10 resources for freelance crew concerned about the impact of COVID-19

10 resources for freelance crew concerned about the impact of COVID-19

Most productions have been placed on hiatus and many freelance crew are naturally concerned about the next few weeks and months ahead.

In these uncertain times, we’ve attempted to collate some of the most up to date information that relates to the industry and support for freelance crew in this thread. Here are 10 resources for you below.

Firstly though, let us share our sympathy with those who have passed away and empathy with those at risk from COVID-19. It is clear we all have a part to play over the coming weeks and months to stop the spread and limit the impact.

If you can contribute with some pertinent information, suggest any corrections; offer cool-headed advice or share the latest news from a reputable source, please do so in the comments below.

1. Tracy Brabin MP has been gathering stories of how the halt to all production has been affecting freelancers. She is calling on the government to provide a temporary UBI (Universal Basic Income) for those unable to work during the crisis. If the banks got bailed out in 2008, let’s hope the people get the same in 2020! Follow developments via Brabin’s twitter feed: https://twitter.com/TracyBrabin

2. Most banks are offering support to customers via waiving fees, temporary credit increases, mortgage or loan deferrals or reduction in payments. Speak to your bank to discuss your circumstances. Here’s a rundown of some banks actions from Money Saving Expert: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/…/banks-to-offer-mortgag…/

3. If you are self-employed, the HMRC has set up a tax helpline with 2000 dedicated call handlers. If you are going to have trouble paying your tax bill, speak with them to work out if you can defer, suspend payments or cancel and pending penalties. https://www.gov.uk/…/tax-helpline-to-support-businesses-aff…

4. You may be eligible to apply for universal credit. It’s not much, but it’s something. It might take time to process, so get the ball rolling early. In ordinary circumstances, you would need to visit a job centre, but in the current situation, verifications are taking place over the phone. Visit the website for more info https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit

5. The Film and TV Charity remains open. You’re advised to read the guidance on their website before getting in touch. If you’re facing an urgent and immediate need for a one-off grant you should complete the financial support form. You don’t need to call the Support Line. If you’re looking for legal advice or emotional support, you’re advised to use live-chat on their website. https://filmtvcharity.org.uk/…/the-coronovirus-were-here-t…/

6. 6 foot from the spotlight is a charity set up to support the mental well-being of film crew in the UK. They have a podcast on their website that discusses techniques and ideas that you might find useful: https://www.6ftfrom.org/…/ep-4-the-wellbeing-facilitator-in…

7. For viewers in Scotland, Creative Scotland have put together advice for business and the self-employed here: https://www.creativescotland.com/…/20…/02/coronavirus-advice

8. BECTU has posted some advice for its members. This is no doubt a developing page as new advice comes to light: https://bectu.org.uk/…/covid-19-advice-for-freelancers-wor…/

9. For the latest news on the virus and what the government are doing, we suggest keeping track on the BBC: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/explainers-51632801

10. A Facebook group has popped up where freelancers are sharing concerns, knowledge and hopefully some reassurance to each other. You might need to be added by others already in the group, but it can be found here. https://www.facebook.com/groups/198755028059810/

If you are a pro-subscribing member of thecallsheet, you can cancel your subscription at any time on Paypal. We’re currently working on our policy for the next few months but it’s a live situation so will monitor the progress and take advice before announcing any changes.

According to the APA, several studios are remaining open, including Pinewood, Elstree, Twickenham, Ealing, 3 Mills and Island Studios. Of course, that might change by this time tomorrow and production companies should strongly consider closing down for the greater good and paying freelancers quickly.

Some final, more general thoughts….

If you are struggling with anxiety, you are not alone, but maybe take a break from twitter and speak to someone or contact the Film and TV Charity.

If you’re sharing coronavirus-related memes and jokes, maybe consider not doing that – they’re not funny now and will be even less funny when looking back in a few months.

Listen to and adhere to the Government advice. Follow the instructions of the experts. Watch the daily briefings from No. 10 and only get your news from reliable sources. Don’t be sharing unsubstantiated information or clickbait garbage on facebook. Try not to post comments speculating on a subject you are not an expert in.

Put a note through any elderly or vulnerable neighbours’ doors, offer them help and let them know you are there. Self-isolate for 7 days if you feel the symptoms coming on, 14 days for a household. Don’t clear the shelves at the shops; other people are also in need so just get what you would normally and everyone will have something. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face and try not to be a selfish prick in general.

We’re in unprecedented times, look out for each other.