shifting the responsibility of our well being to us

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shifting the responsibility of our well being to us

Lee Cleary
As a 32 year and rising Assistant Director, I have long tried to protect my crew from working excessive hours. I have sometimes offered myself as the first to leave a Film Set as I am too tired to continue working, in hope that common sense would prevail and those 'more afraid' to speak up, had a reasonable out. I have often wondered where the hours came from. In England, in my teens, I remember that we worked 8.30am - 5.30pm. If a set up was not complete, the Asst Director would ASK for the 'emergency quarter' (15 minutes) and then the 'emergency half' to finish the set up. An Extended Day had to be advertised 3 days in advance and would usually add 2 1/2 hours to the work day in order to do a night exterior.
Now 14 hours is a 'standard day'....with the Hair/makeup/wardrobe depts and PA'S often doing much more. We know that paying overtime to Crew has become financially favorable than adding more days to the schedule, but I often question how? As Health and Safety has become more 'important' to the Studios over the year.... or as I refer to it shifting the responsibility of our well being to us in order to limit Legal Liability of the Studios in the event of accidents....the biggest safety issue of all is still taboo. In a recent Health and safety issue a 'Studio Suit" asked "How can we make your workplace safer?". A very high ranking heavyweight DoP replied.."Give us a 10 hour working day". The response should have been filmed.....
I have often been amazed that we, in the Film Industry, are not protected in any way by a 'National Workers Code" of any sort. For many years, if a building was condemned, had asbestos, was unfit for human habitation..it would become a Film Location or Film Studio...... For me there is no conspiracy to work us to death, many of my Director friends do not like working long hours any more than the rest of us. There is no one pushing at the Studios to make us work long hours just completing our Film in as short a time as possible. We all understand this. I commend you for bringing this to the table as I know that no Filmakers from the Studio Heads downwards want any harm to come to any of their brothers and sisters. It is simply a taboo to be broken by responsible people.
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Re: shifting the responsibility of our well being to us

Grant Smith
Thank You Lee, this is the number one health and safety issue in our industry....... when a film crew members are driving away at the end of multiple 15+ hour days....encroached turn around, shifting start times and Fraturdays you are as impaired as the guy who is behind the wheel after a stint at the bar....just sayin