Writers’ strike: British film and TV workers forced to put homes up for sale due to US action | Ents & Arts News

Out of work British film and TV crew members are being forced to put their homes up for sale as a result of the knock-on effects of striking writers and actors in the US.

Philippa Childs, the head of entertainment union BECTU, said some people are considering changing careers.

“I’ve had people tell me they’ve got to sell their house, their cars, we had one of our reps the other day say she’s leaving the profession because she’s had enough ,” she said.

As a result of more than two months of A-lister battle, some of Britain’s busiest soundstages are now more like ghost towns.

Elle Moore, 24, an experienced production assistant, has struggled to book jobs.

“I’ve basically gone from two years of work, to on-off work this summer, to for the last six weeks no work at all. There’s just no work to look for.”

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Production Assistant Elle Moore
Production Assistant Elle Moore

With more than two-thirds of Britain’s total film spend coming from the US, the impact of hard-hitting Hollywood writers and actors – taking on the studio over issues including AI and repetitive waste – has been severe.

Graham Webb, managing director of construction specialist 4Wood, said: “It has absolutely brought large parts of the industry to a standstill and just after COVID it’s difficult.”

Specialists in high-end TV and film, they have bet on theater and live events to make up for lost work.

Side hustles like providing kit storage are a vital revenue stream.

“When it goes quiet and people struggle for less and less work in the market, it’s worrying for everyone,” Mr Webb added.

Graham Webb, managing director of construction specialist 4Wood
Graham Webb, managing director of construction specialist 4Wood

Fewer projects means fierce competition to book jobs on UK projects that can still shoot, and some workers report that certain production companies are taking advantage of the situation to undercut established wage rates.

Ms Childs from BECTU added: “The industry should not take advantage of the situation and they should pay prices people deserve.”

More than 30,000 people have signed a petition calling on the government to consider a furlough-style scheme for those who have been hit hard by the precarious nature of the contract work they do.

Ms Childs said: “Our message to the Government is that they need to put some mechanisms in place when things are difficult, otherwise they will lose the skills they desperately need.”

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But the government has said it has no plans to introduce an income replacement scheme, instead steering freelancers to the help already available to delay tax payments to HMRC through its Time to Pay scheme.

Anecdotally, Sky News spoke to several highly skilled film and TV workers who said they were now taking temporary work as delivery drivers or in bars just to cover their fitting bills.

For the 100,000 people employed directly and indirectly in British film, the uncertainty of how long the strikes will last is a terrifying prospect.

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