02nd July 2020

ScreenSkills C19 elearning launchWe are proud to have been part of a collaborative partnership with ScreenSkills, the industry-led skills body for the UK's screen industries, and First Option, established safety consultants to the entertainment industry, to develop a free online coronavirus awareness course, launched this week, to support film and high-end television workers return safely to production.

As lockdown and social distancing rules are eased, every organisation has a duty to prepare its staff and workplace to operate within government guidelines and industry best practice. Furthermore, every individual has a responsibility, irrespective of their role, to do their part in ensuring a safe working environment by being aware of the risks of Covid-19, how it is transmitted, and how best to protect themselves and co-workers. Overcoming the new challenges facing an industry that saw at least £426 million worth of productions postponed, or suspended by the pandemic, is critical to the screen sector recovering.

As the leading elearning providers to the UK’s health and care sector, and developers of the NHS Core Skills Training Framework, we have developed the content, assessment, and the technological solution for the ScreenSkills ‘coronavirus basic awareness on production’ course, working with experts from First Option to develop these. Our own, freely accessible, Covid-19 online Awareness Course, developed in response to the outbreak, and delivered to front-line NHS, health, care and wider public sector professionals, has helped over 30,000 key staff receive vital training to keep them safe, since its release at the end of March.

Seetha Kumar, CEO ScreenSkills, said: “It was really important for us to have expert input in the design and implementation of this important training for the film and television industry and we were pleased to be able to draw on Skills for Health’s expertise in working with the NHS as well as other emergency services. This collaboration has meant we now have elearning to support workers in the screen industries in keeping themselves, their colleagues and their equipment safe in the often high-pressure environment of a set or location.”

The practical, interactive, and accessible 40 minute elearning module, plus a 20 minute test, addresses a range of issues now facing film and TV production and provides crucial information on how to reduce the risk of the spread of the virus on set. It covers clear potential hazards including transport, catering and the sharing of equipment and topics such as the monitoring of symptoms, social distancing, and sanitisation. It also importantly touches on how to effectively address the possible mental health implications of the Covid-19 risk.

Candace Miller, Executive Director, Skills for Health, said: “Skills for Health is delighted to have been able to participate in such an important and key training development in helping the screen industry re-activate within a Covid-19 world. It was such a pleasure to share our expertise in health sector skills development, elearning and assessment, and we are proud to have assisted ScreenSkills to move at pace, ensuring that everyone across the screen industries can learn about the new ways of operating and staying safe on set.”

The training was designed to complement the ‘Working Safely During Covid-19’ guidance developed by the British Film Commission (BFC) for film and high-end television and is also expected to help unscripted television work safely in the context of Covid-19. ScreenSkills High-end TV Skills Fund has supported the development, with contributions from high-end TV productions, and the BFI awarding National Lottery funds, as part of its Future Film Skills strategy.

Iain Smith, Chair of ScreenSkills Film Skills Fund, Chair of the BFC, and founder of Applecross Productions, said: “Covid-19 has changed how we must work. Film and TV production is a naturally collaborative medium and as such is potentially vulnerable to this virus. The objective is therefore to create as safe a working environment as possible whilst maintaining productivity and creativity. This will require clear methodologies and a disciplined approach from all departments, cast and crew. Everyone will have to adapt the new ground rules to suit particular departmental needs, whilst fulfilling the requirements of their scripts. Nothing can be taken for granted. I am really pleased that ScreenSkills is supporting the industry’s return to work by offering this vital training at this crucial time.”

The elearning module underwent testing last week and will be reviewed at regular intervals and updated if necessary. Industry figures who tested the training before launch have welcomed the learning tool as invaluable saying:

Daniel Alexander, of Daniel Alexander Films: “With so many concerns and obstacles around returning to a busy film set, I found this online training invaluable in providing clear and concise information on how to do so safely. The training will be something that I implement on all my productions moving forward. The clarity and well thought out coverage of the different areas of a production will make it a go-to resource for instilling confidence on set. This is highly recommended for anyone who may be wondering about the practicality of returning to work whilst protecting yourself and others in the process.”

Hilary Benson, director of production, Left Bank Pictures: “ScreenSkills’ new Covid-19 training course is a valuable tool to provide crew with insight into the disease, and what to expect in the ‘new normal’, when returning to production. It delivers practical information in a straightforward and educational way, whilst aiming to improve crew’s understanding of the implications of this disease and the role they must also play in mitigating its spread. Left Bank Pictures will be implementing this training across all our shows.”

Rachel Carter, deputy nursing sister and formerly on-set medical advisor Holby City: “This is a great introduction to Covid-19 and how to deal with it day to day on your production. It’s vital we know these basics to stop the spread. I highly recommend this training.”

Pat Lees, line producer (The Durrells, Apple Tree Yard, Cheat): “This is an excellent tool to introduce people to the basics of coronavirus prevention. It's full of facts and guidance and is concise so you keep on the learning journey without difficulty.”

Emma Pike, head of production, Two Brothers: “This training is excellent and pitched at just the right level. It should really help to set cast and crew expectations about what they're likely to have to deal with when returning to work. I also really like that it reminds the user throughout about the importance of personal responsibility as everyone's participation will be key in implementing the new guidelines and creating a safe working environment.”

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