The Directors & Editors Guild of NZ recently received from the Screen Women’s Action Group (SWAG) proposed recommendations for ‘Creating Culture Change Around Sexual Harassment In The Screen Industry’. You can view the document below.
The board of the Directors & Editors Guild of NZ supports the Screen Women Action Guild in their efforts to:
- Create a culture that eradicates sexual harassment in the screen industry,
- address power imbalances that allow inappropriate behaviour to occur, and go unreported, and
- develop processes for issues and complaints that are accessible, safe and effective.
We commend the work done by SWAG to date in this regard and believe that education is the most effective tool in achieving the desired outcomes.
The board of DEGNZ are in overall agreement with the recommendations document SWAG has provided. We wish though to highlight areas of concern to us, and in some cases suggest alternative options, which we have detailed below for our membership to review.
We welcome any input from you on this for board consideration, which you can direct to email@example.com.
DEGNZ has under discussion with other screen industry bodies a Code of Ethics, which would address sexual harassment with a simple statement in line with this code’s purpose to be big picture rather than detailed. Should a cross sector Code of Conduct be instituted, the board agrees that the Policy for Sexual Harassment could be included here.
DEGNZ questions the need for certification in regard to sexual harassment. We aren’t required to be certified for other aspects of occupational health and safety even though, for example, directors on shoots without a dedicated safety officer are required to give health and safety briefings to the crew. And in fact, we question whether or not sexual harassment should be part of occupational Health & Safety, or should be separate. We believe this is an issue for ongoing discussion.
We support the idea of an online course for all screen industry workers but do not support the requirement that it be annual and certificated. We believe that individual contracts stipulating that the contractor must sit the online course and will adhere to the Universal Screen Industry Harassment Policy is sufficient—the contracted requirement and daily Health & Safety Briefing on Sexual Harassment we feel will be effective in significantly raising awareness regularly.
A further reason we do not support an annual and certificated course is because we feel that both the sending and receiving of certificates to the Certified PCBU (further on this follows), which we also do not support, is overly administrative.
DEGNZ does not support the requirement for a PCBU Training Certificate that requires all PCBUs to do a course on what to do if a screen worker lays a sexual harassment complaint. And consequently we do not support the requirement for PCBU Sexual Harassment training at film schools.
Rather we feel that the online course for all screen workers has this content included in it and that the Sexual Harassment Crew Representative, the Producer/Production Company and the independent specialist are the multiple points of contact for complaints.
Further, we feel that the producer/production company and the Crew Sexual Harassment Representative should receive any specialist training. It will be important to identify crew who are willing to take on the role of Crew Sexual Harassment Representative and provide them with the training required.
DEGNZ does not support the Safety Officer being responsible for drawing up a plan on how to deal with content of a sexual nature or nudity. A Safety Officer’s role we believe is limited to physical safety on set.
We feel that the Producer/Production Company, Director, Actor’s Agent and Actor should handle the plan because this is where the first and ongoing contact occurs. The plan can evolve and at a later date it can be talked through with the Independent Specialist and Crew Sexual Harassment Representative prior to filming.
Strict precautions in regard to sensitive footage is likely already dealt with in the confidentiality clauses of all contracts, but particular stipulations could be made in the contracts of those who deal directly with the material: directors, editors, data wrangler, etc.
The requirement for an Intimacy Coordinator is the most contentious for DEGNZ because of the potential for usurping of the director’s creative control. At the same time we understand the significant imbalance that can occur because of the actor’s training, the actor/director and actor/producer relationships and the pressures on set that can put undue demands on all involved.
While we are open to a continuing dialogue around the idea of intimacy coordinators, DEGNZ much prefers a requirement for specialist training for directors around nudity and sex scenes that could be provided by the Independent Specialist when such content is a part of a particular production. This could include Equity NZ’s current code of conduct for intimate scenes and auditions.
Our view with third party involvement in a scene whether a proposed intimacy coordinator or any other individual is that the person should work through the director and no one else.
DEGNZ feels that the Rehabilitation of people with Harmful Sexual Behaviours is best handled by independent specialists and should not be put onto production companies.
DEGNZ does not agree with the requirement for all workers to complete a Sexual Harassment Survey post every production. This is overly onerous, bureaucratic and unlikely to be successful.
The SWAG recommendations are sweeping and significant. DEGNZ feels that the costs associated with the implementation of any recommendations/requirements should be funded independent of the guilds, associations and productions companies, many of whom are already financially strained.