Getting Your Insurance in Order

Hello all – we’re pleased to be writing our first piece on the IMIS blog.

As Insurance Brokers with over 20 years experience in the Film and Media industry we’ll be providing some insight into some key topics over the coming months.

 

To start with, as we move into Autumn I thought it would be worthwhile to provide some reminders of certain things you should review and keep in mind from an Insurance perspective;

1. Understand your figures

Your insurance policy may contain elements that require an estimate of your wage roll, turnover or hiring fees for the coming year.  Again, these figures should represent your estimate for the COMING YEAR, as last year may have been a different story.  Reviewing these periodically will help you ensure that you have sufficient cover in place at all times.

2. Do an Inventory

Whether you are a Limited Company with a fixed asset register, or a sole trader or partnership, keeping track of what kit and other assets you have, what you have disposed of, and what you are likely to purchase in the coming months is important.  For insurance purposes, you should not allow for depreciation as most policies provide cover on a “New for Old” basis, meaning that the value of your assets that you provide to the insurer should be the value to replace everything you have, as new, at today’s prices.  If you have some items that you do not wish to insure, you should specifically mention these to your insurer, otherwise their value could be counted in the event of a loss, leaving you under-insured.

3. Consider where you are likely to use your equipment

Whilst we at Performance automatically cover your equipment on a Worldwide basis, some policies stipulate that you can only use your equipment in certain territories (usually at your Premises only, UK-wide, in the EU, or Worldwide) and travelling outside of these territories can leave you uninsured.   If you are likely to go abroad, ensure that you have cover for your kit on the right basis – you can split your kit between territories and don’t need to have everything covered at the same location (e.g. you can have £10k at Premises, £50k in UK and £20k in EU).  Just make sure that the sum insured you have in each is sufficient to cover the jobs you have, and that you amend these if an unexpected opportunity comes your way.  Remember to also count any accessories for your kit, as these can add up.

4. Think about any changes to your business

As a Policyholder, you have a duty to disclose any Material Facts to underwriters.  Material Facts are usually defined as “Any fact that may influence a prudent underwriter in the acceptance of or rating of your policy”.  Over the last year, has anything occurred that you may need to tell your insurers about?  Is anything going to happen in the foreseeable future that may?  Examples of Material Facts could be convictions, changes to the security or construction of your premises, insolvency, other policies being cancelled or restricted in some way, changes to your business activities, etc, etc.  The golden rule here is that if you are in any doubt as to whether a fact is Material or not, you should disclose it.   If there is a possibility that something may occur in the future, discuss this with your insurer advisor in advance, so there are no surprises down the line.

5. Review your Contracts and Terms of Business

Always a good idea is to review your own terms of business and those of anyone you do business with, just to make sure that they are still robust enough to offer you the protection they should, and that nothing has changed over time that may invalidate any of the terms.

6. Review your working practices (Risk Assessments, Disaster Recovery Plan, Health and Safety Policy, etc)

If you have recently reviewed your policies and practices, it is a good idea to let your insurer know, as some may give discounts for having these in place.  It is also imperative that if your insurer has previously asked for a copy of, for example, your Health and Safety Policy and this has changed, that you provide them with an up-to-date version.

7. Check your supporting documentation and organise your papers

You may also have certification that requires review or renewal and it is a good idea to get hold of the most recent copies of these and retain them on file.  In addition, if you have any valuations or purchase receipts that need updating, copying or finding, then there’s never a time like the present to get these together, as you may be required to provide these in the event of a claim under your policy.   Most business records need to be kept for a certain period – seven years is usually long enough (most are six, but if the paperwork straddles two accounting years, then seven is safer) but your accountant will advise you on this.  From an insurance-perspective, this same period is fine, although it is good practice to keep hold of your Employers Liability Certificate for as long as possible. The most convenient way to do this is to scan the papers into a PDF, as there is no need to hold on to the original.  Just ensure that the PDF is backed-up somewhere.

However you review your business at the end of the year, organisation and taking time to do this is the key, as well as seeking advice from your insurance advisor, accountant, and any other business support services you may use.

For more information please visit www.astonlark.com/performance call me on 02082564929 or Email me at Gareth.graham@performance-insurance.tv

Also, IMIS members are able to receive an exclusive discount with us on all your media and kit insurance needs. Find out how to take advantage of the discount in the Member’s Section of the website.

Best Wishes

Gareth Graham

The Importance of Filters

The look of a production is a key element of the same that is usually taken for granted. This is however a good sign, as this means that it has been seamlessly integrated with the tone of the story. But to achieve the perfect look for a production, there is a piece of gear that might seem menial but that is actually very important.

What are filters?

Filters are rectangular or circular pieces made of glass that allow for manipulation of the light coming through the lens. Some are also made of optical coatings placed inside said glass. This light manipulation capability helps dealing with unwanted lighting conditions and allows for adding creative effects, modifying colour, depth of field and in general, adjusting the image. Filters are usually placed in front of the lens, but can also be placed after the lens and sometimes inside the lens – certain cameras include built-in filters as well. The most popular brands are Tiffen and Schneider, companies with a proven record of know-how, experience and presence in the industry.

How to use them

In order to place a filter before the lens, the most common practice, a matte box is required. Matte boxes come with filter trays designed to hold these in place right before the lens. Except for screw-on filters, which are naturally circular ones like polarisers that screw onto the front element of the lens, filters are placed in the matte boxes’ filter trays, and should cover the diameter of the lenses’ front element.

This is the reason why they normally come in two sizes: 4”x5.65” (also known as PV or Panavision size), which are rectangular filters that cover the diameter of most prime and zoom lenses, and 6.6”x6.6”, which are square filters normally required when working with big zoom lenses such as the heavyweight Angenieux Optimos or when working with full frame. There are also filters in 4”x4” but this size is not so much in use anymore.

Filter trays are normally horizontally oriented, however there are also vertical trays for portrait settings and rotatable trays, which are most commonly used with graduated filters and polarisers. The former is a type of filter that gets gradually darker from one edge to the other, thus the angle in which it is positioned makes one side darker – this can be used for example, to make the sky look darker.

The latter refract the light evenly in different directions depending on the angle, getting rid of glares and reflections. Rotatable trays make it easier to position the filter in the best way to achieve the desired effect.

Types of filters

Filters can be classified in these main categories:

  • Protection: such as the Optical Flat, a filter with no modifications – just a piece of glass for protecting the lens
  • Polarisers: as described above, these refract the light evenly getting rid of glares and reflections in the sky, glass and water.
  • Neutral Density (ND): these reduce the amount of light passing through the lens without modifying colour and are particularly helpful to avoid overexposure. ND Grads as mentioned above also belong in this category.
  • Infra-Red Neutral Density (IRND): same as the NDs, however these help control the amount of Infra-Red filtration on blacks and dark colours.
  • Diffusion: these help diffuse the light to create softer images or distribute the light across the image while controlling sharpness and can also add glow and enhancing traits to skin tones.
  • Special Effects: these add special effects to the image, such as light streaks, fog or day for night.
  • Colour Effects: these are tinted filters that help enhance certain colours on the image or add a tint to it.
  • Diopters: these filters behave similarly to magnifying glasses and are designed for close-ups and extreme close-ups as they allow for close focusing. Split diopters are diopter filters that only have half the glass, enhancing depth of field and increasing the amount of the image that is in focus even at a very close distance from the subject on the foreground.

Even though the final look of a production is achieved during post-production, the use of filters is key to achieve certain effects or image traits that could not be created digitally. This is especially true with polarising, skin tones, flares and bokeh control, particular lighting setups and colours. For this reason, it is not uncommon for DOP’s and camera assistants to carry out filter tests during prep to see how filters behave under the conditions they are going to work during the shooting. The footage of these is then taken into the editing suite, to check how the final result would look like in post-production. At this stage, producers, executive producers and director will also have their say in the choice of filters that best represent the desired look for the production.

Filters can alter an image so much in terms of lighting, colour and skin tones that even some actors and actresses are known to regularly have taken their own filters to the set. One actress that is said to have done this was Joan Collins, who allegedly handed her own filters to the crew for them to use when shooting her scenes, so her skin tones looked to her taste.