Around 120,000 people are out of work in Hollywood, while in the UK it is estimated that 50,000 freelancers will lose their jobs
Andrew Pulver – The Guardian
Shutdown … job losses in the industry are ‘catastrophic’. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto
About 120,000 film industry workers have already lost their jobs in Hollywood as a result of the coronavirus shutdown, according to the US entertainment industry union IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees).
The estimate emerged in a newsletter sent out by the ICG (International Cinematographers Guild) to its members, which said: “The IATSE reports that the pandemic shutdown has resulted in the loss of 120,000 jobs held by its 150,000 members. It is critical that our industry be included in pending federal relief package.”
The film and TV industry worldwide has experienced a near-total cessation of activity, with thousands of largely freelance crew laid off at short notice with little or no financial compensation. Scores of productions, ranging from studio shoots such as the Avatar sequels and Fantastic Beasts 3 to independent films such as Paul Schrader’s The Card Counter, have been halted.
The ICG, which has nearly 9,000 members, added: “Although some of our members are being paid for up to two weeks after their shows shut down, based upon the reality of the healthcare crisis we now face, it is highly unlikely that productions will resume after so short a period of time … This problem is likely to continue for months, not weeks.”
In the UK, the situation for “below the line” crew appears equally catastrophic. Bectu (Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union) estimates around 50,000 industry freelancers will have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. The union’s head, Philippa Childs, said: “Nearly all film and TV production has ground to a halt in the UK … The [country’s] world-class film and TV sector is at risk of a whole generation of talent being financially ruined by this crisis.” A survey conducted by the union suggested that 71% of freelancers – about 35,000 people – in the industry will struggle to survive financially as a result of the shutdown.
Directors UK, the trade guild representing British screen directors, sent a letter to chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for further measures to support freelance and self-employed film industry personnel. Directors UK CEO Andrew Chowns wrote: “There is now a critical need for similar emergency support measures to be introduced for self-employed workers who are worried, not just about losing their current work, but at the prospect of facing months without income as productions are suspended longer term and, for some smaller productions, indefinitely.” Chowns called for the introduction of proportional income support and sick pay to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
The Guardian’s callout for insight into how the shutdown has affected film industry workers has revealed scores of anecdotes about the impact of coronavirus. A selection will be published in the near future.