And here we are – at home, writes Media Parents Factual Exec and SP Jonathan Schutz. Working from home. Hmm. Let’s be honest: for most of us, even the least sniff of work has evaporated. Channel 4 has suggested it will be “reaching out” to freelancers. The BBC and Netflix have made donations to the Film & TV Charity, ITV has made a fund available for indies. It’s all very nice, though perhaps not all that useful for those of us who are just about grinding along.
In the meantime, some indies are helping out by rehiring and furloughing recent freelancers so they can avail themselves of Rishi Sunak’s seeming bounty. Many of us however (including those with Personal Service Companies) plummet between the cracks of the Chancellor’s help package. BECTU, Martin Lewis and some helpful MPs and journos – are making noise about this, but we still don’t know if that’s going to have any effect.
All the channels, terrestrial and otherwise, will soon be desperate for content – and not just shows about the virus. It’ll be on a budget as commercial broadcasters face a fall in advertising income, and those broadcasters who rely on ad-sales driven production will be hit doubly as sponsors retreat as well. I personally have two 6-hour series in development with interested sponsors who have gone extremely quiet!
But quality production on a budget? That’s good news: my whole business model for Curly Lizard Films is based on it. Frankly, my life – juggling Daddy Duty with Specialist Factual production – has been a bit like lockdown for some years now anyway. I was writing, developing, producing, editing and delivering productions from home long before all this kicked off. Last year’s main Curly Lizard production was a reversion of a very glossy Chinese series for NGC, all made from the spare room.
Some companies are managing to get commissions – you can watch Swan Films MD Joe Evans talking about his latest socially distanced commission with Talented People’s Kimberley Godboldt by clicking here, and your family can take part in Grayson’s Art Club here – but there are a lot more of us still looking for work.
So, dear broadcasters and indies – here’s a thought that could get us all busy right now. Pop down to your friendly distributor – online, of course. They have plenty on their shelves from around the world. Or see what you have in your own archive that could be repurposed. Send it over to me, and I’ll script something up and edit it together for you. And should you be up for some history – there are plenty of untouched subjects from all over the world, with archive accessible online. Wouldn’t it be a nice surprise if we suddenly developed a wider world-view while shut away in our houses?
Because when you come down to it, what’s the one thing better than setting up funds and relying on the government’s largesse? Getting productions started again and getting us all back to work. So now: over to you!