Behind the Screen by Terry Bamber

Today we started work in the studio at 0900 a.m. knowing we were scheduled to finish at 23.00 p.m. A lot of the Day Team were already hard at work, as we settled in to continue with preparations for the first day of filming. I have known one of our team since 2012, but we had not worked together for a long time. So, I was dismayed to learn I had missed his birthday the previous day. I caught up with him to pass on my best wishes, but discovered he wasn’t in the mood to celebrate, as his father had passed away only a week previously. He had not told anybody about his bereavement, as he knew the team had a tight deadline. He didn’t want anything to deflect from that. This really brought home to me how important it is that we always treat each other with respect and dignity as we go about our work, as we do not always know what an individual is going through and hiding from colleagues.

A few years ago, I met two extraordinary gentlemen who had served Britain with outstanding military careers. They wanted to work in the film and TV industry. I wanted to try and help them find work. We have since worked on three projects and have made significant strides in helping them find the careers they want. Unlike my colleague who is physically able, they have sustained injuries that are only too clear to be seen by their workmates. They have faced ignorance and a patronising attitude from some crew members who can only see their physical issues, rather than understand that their background gives them the perfect abilities we all strive for in the production of films and TV.

It is so pleasing to see so many working towards creating space for physically disadvantaged individuals who have much to offer. We need to do the same with those who suffer from debilitating mental issues as well. In our industry we have many publicity teams filming behind the scenes and showing how stunts and SFX are planned and achieved. We also need to see behind the screen that so many put up as a mask to hide their issues. In the digital age, we rarely shoot on film and “checking the gate” is now just a part of our history; but we must continue to “check the screen and what lies behind it”.

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