Time for change
This is indeed a great tragedy but who are we if we do not learn from these mistakes.
Well done Amy, this can’t have been easy. at times it’s difficult to stick your head above the parapet but for the sake of everybody and their safety it is imperative that we all stop and take a breath.
You are correct in saying that as an industry we need to take training and career development seriously, we need to expect more and value those who have taken the right steps in order to achieve the next level through training and experience, this way “stepping up” is earned and valued.
We have the same issues with our Chaperones.
Whilst not considered crew they are then engaged to work as part of a production team and production never ask for an accredited certificate to prove competency within the DFE children’s working regulations, Or ask for child safeguarding certificates, mental health training, they do not check the DBS update service, they do not check if they have any Intimacy Coordinators basic awareness.
In my experience the only way to tackle this is to expect the best accept nothing less and to ensure that all of this is covered in prep. This is a truly amazing and wonderful industry and one that I am very proud to be part of. I had felt that during Covid things had slowed and we were taking serious steps to forge change, but as you say it looks like things are ramping up and when we rush anything accidents will happen, hearts and careers can be broken.
It can take us many years to get to where we are travelling to in our careers, but it can take us seconds to lose it!
This week we have seen another awful tragedy on a film set. I’m not going to comment on that particular incident other than to say Halyna Hutchins’ death was tragic and needless and my thoughts go out to her family & friends. What it does highlight though is the growing problem of people ‘stepping up’ or moving through the ranks to more senior roles too quickly.
The industry is incredibly busy at the moment, and shows no signs of abating any time soon. This has led to a serious shortage of crew in the UK, and in particular experienced senior crew. It takes time to build experience so there is no quick fix for this, so instead people are moving up (or being given opportunities way above their experience level) before they’ve had time learn properly. Combined with their enthusiasm, a willingness to please and the inevitable pressure of a set, this is when mistakes happen. Most often these mistakes just result in frustration, lost time or money, or shots and sequences not living up to expectations. But sometimes these mistakes end in accidents.
There is no substitute for experience, and whilst it may seem frustrating to have to work one’s way up, there’s a reason why it’s necessary to work under good people on a variety of shows at different budgets over a period of time. And when Producers hire inexperienced HODs, ADs, ACs etc, the junior crew under them are then learning from people who don’t know what they are doing, thus compounding the problem going forwards. Everyone needs a break at each stage of their career, but imho it should be earned and not gifted.
I’ve lost count of the amount of times in the last couple of years that I’ve been asked to take over from an AD on a major show that wasn’t up to the job. People being paid the equivalent of £70-90k a year within a couple of years of starting out, without the knowledge, skills, experience or confidence to work at that level of constant pressure that big shows bring. Of course they are going to jump at the chance, but it’s fools gold. They fuck up, it’s stressful for everyone and often they either burn out, bail or get fired. But without anyone experienced to replace them, the cycle continues.
Producers need to value experience and budget accordingly, and as an industry we need to take training and career development more seriously.
This industry can be a brilliant, beautiful and rewarding place to work, and build a life long career. Let’s not fuck it up by being in too much of a hurry.
RIP Halyna Hutchins.x