Netflix donates $1m to launch COVID-19 film and TV emergency relief fund

Netflix and Support Act have launched a COVID-19 film and TV emergency relief fund to help workers impacted by production shutdowns across Australia.

The streaming giant will donate $1m to Support Act in order to set up the fund, which will involve $1,000 grants being available to workers – including assistants, coordinators, technicians and operators, and many of whom are paid hourly as casuals, and work on a project-to-project basis – who are out of jobs due to the pandemic’s impact on the sector.

Locally, big productions including The Block, The Bachelor, Holey Moley, and Survivor have been paused in response to social distancing legal obligations. Ten’s Neighbours resumed filming at the end of April after a four-week break, and The Amazing Race will only be able to film domestically (even then, it’s unclear when state borders will be open).

Seven’s Big Brother ceased production temporarily after a crew member was exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, but successfully launched earlier this week. And many shows have had to can their live audiences, turning usually packed studios into eerily quiet and empty backdrops for hosts and contestants.

Then there’s been the impact on live sport, with the NRL and AFL only just returning, and the Tokyo Olympics postponed until next year.

All up, more than 119 productions – approximately $500m worth of content – have been cancelled or suspended, according to Screen Producers Australia.

“The Board of Support Act recognises the huge impact that COVID-19 has had on production personnel across all of the creative industries, and the strong alignment that exists between the music industry and the Screen Arts,” said Support Act CEO Clive Miller.

“We congratulate Netflix on this initiative and we welcome the opportunity to partner with them to help deliver these funds at this extraordinary time of need.”

Netflix is also making a donation to Support Act, which will go towards the organisation’s provision of crisis relief services to musicians, crew, and music workers, and its mental health activities available to arts workers across the country.

“We’re grateful to be able to work with Support Act to establish the Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund,” Netflix’s director of content for SEA and Australia, Myleeta Aga, said.

“We want to help those in the Australian screen industry who most need financial assistance, especially casual workers hit by the current crisis.”

In March, Netflix set up a US$100m fund for people whose jobs have been impacted by the pandemic. This investment has now increased to USD$150m. The Support Act donation is part of a $30m international hardship fund dedicated to providing emergency relief to out-of-work crew.

Applications for the $1,000 grants will open at 9am on Monday 15 June.


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