Industry training body Screenskills is fast-tracking new training to help film and high-end television return safely to production.

The intention is that free online basic training will be ready to roll out within weeks and that crew members will undertake the training before they return to set or location.

ScreenSkills is partnering with Skills for Health, a not-for-profit organisation that is well-known within the health sector and is already working with the NHS and other sectors to provide training for the Covid-19 crisis, and First Option, established safety consultants to the entertainment industry.

The work is being supported by the ScreenSkills High-end TV Skills Fund with contributions from high-end television productions and the BFI, awarding National Lottery funds as part of its Future Film Skills strategy.

The immediate aim is to ensure everyone working on a production, irrespective of their role, has access to basic health and safety understanding to operate in the context of Covid-19.

Seetha Kumar, ScreenSkills’ chief executive, said: “We are working swiftly to support the industry in what it needs to know and do to get back to work while operating safely in the new environment. The numbers of people and equipment and the often close physical contact involved in making film and television means we must all work together to make sure any risks are managed and minimised.”

Christine Healy, chair of the ScreenSkills HETV Skills Fund and head of production, New Pictures, said: “The HETV industry is working hard to put in place the steps needed to get back into production as soon as we are able… We’ve got to make sure we are giving our workers information so that they know how to stay safe and well in this changed filming environment.”

Iain Smith, chair of the ScreenSkills Film Skills Fund and founder of Applecross Productions, said: “I am really pleased that ScreenSkills is taking the lead in putting together the vital training the industry needs and supporting the return to work.”

Separate work is under way in unscripted television to produce a package of support for programme makers producing content during lockdown.  This work is being supported by the TV Skills Fund, with contributions from the BBC, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

Jon Creamer