the media and entertainment union
a sector of Prospect
Eyes Half Shut report says long hours are damaging

16 October 2017

A BECTU report into long hours in film and TV production is calling for an industry-wide commission to address a culture which is harming the industry. BECTU issued the following press release today.

Long hours are damaging the UK film and TV industries – says BECTU report

BECTU has today published ‘Eyes Half Shut’ – a new report containing original research into long-hours working in the UK film and TV industries.

The research, now downloadable from the BECTU website, is based on a survey and interviews conducted with workers in the industry. It reveals a shocking working culture, and a widespread belief in the industry that these practices are the result of poor management rather than any genuine business need.

The research reveals that:

  • Depending on the department, between 61% and 75% or respondents believe that their heads of department need more training in people and management skills.
  • Nearly 90% of respondents said that “working long hours had a negative effect on their family lives” with those over forty years of age affected the most.
  • More than four out of five workers on films (and a similar number of TV workers) believe that the long-hours culture has an impact on their ability to do their jobs.
  • More than nine out of ten shooting crew respondents to the survey reported that they had, at some time, felt unsafe at work, or travelling to and from work, because of tiredness. 

Full details can be found here:

You can sign the petition to end long hours culture here:  

Head of BECTU, Gerry Morrissey said:

“Our research has turned up some shocking stories. The long hour culture damages family lives and causes ill health while doing the industry no good at all. I have spoken to workers in location-based prep-and-wrap departments – location managers, assistant directors, workers in hair and makeup or costume and wardrobe, who have told me about regularly working eighteen hour days. One editor told me about working for 27 hours continuously.

"There is also a real culture of ‘presenteeism’ and the research shows that three quarters of the people who responded to us think that they work in a job where no-one wants to be seen to be the first to leave.

"As a union, we are making headway. We have signed our first-ever TV drama sector agreement and we are about to start balloting on a feature film agreement. Both of these agreements codify overtime practices which is the first step in the right direction. However, this is an industry where freelancers believe themselves to have a weak bargaining hand. We think that – if they can stick together, and with the union’s help - the ‘take it or leave it’ culture in this industry can be challenged and these talented workers can feel like they have a stronger voice in their own industry.

"BECTU will be campaigning to challenge this long hours culture. I have today called upon UK industry chiefs to work with us on this problem. The union will be launching a petition to gather support for this position under the #eyeshalfshut hashtag and the union will be distributing badges and posters that workers in the industry can use to show their support.”

Industry folk are invited to join us the formal launch of the report on Wednesday 18 October at our BIG Crew event. Book a ticket here.


For more information contact Paul Evans on 0207 346 0900 or email

Editor’s note:

1) This research - an industry survey with over 500 participants - was commissioned at the request of a number of BECTU London Production branches who had already conducted informal surveys among their own members. This report can be downloaded from this page:
2) The printed version will be available at a large-scale open meeting on Wednesday 18 October at Regent Hall on Oxford Street (opposite John Lewis). Doors at 7pm (7:30pm start). Tickets are free and can be booked here:
3) Updates on this campaign can be found on the BECTU website at - badges and posters will be available to order from this website shortly.
4) Supporters are being asked to use or follow the #eyeshalfshut hashtag on social media and sign the petition calling for a commission at