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Creating a freelancer playbook for Covid-19: Practical tips

Updated: Mar 29, 2020

LIVE DISCUSSION: Wednesday 25 March 2020

On Wednesday 25th March, in lieu of a physical meetup - 70 Soho Media Club members tuned in at 16.00 for a live zoom chat.


  • Tony Lennon, Research and Freelance Officer, Bectu

  • Tom Guida, Partner, Clintons

  • Neal Romanek, Editor, FEED

  • Nia Hughes, Organising Official, Bectu

  • Sara Putt, Owner Sara Putt Associates and Trustee of The Film and TV Charity

Hosted by:

  • Muki Kulhan, CEO, Muki International

It goes without saying that the theme of our discussion was the global pandemic which, in one way or another, has had a major impact on all of our lives.

Our super panelists came together to give freelancers guidance through this period of uncertainty, particularly if the production you work on has been postponed or cancelled.

Whilst we all are anxious about the future and have financial concerns, it’s important to keep our spirits up and be positive - mentally, physically and emotionally. The grey skies will move away and we will all get out of this.

So what did our panellists say?

Listen to the podcast at to hear the lively discussion, but in the meantime, here is a summary of practical advice:

Sara Putt, Owner Sara Putt Associates and Trustee of The Film and TV Charity

A COVID-19 Relief Fund has been set up between the BFI and the UK Film and TV Charity.

£1 million has been donated from Netflix, the BFI have put in £500,000 and The Film and TV Charity has used reserves of £440,000. So there is a fund of approx £2,000,000.

It will be a Relief Fund for those working in production, distribution and exhibition. There is already financial support of up to £500 in place for anybody who has two years professional experience in the industry and has a case that needs dealing with urgently, then there will be the much bigger pot that the charity will be working on in early April.

Register here:

Alternatively, pick up the phone if you are feeling stressed or anxious (Support Line 0800 054 0000) or do a live chat (, as the charity can help in various ways from counseling sessions, legal advice, financial and debt advice and through to the more complicated cases where you will be allocated a caseworker.

UPDATE: 28 March 2020

The BBC has donated £700,000 to support The Film and TV Charity. £500,000 will go towards the new Film and TV COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund and £200,000 will go into the charity’s two-year mental health action plan, known as the Whole Picture Programme, to address the widespread issues found in research released by the charity earlier this year.

Tony Lennon, Research and Freelance Officer, Bectu

The good news I35 is on hold

Those who paid their self assessment tax bill in January, at the moment don't look like they're going to get any of it back, but the payments on account that most people are used to doing at the end of July is now going to be deferred until January. HMRC aren't really saying much about it, but they won't be coming after you.


If you have a standing direct debit to HMRC - Cancel your direct debit immediately

Look at Equity website:

Theoretically, lots of freelancers have never applied for benefits before BUT go for it and apply for Universal credit online - do it without shame:

Tom Guida, Partner, Clintons

3 key contract terms demystified:

Force majeure

If something beyond our control prevents us from doing what we are obligated to do, then we don't have to do it. If you are the person saying, ‘I don't owe you anything because of force majeure’, just double check that because if you get it wrong then you’ve breached the contract. Similarly, if you're the person who is obligated to pay for those services and someone has provided services, do you still have to pay them? And the answer is, if you have the money, then the fact that there is a big pandemic doesn't stop you from paying them money. So forced majeure isn't an automatic out.