I shouldn’t need to say this but to all Indian film producers – you must pay your UK actors. Not rocket science? A bit obvious? But yes.

Quite often, I have to wait a looong time to be paid for the work I do on Indian movies. 3 months is standard and anything less than that is a bonus. OK, it’s not great, but we cope. Now, I know some people who have been waiting YEARS to be paid: 3 years, 18 months, 2 years. I hate to say it, but those people are NOT going to be paid, in my opinion. The budgets have shut down, the films have been released, all the admin staff have moved on to other projects.

There is a ‘Window of Opportunity’ to chase money: I start at about 2 months. You don’t have to be aggressive or rude, you just have to start making a noise, stay within the bounds of the law, don’t libel anyone, but highlight the fact that SOMEONE hasn’t paid you (if you’re not sure who hasn’t coughed up). Stick to what you know: you turned up, worked x hours, you were promised x amount, by x person. Take photos of yourself on the set on the day, just so you have a record that you were there. This was a tip given to me by an extra on one of the first film sets I worked on.

I am told that from April 2024, all funds for Indian crews filming here will have to be deposited into a UK bank account in full, and 40% of the crew will have to be UK based. We shall see if that helps.

Other proposals for solving this problem have been suggested, eg:
– As per UK law, they should pay invoices within 30 days (or even 45 days if we follow the Indian rule). Or even 90 days, if that’s been agreed!
– UK Visas should not be granted until these steps are taken.
– HMRC need to revoke the 25% tax breaks they’ve given Indian filmmakers if UK workers are not paid.
– Indian producers should deposit the whole budget for their UK shoots in the UK before their visas are granted (looks like this will happen now).

Now, we have a Prime Minister of Punjabi descent, Rishi Sunak, who knows that Indian filmmakers coming here create a lot of employment for British people: so that’s all good. But their services MUST BE PAID FOR. If there’s a dispute over who did what, well, that’s why we need to keep texts, WhatsApps, photos of us working (if we are allowed phones on set, which we usually are with Bollywood productions).

I am no Arthur Scargill, I’m not a union firebrand, but I am trying to highlight this problem and help people who have less of a voice than me. Fingers crossed.

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Sarah Lockett

Sarah Lockett is a former BBC News / Sky News anchor who currently presents a variety of content for corporate clients and delivers media training.
She has presented on BBC News and Sky News, plus reported for Channel Four News, 5 News, Reuters and others.
She now hosts webinars and conferences, chairs corporate/academic panel discussions, hosts award ceremonies and events. She writes, presents and produces training videos, as well as voiceovers (both factual and drama/comedy). She has written two books and is also working as an actor.

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