Norf Casting Announcement : 22/06/2020
Dear Norf Casting Members,
Big news follows so please make sure you read in full.
Firstly, we would just like to say that we miss you all and absoloutely cannot wait to get back to a position in which we are able to call you up and tell you we've got you a few days on a show. Since the world stopped we have been focusing on getting all the monies owed to you into your accounts as fast as possible. We hope you have managed well during the lockdown and have been looking after yourselves and eachother. We're still able to chat if you ever fancy a catch up so don't hesitate to call or drop us a message.
Since the proverbial rug was so swiftly swept from under our beloved film and television industry in March we have been keeping a keen eye on the developments within the community regarding a response to the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic.
Whilst it is still not entirely clear when productions will resume it is becoming increasingly clear that the culture you are all used to on set is a thing of the past for the foreseeable future.
Participating in the film and television industry as an extra, supporting artist or walkon will require you to learn new skills and the development of a new culture that is focused on keeping yourself and others safe from the risk of illness whilst getting the job done. Anyone with considerable experience within the industry will understand what a challenge the new guidelines pose to an industry that achieves the unthinkable day in day out. The time and budget constraints that are going to be added to what already resembles a monetary game of Tetris will, I’m afraid, be evident in the amount of places available on productions when they do start up.
What we expect to change:
There will be less bookings of SAs in the near term unless there is a considerable drop in the cases of COVID-19 in the UK. However in the long term we are optimistic we will get back to the industry we all remember.
There will be social distancing measures in place on all productions and it will be incumbent on you to adhere to these in a military fashion in order to reduce the threat of spreading the virus.
There will be a lean towards groups of SAs that can be hired from the same household in order to minimize the amount of different bubbles coming onto a production.
There will be a lean toward block bookings in order to minimize the amount of different people attending set.
There will be a preference for people who drive in order to avoid as many people using public transport as possible.
There will be less crowd scenes, less location work and more studio based work.
There will be temperature checking on set and there will be tracing procedures in place to make sure you haven’t come into contact with the virus.
It will be imperative that any sign of a symptom of covid that you notice either in yourself or people around you is reported to us and production as soon as possible. This goes for informing us/them when you are due to appear on a production as well as being on a production.
You may be required to fill in health and tracing checks with each application to a position.
There will be a desire to reduce paper based systems where possible.
These are the main focal points that can be taken from the different variations of industry guidelines being put out by the various unions and production groups across the UK.
They all are basing their assumptions and practices on the official UK guidelines so it is very important that you keep up to date with these: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
We 100% believe we will see a return to the numbers in the long term. We think with the relaxing of the 2m rule and having the right people on set, following the rules, keeping people safe in the near future will lay the groundwork for this.
How we are adapting:
The times are changing and in order that we may stay valid in a post Covid film and tv production industry we have taken steps to ready the agency for those times. Whilst there are still no jobs running in order for Norf to engage in business with yet, we feel it would be irresponsible and a great dis-service to our members just wait around for the industry to resume as it was before. So we are going to be making some changes.
It is with pleasure that I announce that as of around the end of July Norf Casting Ltd will be powered by the POP platform.
Many of you are undoubtedly part of the POP community and already work with some agents on POP so you know the benefits that come with it. There are important things for you to note wether you are or aren’t registered with and agent on POP at this moment in time:
For those new to POP:
You will now have access to your very own Norf Casting online portal where you can upload new photos, selfies, sizes updates and skill updates.
You will be part of their revolutionary chitless system as well as still being able to work on jobs using paper chits.
You will see more defined job opportunities from us and you will be personally notified when being released.
You will have access to an online calendar which can keep us up to date on your availability.
You will be able to communicate with us via the portal chat service as wells as emailing.
We can now send opportunities to you via email and over SMS, so you need not fear missing anything on whatsapp.
Your remittances will be available via the platform as well as a review system for the chitless payments for faster and more transparent payments.
POP software is used widely across the major studios in the UK. Norf will be seeking new opportunities nationally for our artists as well as maintaining our strong relationships in the north.
For those new and familiar with POP:
Since the lockdown began POP have been working closely with the different unions to facilitate solutions in their software that may help productions ease into a post covid production culture more easily. The important features that relate to supporting artists on set are as follows:
The ability for artists that live in the same household to tag each-other for those clients that wish to book as many people from the same bubble as possible.
Temperature recording via the chitless system so that ADs can keep track of their SAs temperature status.
Easily assigning staggered start times for everyone to avoid crowding during sign in and costume/makeup calls where possible.
Simplified communication of safety protocol videos and documents to artists.
Questionnaire functions to assist in covid symptom tracking/clearing.
The ability for me to contact all artists on a production with important announcements or emergency notices.
E consent functionality for health declarations and ‘fit to work’ checks.
There are many more things happening behind the scenes including the fact that POP supports the new PACT/EQUITY rates on the chitless system. The chitless itself will go a long way to reducing the amount of payment discrepancies caused by miscalculation on paper chits.
What will change?
With the new platform will come a new set of Terms and Conditions that will be sent out with a link to your new profile, please give them a good read through. Here are some of the main things that will change as a result of the move.
We have taken the decision to scrap all fees outside of commission including any payment admin fees and the annual administration fee of £35.
This decision was taken in light of the fact that we feel the opportunities in the near future may be reduced and the industry may be on a stop and start pattern for a while. We don’t feel it is appropriate to charge an annual fee in light of such a big thinning of opportunities we are likely to face. Though our reputation for payments is pretty good already we feel it will become even smoother with our new systems in place.
Our commission will change to a flat 20% commission rate plus any applicable VAT.
We will still be communication for mass announcements on whatsapp but we will no longer post all jobs for everyone to see on the broadcasts. We will be working with the POP communications software to deliver opportunities via email and SMS and also via the App/Platform. This will result in the ability to contact only the people we need to contact for certain roles, for example the ladies will no longer see all the roles that are just for men and vice versa.
You will have the ability to upload your own selfies to your profile this will result in a much smoother application process.
One of the major things this platform does is free us from trivial tasks that take up lots of our time. We plan to use this extra time to find more opportunities for our members and to find ways to improve the service we provide to you.
We may finally be able to get round to holding photo shoot days as we have promised so many times in the past. We just have to figure out the safety protocols first.
A post covid production is likely to be drastically reducing the amount of paper used on a production. The fact that we can offer ADs the ability so sign artists in and out via the platform at the click of a button drastically reduces the need for chits and ques on wrap, which goes a long way to ensuring the safety of you, other artists and the AD. You will receive an electronic breakdown of your earnings for the day within 24 hours of signing out and you will still have the opportunity to question any irregularities you notice.
Whilst maintaining our strong relationships in the North we will also be focusing a lot of effort on securing opportunities across the UK for all of our artists.
What will not change?
We are going to work harder than ever - Our dedication and the quality of service we provide to you will only increase in the future. The POP platform will elevate the different services we can offer ADs making us more desirable to work with, especially in a post covid production industry.
You are still our people - You will still be on our book, you will not be a shared community member, our book is going to be our own and any people you recommend to us in the future will still be a Norf artist once they sign up. Even if you have a profile with another agent on POP you will have your own with us. We still have a desire to provide the best people we can to productions so the good work you do in spreading our name to those you meet on set will still be extremely valuable to us. We are still Norf Casting we are just using a new software and have access to a pool of extra people outside our books if we need it for bigger crowd days.
DBS – Many applications that come our way are from people who have worked via agents without a DBS. Our policy on DBS copies will be the same, you cannot work for us without one. 99% of opportunities we come across require one so it would be silly of us to send jobs to people who have let theirs run out of date. You will find that if you do not keep them up to date then you might see less opportunities from us. Remember you just need the 18 month basic DBS. Advanced DBS copies are still only accepted with an 18 month validity by most production companies. Here is a link to apply for a DBS: https://www.gov.uk/request-copy-criminal-record I’m not saying now is the time to apply, maybe wait for some news to come back but if you can afford it, having it in the bank would mean you are ready any time.
One agent per production – We would still prefer you to keep to just one agent per production. This is at the request of may ADs. In order to protect their continuity.
You have a decision to make!
Are you coming with us on this new adventure?
We hope this move is as welcome to you as it is to us and we hope to take every last one of you with us. If you for any reason have any reservations please message me the word POP on whatsapp and I will personally call to discuss with you.
For those happy to stick with us all you have to do is wait for an email with a link to your new profile and terms and we will take it from there. We will be asking everyone to upload their best and latest headshots themselves. They will need to be approved by us so please make sure that it is recent and professional if possible. Professional shots will be a preference over recent shots as we often need selfies for productions anyway.
Again we miss talking to you all, we cannot wait to get back to it and we look forward to hearing from you soon!
All the best
Wayne and Carla