#UnseenOnScreen: testimonials 3 and 4

16 November 2021

This week, we will be sharing stories from the #UnseenOnScreen campaign, which demonstrate the extent of the problem of bullying and harassment in the film and TV industry. Each day, we will be uploading two anonymous testimonials that give an insight into the personal experiences of workers in the film and TV industry.

Account Three
“My executive producer would often remind me that working from home meant I and my editor could switch on at anytime because the avids were just there! Once I pushed back and said it’s 8.30pm and my editor can make the changes in the morning. I was reminded of how “easy” we’ve had it working from home and that our work was so good they wanted the channel to see that night. This is one example of the exec making me feel guilty for trying to create boundaries.  The exec also told me that I take too long to reply to WhatsApp messages and I said I wasn’t working (it was an agreed day off) & they replied with “I forgot but it’s only one question that you can answer now” – I didn’t respond until the next day when I returned to work. Their tone on phone calls that day was short and rude.”

Account Four
“I was bullied and gaslighted by my boss repeatedly until I thought I was going mad. I’d be asked to look into – say – available comedians, then when I talked through the list of names I’d get an angry stare and be told aggressively  ‘why are you talking about all those f****** comedians’. I’d be told all my ideas were ‘s***’ and that if I ever had a good idea they’d let me know. Hardly conducive to the creative atmosphere we’re all supposed to work in in the industry.

Some of the team were new to TV and extremely distressed by the way they were themselves treated but they were also upset over how I was treated. I was constantly reassuring tearful team members that TV ‘isn’t always like this.’  One junior person didn’t get paid for their last week as it was simply decided they had not done a good enough job and didn’t deserve it.

It’s difficult to describe just how bad things were, but if I received praise-  eg from a commissioner in front of this person – then immediately my heart would sink as I would know I was in big trouble.  The rages would start and I’d be pulled apart for perceived slights, despite having just been told I’d done a great job by someone more senior. I remember standing in the middle of the office and saying out loud to myself ‘I feel like I’m losing my mind’. As soon as I started working for this company I was sent many messages from former employees telling me they’d cried every day working there. This person is a renowned problem but is – in classic TV language – described as a ‘character’ or a ‘maverick’.  Always on best behaviour with anyone senior, so never out in the open with their behaviour, but everyone knows about it.

I’ve had counselling and I’ve come a long way.  But some of the newer team members left TV for good.  I tried everything to stop this person – stood up to them, tried to laugh it off, spoke to more senior people – and ultimately the only thing that worked was me leaving.”