Netflix funds BFI scheme to help industry freelancers

The streaming giant Netflix has put £1m behind a relief fund, set up by the BFI and The Film and TV Charity, to support creatives in the industry whose livelihoods have been devastated by the global response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The BFI will administer the Coronavirus relief fund for the Film and TV Charity.

With all UK cinemas closed and gatherings of more than two people banned, no-one is able to watch or make films, leaving the largely freelance workforce wondering how they will make enough money to survive.

The government has announced measures to pay 80% of the salaries of employed workers, up to a maximum of £2500 per month. But this scheme has not been extended to workers who cannot reliably demonstrate how much they might have been paid had more job offers come in.

It’s been suggested that the government could make a payment based on previous income tax declarations, but the Treasury is still considering how to improve of its current offer; a beefed up Universal Credit.

The Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund will provide short-term help to thousands of active workers who’ve been directly affected by the closure of productions across the UK.

Alex Pumfrey, from The Film and TV Charity said we were entering “a period of unprecedented isolation and worry for a workforce that we know from our research already suffers from poor mental health.”

The money from Netflix is part of a wider global fund its set up to help industry workers affected by the pandemic – targeting most of its support towards creatives on its own productions. Anne Mensa, from Netflix, said, “UK crews – from electricians time carpenters, hair and makeup artists to drivers – 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 chief executive of the BFI, Ben Roberts, said, “Netflix’s early commitment to this fund is hugely welcomed and we’re asking other commercial industry partners to contribute, if they are able, to play their part in helping those most in need get through this crisis.”

The new fund will be open to those working in production, distribution and exhibition but the precise eligibility criteria and level of individual funding is still under consideration.

In the meantime, the Film and TV Charity is making stop-gap payments available from its existing hardship fund.

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.  Netflix’s donation to the Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund and to other organisations around the world is to provide emergency relief to out-of-work crew and cast across the broader film and television industry in the countries where Netflix has a large production base.