A survey from UK film and TV union Bectu has laid bare the effect of the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes in the US on the UK’s film and TV workforce.
Nearly 4,000 freelance film and TV workers took part in the survey. Three quarters of respondents said they are currently not working and 80% have had their employment directly impacted by the strikes.
9 in 10 are worried about their financial security, and 6 in 10 reported struggling with their mental health because of loss of work and/or financial worries.
Other key findings include:
- 35% are struggling to pay household bills, rent or mortgages
- 15% have taken out a loan or other unsecured debt to pay bills
- 1 in 10 are considering moving in with parents or other family to help with costs
- Nearly a quarter said they did not see themselves working in the industry in the next five years
Responses came from film and TV workers across the UK, including behind-the-scenes crew such as camera operators and costume designers, as well as background artists and fashion workers who style actors.
One comment to the survey said: “I lost my job while pregnant and I don’t qualify for maternity pay either. The loss of my job has put great stress and anxiety on my first pregnancy. I am so disheartened by the industry and how disposable we are to productions. We have not heard anything from the production since our last day of work in July.”
Another commented: “I don’t see myself continuing to work in this industry. Situations like this cause so much stress financially on top of the stress the industry can already have while you’re working. It’s so volatile and you do need tough skin and a plan. I know a lot of people living paycheck to paycheck. The industry was flooded with more work and more workers after lockdown and now there’s no work.”
Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said: “Much of the rhetoric surrounding the US dispute is about the actors, but as our survey shows the impact on crew and other film and TV workers is severe and cannot be underestimated.
“This is a workforce that has already faced incredible hardship throughout and following the pandemic, and has now been hit by a second crisis in just a few years. Many of our members have been laid off from productions under ‘force majeure’ clauses with little notice or pay, and with 6 in 10 respondents telling us they are struggling with their mental health, it’s clear the impact also extends beyond financial insecurity.”