Why the APA is introducing a radical plan to improve welfare in ad production
At the APA, we are modifying advertising productions (that is to say any audiovisual advertising content) to respond to the problem of very long hours worked on certain shoots.
Our new policy is that production companies should not schedule shooting days longer than 12 hours. Even that is a long day, considering that some of the crew are there before the main unit’s call time and others after, and all have time to move around.
The trend towards longer and longer filming hours is mainly the result of budgets – production companies are offered scripts and budgets that can only be achieved with significant overtime. An example would be a scenario that requires two days of shooting and a budget that only allows one day, so to earn the work, the production company agrees to shoot in one, long day. Competition is good for any service buyer, but not if it comes at the expense of the health and well-being of the teams and production teams that do the work.
The pressure on production crews and crews was exacerbated by an exceptionally demanding period for people working on productions. This is due to the fact that the production of commercials for the UK market takes place primarily in the UK, rather than globally, compounded by the high demand for crews for movies and TV shot here.
Covid has also had the effect of causing many people to rethink their priorities, work-life balance and well-being, with a tendency to value time for themselves, including leisure and family, by working longer to earn more.
We are also introducing other conditions into our agreements with unions and teams, including paying production teams and people working Saturdays at one and a half times their daily rate. This still makes it possible to shoot on Saturdays if it is unavoidable to access a location, for example, but will help limit work to the work week more often, which together with a more manageable work day will preserve the good. -being of the crew.
The main goal, however, is to schedule a shooting day of no more than 12 hours (11 hours, plus an hour for lunch, which is often used to reset production goals for the afternoon) and do not go beyond it except in extreme circumstances. .
We need everyone on board to make it work and work with that in mind – advertisers, agencies, production companies, production crews and crews.
It’s up to us to explain these changes to advertisers and agencies and why we are introducing them and I think they will welcome them afterwards: the well-being of everyone associated with their activity is a commitment that most advertisers and agencies have already made or I believe will be ready to do if requested.
As with APA members, most advertisers and agencies are committed to minimizing the environmental impact of their business – and the brilliant AdGreen carbon calculator launched this week is a huge practical step for achieve it. Likewise, advertisers and agencies are committed to improving diversity within their organizations and encourage or require the companies they work with to make similar commitments. It is not possible to reflect the ethnic diversity of the UK in front of and behind the camera in most low cost production countries.
So while some productions will go overseas again, both for locations and for lower costs (of course London is a more expensive place to employ people on a production than in Bulgaria, for example) , I do not see a headlong rush to shoot abroad by responsible advertisers and agencies if the motivation is purely that in some countries there are no regulations on shooting hours or working time people. This would be incompatible with their values as brands / agencies and also with their environmental and diversity goals: around 80% of the carbon generated by overseas production comes from flights, so producing in the UK makes the difference between a green production and no.
Longer and longer shoots have crept into us because of commercial pressures; it’s time to rethink. We believe this is a practical plan to do so and urge the entire advertising industry to embrace it.
Steve Davies is Executive Director of APA