The British Film Institute (BFI) will fund wellbeing facilitators on all projects that it backs, the organization confirmed today.
First introduced onto BFI productions in 2021, wellbeing facilitators are becoming increasingly popular in the industry as it seeks to tackle issues such as harassment and bullying.
Although they are distinct from counsellors and therapists, wellbeing facilitators are responsible for fostering “a positive working culture from the top down, and ensuring support is available to those who need it.” While their role is to be visible, wellbeing facilitators also maintain independence in order to ensure they remain accessible to cast and crew at all levels, who can approach them in confidence about any issue experienced on-set or off during production.
Projects backed by the BFI Film Fund’s production funding will now be able to access additional funding for the sole purpose of hiring wellbeing facilitators. The initiative has been provided via National Lottery funding with input from 6ft From The Spotlight who will provide training for current and wannabe wellbeing facilitators.
A wellbeing facilitator’s core responsibilities can include advising on stress, mental health issues, bullying and harassment, discrimination and adult safeguarding as well as helping producers and heads of department meet their legal duty of care in respect of casts and crews. They can even assist with managerial coaching, for example to newly promoted crew-members supervising a team for the first time.
Wellbeing facilitators can also implement the BFI’s Bullying & Harassment Guidance and Principles as well as acting as a mediator should the need arise.
“Turning the tide on poor working practices in our industry is a collective endeavour and one we are all responsible for,” said Jennifer Smith, BFI’s head of inclusion, in a statement. “The introduction of the Wellbeing Facilitator builds on our existing Guidance and Principles to prevent bullying, harassment and racism and provides additional invaluable support to producers and heads of department to put wellbeing front and centre of their productions. Our goal is that this role becomes normalised across industry, because a positive and safe working environment is essential in order to retain our existing talented workforce and to attract new people to the sector.”
Fiona Morham, BFI’s head of production, said: “Time and money is often tight on independent productions, but that cannot result in compromising the lived experience of our workforce. The nature of these projects can make it challenging to implement formal policies and procedures, so we wanted to bring that expertise into the heart of productions. Where we’ve already piloted this role, our filmmaking teams have benefited, but we are also aware its remit is not fixed and we are continuing to develop the role with industry to ensure everyone working on productions can access the support they need.”
Matt Longley, co-founder of 6ft From The Spotlight, said: “We at 6ft From The Spotlight are proud to be working with the BFI on this important project. We believe the overall wellbeing of crew and cast is a key factor in producing quality content in a sustainable and safe way, which is why we’ve been developing this role for the past four years. It is gratifying it is receiving more industry recognition, as the presence of a Wellbeing Facilitator on set is a major step towards helping productions to meet their duty of care and enable a brilliant creative process concurrently.”