Definition December 2022 - Web


Industry briefings The latest news, views and hot tips from the world of video production

SAFEGUARDING THE FUTURE OF PRODUCTION The DCMS’s £500m Covid-19 fund ended in April. Now, many want an ‘affordable’ commercial scheme in the event of infectious diseases

When the Covid-19 pandemic pulled the rug from under the feet of the nation in early 2020, countless film and TV productions ground to a halt. People were laid off and there was no indication as to when filming would start again. On 28 July 2020, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), led at the time by Oliver Dowden, announced the launch of the UK-wide £500 million Film & TV Production Restart Scheme. This was designed to give relief to productions struggling to get insurance for Covid- related costs, in return for a registration fee of 1% of their production budgets. It provided compensation to producers that incurred costs caused by abandonment due to Covid-19, or for delays to eligible new or pre-existing productions. At the time, the government said: “The new scheme will fill the gap left by the lack of available insurance, and cover coronavirus-related losses for cast member and crew illnesses, and filming

delays or disruptions caused by the ongoing battle against the virus.” Although many in the industry were critical of the government for not introducing any help until four months after the first UK-wide lockdown, there are those who support the approach. John McVay, chief executive of Pact (Producers’ Alliance for Cinema and Television) says the government must be given credit where it’s due. “It was one of the fastest and biggest interventions for an audio-visual economy by anyone, given that we were inventing a £500 million public intervention to support our sector,” he adds. “In the teeth of a pandemic, while the entire world was closing down, economies were collapsing and many other sectors had problems – while I love all my people, we’re special, but sometimes we’re not that special. Looking after public health was a bigger issue for the government at the time.” In fact, it was the McVay-fronted Pact and domestic broadcasters that led a

PACT WITH POTENTIAL John McVay of Pact (above) pushed for more government assistance in the production industry

charge for the government to intervene – even helping to design the package that kept the sector afloat. The BFI also played a key role in bringing the industry and government together. Its cross-industry BFI Screen Sector Task Force worked on key issues. Once the pandemic struck, it was focused on key concerns to get everything back up and running. “We identified six priorities for helping the industry recover – and creating a system that would enable independent productions to restart is one of those,” a BFI spokesperson says. “The problem was that they were

17. DECEMBER 2022

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