Wellbeing facilitators to get additional funding on BFI-backed productions

The additional funding is for a dedicated role to champion and facilitate a positive working culture, prioritising cast and crew wellbeing.

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Additional funding will be provided for wellbeing facilitators on projects backed with BFI Film Fund production funding, the BFI announced today. Made possible with National Lottery funding, and working with 6ft From The Spotlight, the role aims to champion and facilitate a positive working culture, as well as being an independent point of contact for any issues – including stress, bullying and harassment, discrimination, and adult safeguarding – throughout the lifecycle of the production. 

Wellbeing facilitators join productions from the outset, dedicated to fostering a positive working culture from the top down, and ensuring support is available to those who need it. They have a regular physical presence on set so they are visible and accessible, but the role is set up to maintain independence from the core team, which is vital so everyone – at all levels, across the entire cast and crew – feel able to approach them in confidence. 

The work of wellbeing facilitators differs from production to production, but core responsibilities include advising producers and heads of departments on how to prevent stress and mental health issues arising, to support them in meeting their legal duty of care to cast and crew. They also assist in implementing the BFI bullying and harassment guidance and principles, act as a mediator to resolve issues if necessary, as well as coaching newly promoted crew and those supervising a team for the first time. Wellbeing facilitators are not counsellors or therapists, but can refer and signpost to support and resources. 

The BFI initially introduced the role onto projects in production in 2021 and have explored various ways to embed this support and skillset into the team. The role continues to evolve in consultation with industry.

The collaboration with 6ft From The Spotlight also sees training for new wellbeing facilitators. The course covers mental health and the law and mental health risk policy, dealing with bullying and harassment, resilience and intervention, stress risk assessment, positive psychology, and psychological safety. 

“Turning the tide on poor working practices in our industry is a collective endeavour and one we are all responsible for,” said Jennifer Smith, BFI’s head of inclusion. “The introduction of the wellbeing facilitator builds on our existing guidance and principles to prevent bullying, harassment and racism and provides additional invaluable support to producers and heads of department to put wellbeing front and centre of their productions. Our goal is that this role becomes normalised across industry, because a positive and safe working environment is essential in order to retain our existing talented workforce and to attract new people to the sector.” 

“Time and money is often tight on independent productions, but that cannot result in compromising the lived experience of our workforce,” said Fiona Morham, BFI’s head of production. “The nature of these projects can make it challenging to implement formal policies and procedures, so we wanted to bring that expertise into the heart of productions. Where we’ve already piloted this role, our filmmaking teams have benefited, but we are also aware its remit is not fixed and we are continuing to develop the role with industry to ensure everyone working on productions can access the support they need.”

“We at 6ft From The Spotlight are proud to be working with the BFI on this important project,” said Matt Longley, co-founder of 6ft From The Spotlight. “We believe the overall wellbeing of crew and cast is a key factor in producing quality content in a sustainable and safe way, which is why we’ve been developing this role for the past four years. It is gratifying it is receiving more industry recognition, as the presence of a wellbeing facilitator on set is a major step towards helping productions to meet their duty of care and enable a brilliant creative process concurrently.”

“Having Matt Longley on board as our wellbeing facilitator for Scrapper proved to be a major coup,” said Theo Barrowclough, producer of BFI-backed Scrapper. “We were blessed with a brilliant crew, but even in those cases, every production needs to constantly hold itself up to being an inclusive and safe place to ply your craft. Matt’s presence on set as someone the crew knew they could seek out, speak to confidentially and resolve issues with, made a big difference to me as a producer.”

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