How did the Covid-19 pandemic impact the film and video making industry in the UK?
Here at Peli UK we serve customers in a wide range of industries. One of the sectors hit hardest by pandemic was Film, Photo & Sound. We caught up with a few professional videographers to find out about their experiences during the pandemic, and what impact Covid-19 has had, and continues to have, on the industry.
The first national lockdown in March of 2020, meant hugely negative changes to the workload of most videographers. Some of the professionals we interviewed felt that large parts of the creative community were abandoned, and that financial help was sporadic and nonsensical at times.
Filmmaker and Freelance Cameraman
Jon is an award-winning videographer specialising in creating films and capturing stories for brands and broadcast.
Jon Collins told us, "Many people like myself, who at one time were encouraged to set up limited companies to ensure correct National Insurance contributions were made, [were] completely abandoned when it came to implementing financial support packages."
With the government introducing social distancing guidelines and a huge push on hands, face, space, the industry naturally had to adapt accordingly. Ultimately some changes needed to be made on set.
Many of Jon's shoots featured a dedicated COVID Officer. "In some ways being a self-shooting director did help, as I was able to go into spaces that a full crew could not", he told us. "Although walking into people's houses and immediately taking their temperature to ensure they were not infected was a very bizarre situation!".
Filmmaker and Videographer
Julian is a London-based freelance filmmaker with over 15 years of experience in broadcast and post-production.
Julian Langham made sure he was working in a COVID compliant way and having a COVID related conversation with clients before any filming session. I worked according to the new guidelines and underwent temperature checks and COVID tests as required."
We were interested to know how our filmmakers and videographers found shooting with PPE, with Paul feeling that it was an adjustment at first that then became almost unnoticeable while filming.
"After a long day of wearing it, you definitely notice it when you take it off, but it's there for a reason, which is to keep people safe, so no complaints from me."
Filmmaker and Videographer
Paul is an award-winning Videographer & Filmmaker covering all aspects of video, particularly commercial film. Paul's clientele includes The National Maritime Museum, Microsoft and Hugo Boss.
As we come out of the pandemic and adjust to a new normal, Jon's clients have seen how video can help their businesses. "With budget still there to be spent, I hope that the next few months will keep up the current momentum of work."
With the pandemic leaving a lot of people without work suddenly we were interested to know how their jobs were affected, or if they ever considered a career change.
Julian felt that during the UK's first lockdown, everything stopped for most businesses and freelancers. Organisations, businesses and individuals needed to find new ways to communicate.
For some, this meant using video in different and new ways to share information with their client base and audience."
Jon says that someday his luck will run out and that he'll "have to get a proper job and stop mucking about with cameras". But for now, he'll keep on shooting...
With opinions divided on what could or should have been done to support the industry during the pandemic, the consensus from those we interviewed was that freelancers and the self-employed were not offered proper financial support until later in the pandemic.
Filmmaker and Cinematographer
Tom is a Videographer and Cinematographer with over eight years of experience worldwide, shooting brand and travel video content for clients including Facebook and Michael Kors.
Tom's opinion was that "Furlough definitely helped, but I'm sure a lot of small business owners and freelancers may have fallen through the criteria gaps."
Similarly, Paul thinks, "[financial support] should have been offered to self-employed freelancers at the start. The arts certainly suffered but you can see people are now spending money on the theatre, cinema, live music and events so hopefully the industry will recover."
With restrictions now eased, videographers have had to adapt to the new normal. Tom has seen a huge uptake in work, which he feels has been really encouraging. We've been pretty much fully booked for the last three months which has been wonderful.
He went on to explain that prior to Covid-19, a lot of his work was international, however, even once all restrictions have been lifted across the globe, Tom thinks the fallout from Brexit will become more obvious. It's more expensive for clients to send us to Europe now because we have to get carnets for all of the equipment. It's also still not really clear whether short-term work in the EU will require things like visas, whereas before we could hop on a plane and be in Paris for a project the next day.
With such a long time out of work it was always unlikely everything would bounce back. Paul thinks It's going to take some time to fully recover long term, but is positive we'll get there eventually. Video is such an important tool so I can't see it going anywhere."
The pandemic had such a negative impact on the majority, but Julian did manage to take a positive from the situation. "During the lockdown, I took the opportunity to learn new skills and caught up with my list of things to do."
Peli UK would like to thank all the videographers that took the time to help give us an insight into the impact the pandemic has had on the industry. We wish all of you, and any other small businesses that have struggled over the last 18+ months, all the best for 2022.