We kicked things off with some desk research, which saw us interviewing industry leaders, commissioners and independent production company staff, and exploring successful models from Sweden and Australia.
We also surveyed 800 film and TV crew members, to find out what their preferences would be, and the results were clear. Not only did a staggering 98% say they were interested in a shorter working day, 71% of those said they would be prepared to reduce their day rate in order to work fewer hours.
So, armed with our findings, we created a blueprint for an eight-hour day – and took it on set to stress-test it.
Going on set to shadow two live productions
Our team visited two live productions in Scotland, shadowing their work and talking to everyone involved, from commissioners, writers and cast to crew members, directors and editors. We asked them to consider what they could be doing differently at each stage to adapt to a shorter working day; and by doing so in the moment, were able to capture some unusually granular detail about what would (and wouldn’t) work.
As you can probably imagine, our findings were broad and deep; you can read them in full in our report. But key takeouts included:
- Myths around the barriers to a shorter day were possible to bust and were often based on incorrect assumptions about one department from another. For example, we were told that deadlines hampered writers’ creativity, which the writers themselves said wasn’t true; we found similar misconceptions around the cast’s views on lunch breaks and make-up artists’ on schedules. Many of the perceived barriers were, in reality, not barriers at all.
- Delivering scripts two weeks in advance of filming blocks could be a gamechanger because of the impact this has on every part of the production. Having a locked-in script in good time makes the schedule tighter, which has a positive knock-on effect on the budget (as well as making everyone’s jobs easier).
- And critically, implementing a shorter day would cost less than anyone expected; moving from a 10-hour working day to an eight-hour one increased overall costs by just 4%. At this kind of figure, it’s commercially viable in the short term – and that’s not even factoring in the longer-term potential benefits of less-stressed employees who stay in the industry for longer.
We’ve scoped it; now it’s time to pilot it
We’ve used all our findings to revise our blueprint, creating a retrospective budget and schedule for both productions, with support from Assistant Directors and Line Producers. We’ve also produced a set of guiding principles to help commissioners and production companies understand what good practice and efficiency planning looks like within an eight-hour working day.
So now we’re asking the industry to pick up where we’ve left off; to take our blueprint and guidelines from the report and pilot them on a live production. We’re already talking to several commissioners about making this happen, and would be happy to speak to anyone else who feels ready to blaze this trail. Film and TV is a highly creative industry, packed with creative people; it’s time to apply that creativity to the working day.
Published February 2024