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Supporting Survivors in the Post-Production Phase

The physical, mental, and emotional well- being of survivors and Silence Breakers who work in post-production must be prioritized. Hiring survivors and Silence Breakers is an essential step in remaking Hollywood to be equitable for all — however, it is essential that the work environments you bring survivors into are safe, trauma informed, and equitable.

"The commitment to creating safe, equitable work environments cannot end when production wraps."
Sarah Ann Masse
Founder & President, Hire Survivors Hollywood®

It’s important to ensure survivors have the opportunity to be hired for, or assist with, post-production processes. And if you’ve followed the guidance in the Hire Survivors Hollywood® Toolkit pre-production and production sections, you will have survivors on your post-production team.

Here are some quantifiable steps you can take to ensure you’re creating a safe post-production environment.

Steps For Safe Post-Production

Part 1: Hiring

  • Meet with self-identified survivors, regardless of their past credits or cachet. It is essential to make it known that your project, company, production, etc. is committed to hiring survivors and creating a safe and equitable work environment for all.
  • At no point is it appropriate to require any self identifying survivor to disclose the details or nature of their abuse, including (but not limited to) details about who abused them, when, or how. It is essential that everyone involved is trauma informed, and respectful at every point in the hiring process.
  • Put out a press release indicating your partnership with Hire Survivors Hollywood® with a call to action encouraging survivors and Silence Breakers to actively submit to your company, projects, or programs, etc.; send out a similar notice to all appropriate professionals such as agents, managers, unions to encourage them to submit their clients - and inform their members - of your new efforts.
  • Whether or not you are aware of any self-identified survivors working on your project, it is paramount to alert everyone to the material they will be working on/with. Should a survivor be hired to edit/color/compose for material that may be triggering, activating, or sensitive, they should be alerted to when and where they may experience such material (i.e. which dailies they will be seen in, the code of the footage/sound) and those individuals should be allowed to hand such scenes off to a secondary professional should they require.
“This is life or death, this is incredibly important, and so much money is being spent on lesser issues in this business.”
Andria Wilson Mirza
Director of ReFrame, discussing the importance of the work of Hire Survivors Hollywood®

Part 2: On the Job

  • Have a trauma therapist and/or mental health professional available to help those who may become triggered or activated by sensitive subjects that the stakeholder’s project/production may be dealing with.
  • Employ the assistance of a production intimacy coordinator to ensure the wishes of the performer are upheld throughout the post-production process. It is possible that the camera has captured footage, actions, angles, body parts, etc. that did not feel good or right to the performer in question, and so it remains paramount that the intimacy coordinator is able to report whether that footage is consensual and aligned with what was communicated to them on set by the performers.
  • Have a “safe zone” on set for people to go to for rest, decompression, or taking a few moments to deal with a trigger or activation that may come up. If safe zones are not practicable for any reason, build breaks into the schedule for all post-production crew after working on any hyper-exposed, intimate, or potentially traumatizing material.
  • Creating a collaborative timeline with your team ahead of time can create security and ease with the flow. We also recommend engaging a trauma therapist in this meeting or discussion to support the potential needs of survivors, respecting that the pressures and constraints of too rigorous a schedule can be in conflict with the post-traumatic nervous system. Find a flow that the entire team can agree upon, including regularly scheduled communication check-ins so that all timelines are clear and attainable. Often, the role of editor requires hours of sedentary activity face to face with a computer screen. Assuring timelines are achievable can allow a survivor to take this position while also prioritizing their mental health.

Part 3: Audiences

Two people in COVID masks sitting at an editing bay

In your final edit, include a sensitivity warning (e.g. CW or TW) for your future audiences. These can run as banners or warnings at the beginning of your material informing the audience that they can expect triggering or sensitive material, to inform the consent of the viewer and allow them to approach the material when they and their nervous system are ready. Triggering and activating material can be debilitating to sensitive groups, and having it sprung on them without their expectation can be damaging and even retraumatizing. Giving these warnings allows audiences to decide to continue, or prepare themselves emotionally and mentally for what they may see, lessening the negative impact and potential harm that could be caused.

Hire Survivors Hollywood® believes in discretion and communication around the final cut of a work, especially if it includes sensitive or intimate scenes. If you worked with an intimacy coordinator, bring them back for post-production, along with the director and performer, to ensure intimate and sensitive scenes feel aligned to the image and portrayal consent given by performers. We also encourage this practice with the edits of documentary films to ensure subjects feel properly represented and protected in their identities and work.

"Hire Survivors Hollywood® was instrumental in connecting me to the crew members I was looking to hire. I was consistently impressed by the skill, experience, and generosity of the people who were recommended to me. Hire Survivors Hollywood® made my job as a producer so much easier by saving me a ton of time during the hiring process. I can’t imagine having gone through pre- production without their help. Hire Survivors Hollywood® enabled me to be a part of the solution and help create a film industry that does right by survivors and silence breakers."
Josh Wallace
CEO, Founder at Podium Entertainment LLC

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