WHAT'S NEW - Psychological Safety In Productions Involving Challenging Material or Vulnerable Contributors

Psychological Safety in Productions Involving Challenging Material or Vulnerable Contributors

If your production involves stories around vulnerable contributors, or the content is likely to be distressing/challenging then you should consider your duty of care to your contributors and the production staff involved in capturing and dealing with those stories. The psychological risks and impact of this type of work can, and should be managed carefully.

First Option have recently supported productions who are re-investigating previous alleged murders, examining footage from conflict zones, and others involving challenging content and difficult material.

First Option’s Medical Officer, Dr Colin Thomas and experienced associate psychologist, Susannah Robertson-Hart, are able to offer a tailored package of support, including help with your risk assessments, developing protocols for duty of care and supporting you as you plan how you will undertake your programme with the least possible risks to contributors and your staff. In addition, we can deliver training courses tailored to your needs in for example Interviewing and dealing with vulnerable contributors, dealing with traumatic imagery and maintaining your mental wellbeing. 

Dr Colin Thomas was the Chief Medical Officer for the BBC for 25 years and has given advice to numerous productions on health risks during that time. In the latter part of his time with the BBC, with the changing nature of programmes, it became clear that psychological issues were becoming a bigger factor and he worked with Dr Susannah Robertson-Hart on processes, procedures and training to minimise and support the psychological risks in programme making. This spanned journalists working in high-risk conflict environments, and those receiving and editing user generated content to documentary programmes where the content was particularly sensitive and potentially upsetting for contributors and programme makers.

Here is what one of our recent customers wrote:

On the ‘dealing with traumatic Imagery training course’... 

’This was an exceptional one-hour course that I think should become mandatory within the relevant documentary filmmaking community.  It’s part of an important and seismic shift within our industry as we begin consider the psychological wellbeing of production and post production teams. Dr. Colin Thomas and his colleagues at First Option are at the forefront of this, coming up with practical solutions to realistic everyday scenarios. 10/10’ 

Stephen Bennett, Freelance Documentary Director (Oct 2021) 

First Option also have links with organisations and highly qualified individuals that can psychologically assess your contributors to establish fitness to participate and identify risks and support them during, and for a period after, programme transmission. 

For more information or to make an enquiry, please contact info@firstoption.group