UK Film & TV Welfare Association Launches In Wake Of Death Of John Balson

TV

A film and TV welfare association has been launched in the wake of the tragic death of John Balson.

Screendog Head of Production and Welfare Fiona Fletcher, Jude Spencer, the founder of Dolly Mental Health, and psychologist Howie Fine are behind the new initiative, which has sprung up swiftly following this week’s devastating news.

With the continuing rise in demand for true crime and reality TV, the initiative will address issues surrounding duty of care and welfare in the industry. It said it is dedicated to “supporting productions in delivering the highest possible standards of duty of care, mental health and well-being for all contributors, staff and crew.”

A set of principles, which can be read in full below include establishing best practices around mental health, developing industry standard guidelines and being a champion for welfare budgets. The association also called for more duty of care training, welfare producers and conversations with regulators.

As the Film and TV Welfare Association prepares for its official launch in September, it is inviting broadcasters, streamers and industry leaders to join the initiative and email: info@ftvwa.org. A duty of care, mental health and wellbeing panel is schedule to take place upon its launch.

“I’m thrilled to be working with Jude and Howie at such a critical time in the industry, and I’m confident that with support from the broadcasters, the FTVWA can make a big and lasting impact,” said Fletcher, who works for the producer behind Channel 4’s The Jury: Murder Trial.

Deadline revealed on Tuesday that Balson had taken his own life a few weeks after working on Channel 4’s In the Footsteps of Killers. Channel 4 is investigating the circumstances surrounding his death.

Speaking to Deadline after our article came out, Balson’s widow said his life is “now a legacy,” and called his death a “failure of the industry.”

The principles

  • Establish Best Practices: Develop, promote, and implement industry-wide best practices for duty of care and mental health to protect and support everyone working in Film and TV.
  • Promote Ethical and Fair Treatment: Supporting productions to deliver the best possible treatment and support for all crew and contributors, providing rigorous duty of care protocols throughout production.
  • Develop Industry Standard Guidelines: Create and promote industry welfare procedures for all stages of production: pre-production, production, post-production, and aftercare.
  • Champion for Welfare Budgets and Provide Industry Training: Consult with broadcasters and streamers to champion budget provisions for training of Execs, SPs, PMs, Welfare Producers, and casting teams. Deliver gold-standard training courses with key industry leaders and provide training certification for production companies and Welfare Producers.
  • Collaborate with Leading Production Psychologists: Establish best practices when working with vulnerable contributors through consultation with leading production psychologists.
  • Build a Network of Support: Offer a network of support for production companies implementing mental health and well-being strategies. Foster a strong, supportive network among TV producers, contributors, cast and crew. Encouraging collaboration, mentorship, and mutual support.
  • Provide Member Services for Welfare Producers: Serve as a hub for Welfare Producers, offering resources and support.
  • Promote Mental Health and Duty of Care Training: Offer training for senior staff in production companies to ensure a culture of well-being and safety throughout the organisation.
  • Champion Positive Change: Advocate for improvements in duty of care, mental health, and well-being within the Film and TV industry.
  • Consult with Regulatory Bodies: Campaign for improvement and expand regulations and guidelines for producers working with contributors.
  • Collaborate with Other Organizations and Research Projects: Partner with research initiatives and organisations focused on the safety and care of contributors and crew in the TV industry, such as ReCare TV the Coalition for Change and the Film and TV Charity.

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