Bectu supports Time Project initiative from Share My Telly Job

7 August 2020

Share My Telly Job has revealed details of a pilot research project in September to try to quantify the amount of overtime film and TV crew undertake on a job and to tackle the long hours culture in the industry.

A television editor working with vision mixer - Getty Images photo

A TV editor working with a vision mixer

The pilot marks the first stage of The Time Project, which is the brainchild of Share My Telly Job, an organisation promoting flexible working in the TV industry. Bectu is supporting the project and encouraging its members to take part.

The project will collect data from crew to help inform equality, diversity and inclusivity policies across the industry.

Share My Telly Job has secured funding from the Screen Industries Growth Network (SIGN). This is led by the University of York and is a business-facing initiative supporting the TV, film and games industries in Yorkshire and the Humber, funded by Research England.

SIGN connects companies, support agencies and universities through a programme of training, diversity and inclusivity programmes, business development and research.

Dr Rowan Aust (University of Huddersfield)  and Dr Jon Swords (University of York) will be working on the project, which launches in September with a pilot trialling timesheets.

Potential participants can now register their interest in taking part  in the pilot, which begins on 7th September 2020 and invites them to upload their working hours weekly.

The aim is to roll out an app soon after, which freelancers and staff can use to download anonymised data for the study.

Long hours lead to burnout

Head of Bectu, Philippa Childs said: “Bectu has consistently campaigned against the culture of long hours that go unpaid. Our Eyes Half Shut campaign highlighted the devastating impact these working practices have on content, mental health and wellbeing. We know that people working in film and TV don’t want to continue working in this way.

“As the industry returns to work we will be working on behalf of nearly 20,000  freelance members to ensure that working conditions improve and do not detoriate as a result of the pandemic. This piece of work comes at a crucial time and we will be urging members to take part.”

Louise Patel from Share My Telly Job said: “By gathering data on working hours, researchers will be able to build an accurate picture of how hours worked correlate to pay, ethnicity, gender and disability, as well as the impact on health and safety issues and workforce well-being.

“From our campaigning over the past five years with SMTJ, we know that working hours are intrinsically linked to issues of burnout, the lack of diversity, the loss of women in the industry, career stagnation and serious mental health issues – with solid evidence of unfair working practice we can continue our work with Bectu to bring real, fundamental change to the industry ”

The hope is that the data collected will enable researchers to build an accurate picture of the way freelancers work in television, establishing patterns of behaviour and establishing patterns of overwork which have major impacts on workers’ health and wellbeing .

Dr Jon Swords of SIGN said: “The Time Project could be potentially transformative for understanding the amount of additional time television workers contribute to the screen industries. The data collected will be valuable to understand the nature of overworking and identifying who does the most, which parts of the sector are impacted the most and if some parts of the country are better at providing fairer contracts. Working with SMTJ provides us with an excellent opportunity to understand working practices across the TV industry.”

Dr Rowan Aust said: “Excessive working hours are endemic in television production and understanding patterns of why long hours are typical rather than exceptional is key to changing the industry for the better across all equality, diversity and inclusivity agendas.

“Television asks new entrants to work these hours for cripplingly low pay. It asks that parents make a choice between work and their kids. It is preventative of caring for others and selves. This data will allow us to understand who is impacted the most and how practice can be changed for the benefit of everyone making TV.”

The research team will be working in collaboration with experienced freelancers Louise Patel, Michelle James Reynolds and Natalie Grant who head up Share My Telly Job.

Time Project pilot details

Potential participants can now register their interest in taking part  in the pilot, which begins on 7th September 2020.

Participants will be asked to complete a weekly time sheet (each Friday), for four weeks and it is open to both freelancers and those holding staff positions. This should only take ten minutes a week. The project is seeking participants working in ANY role in the television industry to take part, from staff CEOs to entry-level freelance runners. This includes those in steady work with predictable hours.

The group taking part in the pilot will be asked to feed back on the survey and make recommendations which will help shape the main project due to launch later this year.

You will need to be in paid work for a minimum of one week between the dates of 7 Sept-2 Oct 2020.

Applicants will hear by 24 August if they have been offered a place. All data will be anonymised.