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At last the new film agreement arrives

A new agreement for big budget film is introduced on 2 April 2018.

29 March 2018

After more than five years of talks, the UK film industry gets its first collective agreement for big budget film on 2 April. Time now to celebrate this achievement which establishes a common set of conditions for all departments and, equally importantly, a place from which to build for the future, says BECTU.

The agreement, between the producers association PACT and the union on behalf of the employers and the workforce, applies to all feature film productions with a production budget equal to or in excess of £30m which start principal photography from 2 April 2018.

Prior to this agreement, generally speaking, the absence of common conditions had been a source of uncertainty, disagreement and disunity, albeit in a major sector of film-making which continues to deliver revenue grow year on year.

One set of conditions

The new agreement introduces a base for equal treatment on conditions of engagement across departments, with few exceptions, with agreed definitions on the working day and the working week, overtime, work on 6th and 7th days, rules around pre-dawn calls and night work, broken turnarounds, rest breaks, bank holidays and travel. One symbolic win was the removal of the 15 minute 'grace period' available to the director. Now crew will be paid if the director needs to continue shooting. 

BECTU believes the new rules will dramatically improve the reward system on big budget film compensating people more fairly for the demands of the job and the flexibility which is required. 

Download the agreement

Long hours willl continue

Long hours will continue to be a factor (something which the union is campaigning on separately) however the workforce will be clearer about their rights and the penalties set out to address excessive demands will, BECTU hopes, lead to better decision making and to a better working environment. 

Commenting on the breakthrough, Spencer MacDonald, national secretary said:

"From 2 April 2018, we'll have an agreement which sets a really good industry standard for big budget film production in the UK for all departments. Our members voted overwhelming for the agreement and we want to hear how it's working so that we can monitor its implementation ahead of the planned review in 2019."

Future aims

BECTU wants to eliminate unpaid hours in this sector which have traditionally impacted on selected departments including hair and make-up and costume which both need to prepare for the day's shoot and to work on once the camera stops rolling. ADs, accounts, location, production, script supervision and VFX are also caught by the same rules. 

What the union has achieved is agreement on a maximum 30 minutes of unpaid time at either end of the day, putting a cap on the unpopular practice for the first time. Prep and wrap time is certain to be an issue the union will return to in future talks.

Travel time on location remains a controversial area too with many members wanting an improvement to the provision which allows for up to 60 miles travel a day within basic rates of pay.

Working with members and branches

"Where members and branches identify areas they want to see improved they're being encouraged to start gathering evidence now and to submit this to BECTU to support the review process," added Spencer MacDonald. Preparations for the review will begin in November ahead of the first anniversary in 2019.

Rates of pay 

Whilst the agreement establishes clear guidance on key conditions, rates of pay will still be determined officially by individual bargaining; the union's recommended rates for key grades, all determined by BECTU branches, will continue to be an important source of guidance. 

The new agreement also encompasses an agreed disputes procedure to help to resolve any issues which may emerge. 

BECTU is not alone in welcoming the agreement; it has broad support including from the British Film Commission and the Production Guild. Whilst officially the agreement comes into force on 2 April 2018, production of Wonder Woman 2 is already using the agreement. 

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