Burnout-caused accidents could threaten the UK’s growing film industry

Tom Brady
June 19 2020, 13.00

Accidents caused by burnout could harm the UK’s growing film industry.

A typical shooting day is 12 hours, however, for those involved in ‘prep and wrap,’ it is at least 14.

Studies show driving a car after being awake for 17 hours is as dangerous as driving drunk.

Performance becomes equivalent to or worse than if you had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 per cent.

At this level response speed is 50 per cent slower.

An anonymous source who worked on major TV series’ said: “I have rarely been on a job where someone hasn’t crashed a car.

“I don’t know anyone who actually says they work in film on their car insurance. If they knew, it would go up massively.”

Staff routinely sign non-disclosure agreements which sweeps a dangerous problem under the carpet, legally speaking.

In response, Clapham based Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union (BECTU) started the Eyes Half Shut campaign in 2018.

BECTU Assistant National Secretary Paul Evans, 56, said union members regularly reported falling asleep at the wheel.

An area where accidents caused by burnout could irreversibly damage the industry is on-set special effects.

If a prominent celebrity got injured, Mr Evans explained, British studios would get a reputation for being dangerous.

Special effects departments for instance regularly toss heavy objects through the air and blow things up.

As a result, the risks from staff burnout are clear and seemingly insignificant things can make all the difference.

“When people get hurt, often it’s as simple as forgetting to open a door,” Mr Evans said.

“When an explosion goes off in a confined space, it’s got nowhere to go but through the wall.”

Poor scheduling and management mean longer hours, reducing productivity and causing burnout.

Mr Evans said: “Unionisation signals people are no longer prepared to do it, so companies invest more in management, which is good for the industry.”

In 2017 BECTU reached an agreement standardising working practices with Pact companies.

Pact is an organisation which represents over 450 production companies including Red Planet Pictures.

Alex Jones, 40, is the joint managing director of Red Planet Pictures.

“Most independent production companies see the benefit of having standard terms and conditions across the sector,” he said.

“It disincentivised bad working practices and stopped clashes from one shoot to the next.”

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