A new U.K. campaign is calling for urgent action to support the families of film and TV workers by allocating budget lines for childcare.
Led by childcare facility and mobile nursery The WonderWorks, the ‘Keeping Families in Film’ campaign has garnered support in the form of an open letter, signed by major figures such as Keira Knightley, Cillian Murphy, Hayley Atwell, Lizzy Caplan, Alfred Molina and Jodie Whittaker, along with organizations including Time’s Up and union Bectu. The letter (full text below) asks studios, production companies and industry leaders to raise awareness of the lack of childcare within the film and TV industry, and take steps to stop talent leaving the field due to the demands of parenthood.
The campaign encourages productions to become more family-friendly, with the goal of every production putting a line in their budget for childcare by 2024.
The WonderWorks was founded by actor Charlotte Riley (“Press,” “Peaky Blinders”) and business partner Mark Radcliffe, who last year launched the country’s first dedicated on-site childcare facility at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden. Both identified the issue after witnessing the effects of a lack of suitable childcare within the film and TV industry.
The WonderWorks nursery was set up to provide flexible, accessible, Ofsted-registered care to the children of those working on productions in the U.K.
According to a report by British org Raising Films, 79% of film workers felt having children had negatively impacted their careers. A separate “Women’s Progression in the Workplace” report by the Government Equalities Office specifically highlighted the film and television industry as one where women with children described the impossibility of obtaining childcare due to the unpredictable nature of their work.
Riley said: “The aim of The WonderWorks’ Keeping Families In Film campaign is to reach industry decision makers, asking them to make childcare a top priority on productions, as well as empowering those in the industry to speak up and have open conversations with their employers. Productions are finding it harder than ever to secure crews due to demand, so it’s vital that we keep talented people working in order for the industry to thrive.
“As an industry we take pride in how well we train our teams. People work so hard in the early years of their career to hone their skills and then, just as they are starting to get established, find that they can’t sustain a career in production once they become parents. It’s time to address the inequality in our industry — we need to keep families in film,” continued Riley.
Read the open letter below:
DEAR STUDIOS AND PRODUCTION COMPANIES IN THE U.K.,
Those who work in film and TV know that life is not always easy. They know that work is unpredictable, often changed at the last minute, and that the hours are often variable. They know they will need to make some sacrifices in order to do the job they love and have worked hard to become skilled at, be that in front of or behind the camera.
What they don’t know is that at one point in their career, some will find that they have to make a choice between staying in ‘the dream job’ or starting a family. We believe that this is not a choice that should have to be made, which is why we are asking for your support to bring change. Without flexible and accessible childcare, equality and inclusion within the film and TV industry cannot be achieved.
This is an issue that affects both men and women within the industry. 79% report feeling that having a child negatively impacts their career progression, with 63% working freelance or self-employed and citing financial stability as a major concern*. This means that regular childcare solutions often do not work.
Our mission is to make the film and TV industry more accessible for families, meaning we do not lose highly talented people over an issue that should – and can – be solved.
We are calling on industry leaders to not only acknowledge that a lack of high-quality, flexible childcare is creating a barrier, but that action needs to be taken by industry decision makers to bring about change.
We are asking industry leaders to make on-set childcare solutions a priority; be they full nursery spaces for major productions, or assistance with childcare provisions for smaller productions. We want to see a line in every budget for childcare, and we need your help to make this a reality.
THE WONDERWORKS TEAM