The UK’s British Film Institute (BFI) and The Film and TV Charity have launched a new industry-backed Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund, with a £1m ($1.2m) donation from Netflix.
The scheme is designed to support the creative community by providing emergency short-term relief to the thousands of active workers and freelancers who have been directly affected by the closure of productions across the UK.
It will be administered by The Film and TV Charity with support from the BFI, with Netflix’s donation coming from its $100m fund launched last week to support those affected by Covid-19.
The Film and TV Charity is working on the precise eligibility criteria and level of individual funding but the fund will be open to those working in production, distribution and exhibition.
Those in immediate and urgent need should apply for support via The Film and TV Charity’s existing hardship fund, which offers grants of up to £500 to provide stop-gap support. This hardship fund will sit alongside the new Film and TV Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund.
Alex Pumfrey, CEO of The Film and TV Charity, said: “The film and TV industry is now facing a huge threat. Many freelancers have seen their livelihoods disappear overnight. We’re entering a period of unprecedented isolation and worry for a workforce that we know from our research already suffers from poor mental health.
“Which is why I’m incredibly pleased that Netflix and the BFI are working with us to kick-start this new Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund to support workers across the UK’s film and TV industry.”
Ben Roberts, BFI chief exec, added: “Freelance professionals are the backbone of our film and television industries, and we hope that everyone will work together to support those who have been hardest hit at this extraordinary time of need. Netflix’s early commitment to this fund is hugely welcomed and we are asking other commercial industry partners to contribute, if they are able, and play their part in helping those most in need get through this crisis.”
Anne Mensah, Vice President, Original Series at Netflix, said: “From electricians to carpenters, hair and makeup artists to drivers – and many more, UK crews have always been vital to Netflix’s success and now we want to help those freelancers who most need support in these unprecedented times.”
The Film and TV Charity, which was founded in 1924, is also developing new advice for the freelance community. The charity already provides 24/7 mental health support to the industry, including counselling and legal advice, via the Film and TV Support Line in the UK on 0800 054 00 00.
The BFI is also leading an industry wide ‘Screen Sector Task Force’ that is looking at the wide-ranging impacts of Covid-19.
Netflix’s donation is part of a broader announcement last week to set up a $100m fund for creatives whose jobs have been affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Most of the funds will go towards support for the hardest hit workers on Netflix’s own productions around the world and is in addition to the two weeks’ pay they already committed to the crew and cast on productions that have been suspended.