If next year is like this year can we have 90 days in April please?

As mentioned in one of my early blogs, February and March was a little bit slow workwise. Not as slow and some have suffered, I must say, the stories of people having only had a couple of days this year are still floating about. Fingers crossed for you guys; I hope the year turns around for you soon.
I’m back on the Factories merry-go-round for the whole of April, same sort of schedule as January, travel Monday, shoot Tuesday to Thursday and return travel Friday, meaning that my only real availability is the weekend.
The phone calls, email and contacts I’ve had to shoot in April have been off the chain, from one or two days on  VT projects through to week shoots on longer form docos, they’ve all come in looking for my availability in April. From having 5 or 6 days in both in February and March I could have worked April twice over and still had to be unavailable for some.

What’s this all about? What’s causing it? Brexit? The economic uncertainty around where we are going and what we are doing making people hang on to their cash until the new financial year and then starting either the commissioning rounds or getting people out shooting?
Does it mean that TV work will become seasonal?
There are usually times of the year you can guarantee aren’t going to be “High Turnover Months”. December and January are always the ones when you look in the diary you can think, well December that might be a 2 and a half week month, how likely am I to be shooting up to the 20 something, or how much do I want to be shooting up to the 20 something of the month at the very least.
January, when will the production Offices open up again?
Say for argument sake the 5th, by the time people get back to work properly could easily be the 10th? Going out on location? Maybe the 15th? You’d be doing well to walk away with 10 days work if you were starting the month with an empty diary.

BUT. Are we starting to see TV being very quiet, for everyone not just technical crew – I’ve been seeing posts from PM’s, PD’s, Series Producers and Edit Producers all saying the same thing, “If you are looking for………….. I’m available!”  - from the start of December through till April? That would be a huge change in the way the industry works.

Seemingly the filming season 2.0 is April 1st to December 1st (longer than the Yukon/Klondike Gold Mining season, more of that later and I promise it has a relevance too) in this time you have to make enough money to have a cushion to go through the fallow times of Dec – April.
Easy right? Sounds it.
You’ll be well rested coming into April; you will have been watching the accounts but you’ll have been able to catch up with all your non-TV friends as you’ll have a near normal diary for a good few months meaning that you’ll be around for the impromptu gatherings that you have become accustomed to missing on a regular basis.
You’ll be enthusiastic, the time away from the TV grindstone will make you appreciate what a great privilege it can be to work in this industry.
Sounds Brilliant doesn’t it? Brilliant but how realistic?

A lot of this can be true, look at the guys that work in those Gold Mines, they smash through the work from April till Mid Oct and then go traveling for the winter getting themselves ready for another flat-out summer.
What needs to be remembered in this example is that the Canadian Government understands that people in remote parts of Canada have little opportunity to work through the winter as the weather is so inhospitable that few industries can continue to function. As an example that I know only too well, you can’t gold mine in Winter as the ground is frozen, you can’t get to the Pay Dirt, if you had prepped the ground you wouldn’t be able to dig it out, even if you could, the water for the wash plant is now ice, the tailings ponds are massive, super ice cubes, any water that isn’t moving at great pressure in the wash plant will freeze in the pipe and it’s so cold the rubber belts on the conveyor will freeze to the rollers whether its turning or not, all this adds to not being able to wash any rocks, the Gold won’t be going anywhere but you won’t be taking any of it either.
With all this in mind Canadians have a kind of Tax refund deal, where if you work in a “seasonal work area” for the entire summer they’ll look after you through the Winter. The Guys who have been driving rock trucks or feeding wash plants all Summer aren’t just surviving on what they earnt & saved through the season, the Government is topping them as well. Which makes the whole thing a little easier and should mean less grey hairs for everyone.

So, TV becomes seasonal, what’s going to be the main stumbling block? I think, after seeing the amount of stuff that I’ve had to turn away, it’ s the fact that come what may, you can only be in one place at a time. Looking at what you need to turn over you might have to be in a position of having to work on two jobs a day. That simply isn’t going happen is it. Is the answer to that people in TV all getting a rise so that we can make enough with the work that can go around in the “hot period” of April – Dec? I think you’ll have more chance of working every day with two jobs than getting the latter.  That kind of pay increment for all just isn’t going to happen.

After the belt tightening and budgeting, I think you’ll still be left dealing with the biggest hurdle. Cash Flow.

Cash Flow is the main cause of many businesses failing, irrelevant of size. Every business has a cash flow breakdown, when your money comes in and goes out.
It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve got outstanding in invoices if the amount of cash you have in the bank means you can’t put fuel in the car to get to the next job or pay this months rent/mortgage.
Imagine having to go from having a reasonable steady income, when you look at it over the year, to going to entire seasons of famine and feast, feast and famine. I think that would be the financial breaking of some people. Not to mention the drastic changes in some people relationships.

I shall be keeping my fingers crossed that TV location sound recording, along with all the TV jobs out there, will remain a 12 month a year job, as well as for my family cash flow, I quite like filming in January and December. Cold, Dark mornings suit me better than the hot days of summer.

On a slightly lighter note, my train of thought then took me to what I would do in the “TV Off Season”, but that’s the subject for another blog I think.

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