What’s happened to working this summer?

After an amazing couple of years since COVID of “riding the tsunami of work” this year to date has been very strange. (I remember Summer 2021, when I got offered three jobs a week and, when finishing one job, got offered work straight away).

For those who haven’t worked in the industry for that long, the quiet times of the year are normally October to March. Most new people were simply not aware of this as the industry has pretty much always had productions rolling throughout the year.

There are a couple of reasons for the slow down and lack of productions;

– Cost of Living and inflation: price of materials, energy and food have all gone up. Budgets for some productions have increased by 15-20% in the past 6-12 months. All of those who are considering whether they can afford to make a show – major studios, broadcasters and streamers – are looking at their likely return. You will see lots of second series axed.

– Reduced/slow down in streamers subscriptions: as people are tightening their outgoings, streamers are losing subscribers. This has a long-term impact on production budgets.

– American writers union strikes (SAG): these have been going on for a while and there has been an extension in talks until July 2023. This has had an impact on the larger streamers and feature films. BBC and ITV streamers have not been impacted (but still have reduced budgets).

Don’t forget it’s impacting suppliers, subcontractors, locations, agencies, studios and many others…we are all in the same boat!
What can you do now to get work?

– Diversification: consider taking a step down, working elsewhere across the UK if you have bases in other regions. If you are new to the industry look at getting work in all departments by tailoring your CV. Look at other roles outside of the industry like in events and hospitality. It’s OK to leave the industry for a while and come back – no one is going to stop you and there will be opportunities to return.

– Connections: stay connected to those who you have worked with previously (both at the same level and those who you reported to). Set up your own way of staying in contact e.g social events, meeting for a drink – keep your name in the circle. There are new platforms like SixthDegree where you should get an online profile, for free!

– Stay Relevant: do online training via ScreenSkills, get qualified in those useful skills like driving licence, towing, forklifts, health & safety. During the past couple of years we generally have not had time to do these courses.

Overall and ending on a positive note, there will still be a need for good content as the expectations from audiences is greater than ever. Broadcasters and streamers can’t just continue to re-release and market old content.

I would anticipate a boom in the Autumn through into the winter.

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Oliver Laurenson-Gore