Financial Support during COVID-19 for S​.​A. Film, TV and Commercials Industry Freelancers

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25 March 2020

To the President of South Africa, the Honourable Cyril Ramaphosa,, Members of the South African Government and the Honourable Minister of Arts & Culture, Mr Nkosinathi Mthethwa

I am writing to you as a Freelance Crew Member in the Film Industry in South Africa.

I need your support.

Due to the spread of the Coronavirus, the growing fear of infection and travel bans, has led to almost all Feature Films, TV Series and Commercials to cancel, postpone or go on hold indefinitely.

Coronavirus is not only a health crisis, but an economic crisis too, and one that is likely to hit the smallest Businesses, the Self-employed and the Freelancers the hardest. I will not just lose my income while I am ill or self-isolating, but many of us are also losing work and contracts over the coming months.

The majority of Freelance Crew earn a normal wage. We do not make any sort of residuals or profit sharing on any of the Projects worked on. Most of us rely solely on our weekly wage, living from job to job and project to project. No Freelance Crew Member would expect a situation like this, nor be financially equipped to deal with this unfortunate situation.

Film Crew are Freelance workers and are unable to claim unemployment in any way, shape or form. Due to the introduction of the nationwide lock-down, even those with artisan skills are also now unable to apply their trade for an income outside of the film industry.

We Freelance Crew and the Productions we work on, have contributed billions towards South Africa’s GDP, with our tireless work and dedication aiding in making South Africa one of the greatest Filming Destinations in the world. Of the many by-products of this, are job creation, skills and development training programs, as well as creating international attention, increasing tourism, which helps bring even further revenue into the economy.

I personally have signed this petition and am in support of the letter and information below.

As a Freelance Crew member in South Africa, I am appealing to Government and all related institutions to assist us in this time of need. 

I kindly request that you review my points below, and see the petition attached. Your urgent attention will be greatly appreciated.

Please don’t forget us Freelance Industry Staff Mr. President! I plead to you!

Consideration #1:

Relaxation of Bond and Rent Payment for Film, TV & Advertising Freelance Crew for three (3) Months and extended in the event Covid-19 extends beyond three (3) months. If Government could negotiate this with the financial institutions, and also supply us an official Letter or document that we can supply to the Banks or Landlords. Landlords, can use this letter or Document to aid in arranging their Bond repayment Holiday request and stop any unnecessary evictions.

Consideration #2:

Tax Relief in the form of Freelance Crew being able to (if they elect to) submit and claim their annual Tax returns earlier this year. As a Freelance Crew member, we generally receive a return payment on our annual Tax Returns. As a Freelance Crew member receiving my Tax returns early, this would will help me in reducing financial pressure over this period. There are consultations with Tax Advisors and Practitioners taking place at present, and more information on this will follow. 

Consideration #3:

Relaxation of payments for Vehicle Finance, Credit Card repayments, Medical Aid and Insurance Fee’s for Three (3) Months and extended in the event Covid-19 extends beyond three (3) months. If Government could negotiate this with the financial institutions, and supply us with an official Letter or Document to give to our relevant debtors listed above.

I would also like to note, that if the above is granted, the Government will make note to these institutions that this cannot affect our credit ratings, nor make our future payments higher – we understand that the duration of bonds and rentals will be extended for this period of relief, but not for Medical Aids and Insurance.

Consideration #4:

I request financial aid and support. I am unable to claim from UIF, as I am considered an Independent Contractor and not an employee.

Please could the Government create a Temporary Income Fund to support freelancers through the Coronavirus crisis? The idea is for a limited-time, targeted injection of funds to keep Freelancers afloat over the coming months and cover basic income costs like food and utilities.

I, a Freelance Crew Member, have nowhere to turn. These requests above, will help alleviate the devastation that could lay ahead if nothing is done.

Together we can make sure no workers are left behind while we fight the spread of the Coronavirus.

Kind regards,

Freelance Film, TV & Advertising Crew Member