Producing great films requires ‘all-encompassing’ safety and health

13 Mar 2019

Award-winning film makers say that maintaining the safety and health of workers during film production creates an environment where creativity can flourish – and is necessary for producing a great film.

The National Film and Television School’s (NFTS) Graduation Ceremony 2019 took place on 28 February following the School’s showcase event at Picturehouse Central, London which was sponsored by Netflix and ran for three days from the 25th of February and saw a range of films recognised for their creative achievements.

‘Misconduct’, a film exploring marital disharmony, was announced as the winner of the Health and Safety Management in Film Production Award, sponsored by IOSH's Thames Valley Branch.

The team, led by producer Tom Dexter and production manager Alana O’Neill, won the award for providing insights into their unique approach to the risk assessment process during the production of the film and how they were able to adjust working patterns as last-minute circumstances and the detail of arrangements changed.

“It was very important for us as producer and production manager to make sure that our cast and crew were safe whilst we were filming our graduation film, ‘Misconduct’ - it’s the ultimate form of respect for your colleagues,” says Tom.

“The key lesson we took away from the project is that health and safety must be all-encompassing. You can think of the obvious things, such as trip hazards, spillages, heavy equipment etc. but hazards can come from anywhere, even outside the parameters of your actual set.

“It’s important to not make assumptions when it comes to the safety and wellbeing of your team. I think the best approach to health and safety on any project is to think of each individual’s wellbeing in the same way that you would consider your own.”

'Misconduct' is a short comedy film about Annie and Daniel, a miserable middle-aged professional couple who want what they can’t have - but this doesn’t stop them pursuing their goals via any selfish, unsavoury means possible.

During production the team realised that safety management involves managing personalities, and particularly the tension between the film’s creatives and their desire to create something innovative. They recognised the need for their creative approach to film-making to not take place in a way which risked the safety of the crew or prevented the final film from being delivered on time and on budget.     

Chris Stops, Chair of IOSH’s Thames Valley Branch’s judging panel for NFTS, said: “Tom and Alana were worthy winners because of the way in which they were able to identify and then exploit and manage the creative tensions within their team. 

“The IOSH judging panel always relish the opportunity and privilege of working with the NFTS students. We never cease to be amazed by their range of skills and creativity which we do not encounter elsewhere in our professional lives. It also gives us an opportunity gently guide and influence their perceptions of health and safety and how they can use it to their advantage during their careers as film makers.”

Tom added: “It is vital everyone knows how to keep safe and that all procedures and regulations have been adhered to. Ultimately by maintaining everyone’s safety, you can create the environment in which creativity can flourish and that, at the end of the day, is what you need to produce a great film.”

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