to come forward for fear of losing their income. Special arrangements are also recommended to ensure fair casting opportunities for performers of all age, including those deemed to be more at risk of contracting the virus.

In the next months, FIA and UNI MEI will continue to support member organisations in their endeavour to promote the highest safety protocols in response to COVID-19, in cooperation with industry stakeholders and authorities at national and international level.

FIA President Ferne Downey (ACTRA, Canada) said: Performers are at the heart of the production process and we want to get back to work. But not until we are confident it is safe to do so. Our unions and guilds have been working diligently to share knowledge and promote the highest standards on set, based on the best scientific research. We are confident that, with proper implementation, these protocols will enable us to start delivering new content to our global audiences again. We praise the fantastic collaboration with UNI MEI and sister unions and look forward to deepening our partnership going forward”.

UNI MEI President, Matthew D. Loeb (IATSE, United States) said:The cooperation among unions and guilds across the globe is important to ensure the best protection for cast and crew and a sustainable relaunch of our industry. We look forward to continuing our work with our colleagues at FIA and its member organisations. The regular exchange of information, expertise, and experience across borders will increase the capacity of every union to ensure that members return to work safely”.

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