for clients & hirers

Data-rich resources for sustainable production in the screen industry.

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The various toolkits and resources provided by Reel Families for Change (RFC) are intended to assist in the creation of a sustainable production environment. In no way are these documents legally binding. Likewise, our team is not comprised of legal experts and does not provide legal advice. Please consult a lawyer if you have questions about applicable employment/worker law or other legal implications. Last but not least, while we strive for accuracy, we recognize that laws, policies, and even applicable research around best practices may change. We encourage your feedback to help us keep our information updated and relevant.

Crafting a culture of care

At Reel Families for Change (RFC), our mission is to advocate for working families in the screen industries. While our focus includes championing family-centered initiatives like onsite childcare and flexible parental leave, our broader goal is to implement universally beneficial work-life integration solutions, such as shorter workdays, portable benefits, and equitable career advancement.

Each year, thousands of individuals are forced from the industry due to discriminatory, reductive, toxic, and diminutive behavior. Having highly qualified leaders versed in areas of (i) equity, belonging, and justice; (ii) client-vendor compliance; and (iii) care systems is tantamount to attracting and retaining innovative and diverse talent.

At RFC, we fervently advocate for the adoption of sustainable production practices. Our initiatives are intentionally crafted to support the most vulnerable industry populations, ultimately fostering universal benefits for all workers and the industry at large.

While results and outcomes will vary, and success will look different for every person, team, and/or project, the resources provided herein have been meticulously curated and data-proven to help craft more equitable, supportive day-to-day care infrastructure for screen industry professionals.

Tenets of Sustainable Production and Care Infrastructure

Before commencing the work of designing, building, or expanding a comprehensive care ecosystem, there must exist certain fundamental truths upon which all subsequent elements will be built.

The following are non-negotiable tenets held steadfast by Reel Families for Change. 

  1. Legal Mandates as Minimum Standards
    Current state and federal hiring policies often lack protections for contingent workers in the screen industry. Existing regulations touch on issues like harassment, discrimination, whistleblowing, and maternal expectations but fall short in crucial areas like wages, time management, and workload. But that should be a start, not the end. By surpassing these legal minimums, hirers not only comply with the law but invest in a workplace that values each individual and fosters an environment of respect and equity.

  2. Comprehensive Care Ecosystem
    Embracing a comprehensive care ecosystem, intentionally designed to foster worker well-being, not only supports contractors and freelancers but strategically enhances workforce cohesion and motivation. This inclusivity proves beneficial for hirers, driving productivity, reducing turnover, and contributing to the overall well-being of the industry.

  3. Equitable Accessibility and Inclusivity
    Failure to address comprehensive solutions perpetuates equity gaps, hindering diverse group representation. Leaders who consider holistic needs play a pivotal role in talent acquisition and retention, contributing to a vibrant and innovative workforce.

  4. Holistic Support Frameworks
    A holistic care approach is essential for the well-being of all workers in the screen industry, encompassing physical health, mental well-being, financial stability, and work-life balance. Such frameworks contribute to a healthy and sustainable work environment.

  5. Non-performative, Justice-Centered Initiatives
    Prioritizing authentically genuine care practices, especially for individuals with intersecting marginalized identities, establishes a culture of integrity and belonging. This not only benefits the vulnerable but contributes to a positive atmosphere for everyone involved.

  6. Sustained and Evolving Efforts
    Committing to sustained and evolving efforts in care infrastructure is an investment in attracting and retaining top talent. Recognizing the importance of continual adaptation, companies embracing these practices foster workplaces aligned with the values of today’s workforce, ensuring long-term competitiveness.


Given the unique composition, vision, and resources of each production, it is expected that every company, every project, and every team will have different outcomes related to their sustainable production practices, and varying metrics of success. 

Despite this variety, however, certain standards and principles remain constant. Central among them are deterrents against harassment, bullying, discrimination, and retaliation. According to our case studies, the most successful care ecosystems implemented policies, procedures, and protocols to safeguard workers from harm.

  1. Preemptive Planning and Preparation
    Understanding your team’s needs before a project begins is crucial. Whether through a simple Google form or by tapping into our network for Care and Accessibility Coordination support, the goal is to prioritize care from the project’s outset.

  2. Worker-Centered, Family-Supportive Access Solutions
    Beyond legal requirements, productions can proactively support workers with ideal conditions for nursing mothers, eco-friendly materials, and worker-friendly policies like short workdays and flex-time/remote options (when applicable).

  3. Clearly Defined Roles, Responsibilities, and Accountability
    The attention given to mitigating risks around equipment and finances should be applied to people, too. Clarity is crucial, ensuring teams know where to seek help, how to file reports, and what to expect, with corrective measures for procedural breakdowns.

  4. Streamlined Reporting and Anti-Retaliation Protocols
    A streamlined and confidential reporting system with robust anti-retaliation measures ensures swift and effective responses to incidents. Guaranteeing an unbiased investigation and clear outcomes enhances transparency for both reporters and those implicated.

  5. Leadership Development, Peer Education, and Training
    Opportunities for growth, including mental health awareness and conflict resolution, equip teams with essential tools for fostering respect and understanding. Training initiatives are vital for effective conflict resolution and diverse leadership.

  6. Protocols for Restoration, Reconciliation, and/or Reunion
    Establishing post-report protocols emphasizes restoring a safe environment, facilitating reconciliation, and ensuring support for returning individuals (known as “reunion”). Versatile and comprehensive, these protocols consider the complexities of invisible threats and emotional residuals.


These days, most people immediately think of the environment when discussing sustainability but that’s not wholly accurate here.

Our definition of sustainable production practice is inspired by the Gallup 5 Survey on workplace wellness, known as “ESG Reporting with Employee Voice in Mind.” which explores environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards. We believe that at the core of sustainable production practices is a generative leadership approach that aims to ensure the optimal, equitable use of resources, the well-being of the people involved, and the careful consumption, conservation, and/or replacement of natural resources.  

Sustainable productions have been proven to save time and money because of their intent focus on planning and preparation. 

Lack of planning and preparation often leads to impromptu changes, ineffective solutions, and interpersonal conflicts that halt productivity, lead to accidents and injuries, result in considerable overtime fees, and require payout of insurance deductibles, legal fees, and other punitive costs. More often than not the difference between a sustainable set and a volatile one is a matter of reallocating, repurposing, and/or reimagining your use of existing resources.

ESG stands for environmental, social, and governance. These standards were created to help investors consider companies’ non-monetary risks and ethical practices. It was intended to help expand beyond environmentally conscious operations to include people management and the morality of leadership. Over time, ESG has become more widely accepted and internal policies related to ESG reporting have become a norm. Because these standards directly affect their health, wellness, lifestyle, and livelihood, many workers are becoming informed about them and considering potential hirer’s ESG practices in their decision-making.

Although environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards originated beyond the screen industry they are highly applicable to our work. As Reel Families for Change strives to standardize work-life integration as an industry norm, we know this requires exploring successful applications from beyond our sector.

Below is a list of the standards along with examples of how they apply in the screen industry.

    • Environmental: This pertains to emissions, biodiversity, and our carbon footprint. In short, how are we ensuring that we’re not causing harm to the planet throughout the various phases of our production process?  Can we eliminate plastic bottles on set and go paperless (or at least paper less)? Can we patronize vendors that combat deforestation, source equitable materials, and use eco-friendly cleaning materials? Are we using the 4Rs of environmental sustainability: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle?

    • Social: Most people are readily familiar with this element of ESG standards. This pertains to worker safety, diversity and equity, and community-conscious marketing.  Most of us have seen the various initiatives to hire more screenworkers from underrepresented groups, the calls-to-action around equitable access to funding and distribution, or the various corporate rebrands to appeal to viewers from marginalized demographics to showcase cultural stories by diverse artists. While all of these are exceptionally remarkable, they are vastly ineffective on their own. Without a systemic, structural change in operations, planning, and decision-making, these surface-level interventions rarely achieve their goals.

    • Governance: The least talked about but perhaps most critical element of ESG lies in governance. It encompasses how a company is managed, addressing issues like leadership, anti-harassment practices, equity prioritization, and overall effectiveness. Whether ethical governance is implemented within the project reflects the oversight models at the highest levels. For production projects, governance follows the structure established by the initiating companies. When projects are permitted to advance with toxicity, retaliation, disregard of federal whistleblower protections around NDAs, or just benign neglect this is an indication of a faulty governance structure. For those wanting to establish a firm foundation of governance on their next film or television project, start here.

Our goal for using specific language is to minimize confusion.  

Employees and contingent workers have very different legal rights, as well as on-the-job expectations.  By differentiating our language, we hope to be more clear about when we are referring to employees and employees who have specific legal protections and obligations, and when we are referring to contingent workers like contractors, gig workers, and vendors as well as those who hire them.

Client. Assumes total/shared liability for the production. The production project is completed on their behalf. Typically a studio, network, producer, etc.

Hirer. Typically assumes zero risk for the success of overall production. Responsible for recruiting and/or securing a team of skilled professionals, managing the production project’s resources, and/or overseeing the day-to-day operations related to completing production. Usually, managers, department heads, showrunners, etc.

Note: Clients and hirers are not usually the same person/entity but they can be.

This answer varies depending on the size, budget, and timeline of your project. We mandate every client seeking to create on/near set childcare options to seek legal counsel for several reasons:

  • Liability and Insurance
    Having children on-set is a liability, so understanding who is responsible for assuming it will be determined upfront. Whether you choose to use “friends and family support” or opt for licensed providers, you’ll need to know who is responsible in the event of complications, injury, or an emergency response situation. You’ll want to ensure that you’re adequately covered, even if a provider already has insurance, and an attorney can help get you in the right ballpark before speaking with an insurance broker.

  • Waivers and Agreements
    Regardless of how you choose to work with your project’s childcare providers, agreements will need to be made – with them and with the caregivers on your team who will use them. You will need to determine which responsibilities belong to whom. For instance, is your project the actual provider; are you a referring agent and not the direct provider; or will you simply be providing a space for childcare but workers will bring their carers with them? Regardless of the structure, you will want to be sure you have sound, legally binding agreements before moving forward.

  • Policy and Compliance
    Another major reason for seeking legal counsel is that family law and childcare protocols differ from place to place. Childcare provider mandates in New Mexico will differ from New York, New Jersey, California, and so on.  Most states have a childcare maximum of 12 consecutive hours. In some states, it may go as high as 16, and in others as low as 10. To remain compliant, you will not only need someone familiar with local law but you will also have to modify workday standards to operate by those mandates. These operational changes are included in our sustainability development plans when working with clients seeking to support their teams with childcare options.

Generally speaking, it can cost a production anywhere from $5,000 to $500,000 for on-set childcare. There are many pro bono attorneys, referring agencies, and even grantmakers who will help smaller productions to minimize, or even eliminate, the cost of the on-set childcare. In some states, monies spent on childcare are eligible for rebates and deductions, which can be beneficial to larger projects looking to offer childcare solutions to their production teams.

If integrated into your overall production plan, sustainability is quite possible on an independent production with a small budget. Here are some things that may help:

  • Look into what kinds of initiatives exist around equitable hiring, minimum local spending, and childcare kickbacks wherever you plan to film.  Beyond state incentives, you may find support at the city and county levels, too.
  • Sustainable production practices are a commitment to equity, justice, and inclusive economies.  That alone could qualify your project for fiscal sponsorship, which can help you raise funds for sustainable solutions. Consider talking with your local arts council or regional commission to learn more.

It’s important to note, that sustainable productions that ensure equitable hiring, safety, and eco-friendly practices are often eligible for kickbacks and state, city, or county-level incentives, which ultimately save money.

What next? from Principle to practice.

Take our care equity quiz and discover your strengths and pain points, as an individual or a team.
You’ll also receive a customized roadmap with recommended next steps. 

Already have an idea of what’s needed, but aren’t sure how to introduce it to your team? Check out our “care package” guidebook for industry-vetted best practices related to care equity and sustainable production.