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Netflix U.K. Backs BFI, Film and TV Charity Fund to Support Creatives During Coronavirus

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Cheyne Gateley/Variety Intelligence Platform

Netflix is backing a new emergency relief fund set up by the British Film Institute (BFI) and The Film and TV Charity with a $1.2-million donation.

The new Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund will be administered by The Film and TV Charity with support from the BFI, and will provide emergency short-term relief to thousands of workers and freelancers who have been directly affected by the closure of productions across the U.K.

The London-based Film and TV Charity is currently working out the fund’s eligibility criteria and level of individual funding, though the fund will be open to those working in production, distribution and exhibition.

Netflix’s donation is part of the broader $100 million fund unveiled last week for creatives whose jobs have been affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. While $85 million of that larger fund was set up in the U.S., $15 million was allocated to third-party organizations, such as the BFI and Film and TV Charity.

It is understood that more funding partnerships are to be struck with European partners in the coming weeks.

The wider Netflix fund supports the hardest hit workers on the streaming giant’s own productions around the world, and is in addition to the two weeks’ pay the streamer has already committed to the crew and cast on productions that have been suspended.

Alex Pumfrey, CEO of The Film and TV Charity, said: “The film and TV industry is now facing a huge threat.
Many freelancers have seen their livelihoods disappear overnight. We’re entering a period of
unprecedented isolation and worry for a workforce that we know from our research already suffers from
poor mental health.”

Ben Roberts, BFI Chief Executive, added: ‘‘Freelance professionals are the backbone of our film and
television industries, and we hope that everyone will work together to support those who have been
hardest hit at this extraordinary time of need. Netflix’s early commitment to this fund is hugely welcomed
and we are asking other commercial industry partners to contribute, if they are able, and play their part
in helping those most in need get through this crisis.”

Anne Mensah, VP of Original Series at Netflix, said: “We’re proud to be working with the BFI
and The Film and TV Charity to support the hardest hit workers in TV and film production. From electricians
to carpenters, hair and makeup artists to drivers – and many more, UK crews have always been vital to
Netflix’s success and now we want to help those freelancers who most need support in these
unprecedented times.”

Elsewhere, the BFI is leading an industry wide Screen Sector Task Force that is looking at the wide-ranging impacts of Covid-19 on the whole industry and its workforce, as well as working closely with government to
ensure that all ramifications and impacts are considered.

Meanwhile, the Film and TV Charity has an additional hardship fund that is offering grants of up to $585 for stop-gap support. The organization also has a 24/7 mental health support line, which provides counselling as well as legal advice.

In the U.K., the government has yet to release sufficient support for the freelance workforce, which props up the creative industries. According to entertainment union Bectu, more than 7,000 freelance workers have written to their Members of Parliament (MPs) in less than 24 hours, asking them to back the union’s campaign to support freelancers during the coronavirus outbreak.

The union has been calling for substantial economic measures to protect their incomes following the government’s pledge to protect up to 80% of retained workers’ salaries.