How film & TV freelancers are regaining control of their careers

By breaking down barriers created by nepotistic hiring practices

Commonly the conversation around inclusion in film & TV centres on Studios, commissioners, production companies and hirers — what are they doing to change film & TV’s trajectory? Rightly so, these groups have great power and the opportunity to drive inclusion forward, or maintain the status quo. But what about the huge freelance workforce in question?

What do they want? What do they need to thrive? When we began investigating one overarching theme became clear; Crew want greater control of their career.

There was a shared sentiment that breaking into the industry, or a new category like high end TV (HETV) was out of reach unless you have an existing network to leverage. The best roles and certain categories like HETV are barricaded behind a wall of nepotistic hiring practices seeing these roles rarely advertised, filled instead within a closed circle network. The outcome? Crew have no visibility to make choices about their career. No opportunity to side step into a new department or category. Without the insight and access to jobs that come from being in the right network, Crew were limited to the jobs advertised with no mechanism to break into the essential networks to obtain the career they wanted.

At POP we believe technology has the potential to be the great leveller, bringing opportunity to those who deserve it, connecting great people and providing the technology through which to analyse what is actually happening across the industry. In the Crew setting we saw that tech could break down barriers created by nepotistic hiring practices as well as equip Crew with the tools they need to proactively seek the career they want.

The Crew Community

The Crew Community gives freelancers access to the Jobs Board, Insights and Network.

Jobs

Already in 2020 170 HETV roles have been advertised on the Jobs Board — a feat considering that production was shut down for more than a quarter of the year. The calibre of roles on our Jobs Board is reflective of our connections within the industry. More than 70% of UK background casting in 2020 used POP tech while some of UK’s leading production companies behind shows like Killing Eve, Ackley Bridge and Peaky Blinders use POP’s Production technology to run all their shows.

The Jobs Board gives Crew control of their career — to see what’s available, plan out their next step and stop relying on their network for their next opportunity.

Notifications

Crew are instantly notified when a role matches their profile. Giving them the freedom to focus on their present role or take much needed time off without spending hours searching social groups and calling old contacts for the next opportunity.

Networking

Film and TV is a network based industry, at least for now. Rather than fight this we are equipping Crew and hirers to break down barriers created by nepotistic hiring practices while we all work towards a more inclusive future.

The nature of fast paced production often requires hiring at short notice (leading to hiring from within a closed circle network). To counter this we launched virtual networking — a chance for Crew to meet 1-on-1 with hirers in their desired category and project type. To date we’ve hosted 6 sessions, with Crew and hirers on average rating the sessions 4.8/5. Two of these sessions were hosted in partnership with Sid Gentle Films, Mammoth Screen, Lookout Point and The Bureau for Production Office and Camera Department specific sessions.

Find out more about virtual networking and how to get involved here.

Insights

If Crew have taken a break and aren’t on set, are looking to break into a new category or don’t have a network to draw upon it’s hard to be kept in the loop. The Crew Community keeps Crew up to date with what’s shooting, when, and where as well as the latest industry news and initiatives — keeping them connected and informed.

Community

With over 7,000 UK Crew, POP’s Crew Community is the space for Crew to go beyond their personal network to meet new Crew and hirers, as well as stay connected to the community. During production’s shut down the Facebook Group especially became a place for Crew to ask questions, stay up to date, remain connected and support each other.

The feedback we’ve had has been overwhelmingly positive. Crew are regaining control of their career, equipped with the tools they need to progress or break into a new category.

“The experience was great. Things change so quickly and I very much appreciated the continued service from POP and that I was kept in mind which landed me the job on Gangs of London”

Nancy Jiang, Production Coordinator, ‘Gangs of London’

This is just the beginning. We’re currently exploring how each individual Crew member can contribute to creating an inclusive industry as well as how we can partner with organisations already doing great work in this space. Data also represents a unique opportunity to analyse what’s actually happening on set, where change is needed, and actioning that change.

We look forward to continuing to partner with the industry to facilitate the change we need to see for a smarter, fairer future for entertainment.

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