For most crew members, driving is an essential part of working in film and TV. When the hours are unsociable and the locations remote, you can’t rely on public transport. So it’s important to have a valid driving licence and vehicle to get you to and from work.
Even departments that are primarily office based, such as accounts or post-production, require driving from time to time. How else would crew get their per diems or rushes make it to the post-house?
With driving being such an integral part of working in the industry, there are some things that are often not considered at the time but are important to bear in mind.
Some job roles will require a lot of driving on a daily basis, such as Rushes Runner or Unit Driver. However, others may require one long journey in a short space of time. If you are required to drive as part of your job role, you should be careful to keep an eye on your hours and make sure you don’t exceed the recommended daily driving limit.
Exceeding these hours could put you, any passengers and other road users at risk. According to Gov.uk, “the EU rules on driving hours are that you must not drive for more than 9 hours in a day.” So for example; it would be unadvisable and potentially dangerous for a Costume Trainee to drive from Cornwall to London and back again to collect a costume, a journey which could take 5.5 hours each way.
For more information on driving, hours check out the government website.
Driving Film TV Crew to/from Set
Wherever the production is based, you’re expected to get yourself to work as part of the job. If you accept a job in Bristol, you are therefore agreeing to get yourself to and from Bristol and the surrounding area as per the shoot requirements. However, there may be times when the crew will be required to travel further in order to shoot at a particular location.
In this instance, driving time should be accounted into the schedule. For example, if you are working on a Bristol based production and there’s one day shooting on location in Cardiff, the crew should be given one hour travel time (the approx. amount of time it takes to drive from Bristol to Cardiff) at either end of the day. This ensures the time needed to travel doesn’t unfairly impact on the crew, who are already working long hours.
An exception to this is if the location is particularly far from the base, to an extent where it would be unfair or unsafe for the crew to travel that distance on a working day. In this case, production should provide accommodation near the location.
Insurance – Personal car
If you’re asked to use your personal car for work, whether that’s to pick up talent or drive to a recce, make sure you have business cover on your insurance. It doesn’t cost much more but is vital in the case of an accident and could save you money in the long run. Business insurance covers you, your vehicle and other road users when you’re driving for work.
It does not cover the kit or talent, which is not your responsibility and is covered by the production insurance. However if you’re in an accident that causes damage to the kit or prevents the talent from working, and you’re found to have invalid or incorrect insurance, the production company could claim against you for negligence.
Protect yourself by adding business cover to your film production insurance.
Insurance – Hire Car
Most hire companies will not hire vehicles to people under 23, or even 25, depending on the type of booking (large vehicles, driving abroad, etc). If you’re asked to drive a hire vehicle, take a moment to check with production that you meet the driver requirements. Do this as soon as possible, as if it turns out you’re not suitable (due to age, points of your licence or any other reason) it will give production time to find an alternative.
Never say yes and hope for the best; it’s in your and the production’s interest to make sure all vehicles and drivers have valid insurance cover. Driver requirements vary between hire companies and types of vehicles, so be sure to check the specific requirements of your booking.
Paying for fuel
If you’re driving for work (for example picking up actors and driving them to set, collecting kit from a rental house or driving crew to the location), production should cover the cost of your fuel. This is something you should discuss with production ahead of time, as there are a few different ways in which they might cover the cost.
They may provide you with petty cash which you can use to pay for the fuel before returning the receipts and change to production. If it’s a large production and you’re driving a lot as part of your job role, they may provide a company fuel card that you can use like a credit card.
Alternatively, they might ask you to cover the cost initially and then reimburse you in cash or by bank transfer upon receiving a receipt or invoice for mileage.
In short, with driving being such an integral part of working in the film and TV industry, it’s important to keep yourself, your passengers, other road users and your finances in check.
If you have any queries regarding driving for work or the requirements of driving as part of your job role, feel free to raise this with the production. It’s your responsibility and theirs to ensure crew who are driving for work do so in fair and safe conditions.