Definition August 2021 - Web


A lack of available crew and a skills gap have been key challenges for the UK high-end TV industry, since it underwent an unprecedented boom – buoyed by tax sector relief – back in 2019. That year, the industry-led skills body, ScreenSkills, reported that the downside to positive production figures meant people faced burnout from taking on work without breaks between jobs, and stepping into more senior roles before they were ready. Although some fantastic initiatives have been put in place to ease some of these pressures, Britain’s high-end TV producers are still facing crew shortages, as the industry struggles to keep up with the demand for new shows, caused by lockdown-induced drama binges. “To put it in perspective, I was working on at least 70 high-end TV productions last month, so, if we’ve got 70 productions – and that’s not all of them – there’s 70 producers, 70 DOPs, 70 directors, etc. Then, there’s all the workers in prep,” explains Nicky Ball, senior high-end TV new entrant manager. “We knew we needed a bigger workforce, but that need has grown exponentially since the Covid-19 pandemic.” Not only has the pandemic contributed to the public’s seemingly insatiable desire for new content to watch, but it’s had a tremendous impact on production schedules. With shows overlapping, producers are often left scrambling for staff to pick up the last few days or weeks of work, after crew have left for other commitments. “While the industry is incredibly loyal, it’s becoming increasingly common

IMAGES Around £1.13 billion from inward investment – where financing originates from countries outside the UK – was spent on high-end TV productions, like Netflix’s The Crown (top), last year. The 2020 spend is the second-highest on record and is testament to the resilience of the country’s TV sector. Domestic HETV productions, like His Dark Materials (above), accounted for £375 million – only 4% less than the £327 million for the mammoth production boom of 2019


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20 DEF I N I T ION | AUGUST 202 1

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