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Safe Sets

Dying to work in the film industry

What is our campaign goal? Our goal is to raise $75,000

How our campaign works

Safe Sets Productions is sponsored by the Filmmakers Collaborative, a 501(c)(3) public non-profit organization, which means that your donations are tax-deductible. All excess funds will be donated to the Motion Picture and Television Fund.

Other Ways You Can Help

  1. Equity investment and large donation opportunities for individuals and organizations will include contributor titles in the project. (ex. Funder, Associate Producer, Executive Producer)
  2. We are actively seeking partners and underwriter supported virtual and in-person events, and screenings.
  3. In-Kind donations of time or material donations are always welcome.

What is the project all about?

In an unyielding exploration of the film and television industry, SAFE SETS host, Dr. Paul Heinzelmann, fearlessly delves into hazardous conditions, exposing the toll on cast and crew. From prolonged workdays and sleep deprivation to chemical exposure and abuse of power, Through riveting accounts of accidents, mental illness, and the detrimental effects on longevity and family life, SAFE SETS reveals the dark underbelly of the entertainment industry.

To expose the dangers faced by cast and crew, the film weaves first-hand accounts from leading actors like Jon Hamm and John Malkovich to production professionals, stunt performers, and union leaders. Each reveals insight into the collective dangers involved in creating the films and streaming series we all love to consume. SAFE SETS aims to inspire a new generation of changemakers who will challenge the industry’s unhealthy norms and prioritize safety and well-being alongside the desire to compel audiences with engaging stories.

What will we do with your donations?

The funds we raise will be used for the completion and distribution of:

  1. A feature-length documentary designed to enlighten and educate general audiences while also encouraging change within the film and TV industry.
  2. Live events and educational discussions, screenings, and film festival participation.
  3. Public Television broadcast to reach a nationwide audience.
  4. Educational materials and curriculum designed for film school students and other organizations aiming to create safe and healthy work environments for filmmakers.

What is left for us to do?

  • Complete editing, sound mixing, color correction, etc. for the feature documentary
  • Convert over 30 hours of footage into educational materials to provide a valuable resource for current and future generations of film workers.
  • Enter Safe Sets theatrical feature into major film festivals.
  • Market, sell and distribute this important content to broad audiences.
  • Execute a Marketing, Sales & Distribution plan.

What have we done already?

  • Preproduction research and development of the story arc.
  • Principle photography, including 12 shoots, totaling 45 intimate interviews with film industry experts from multiple locations in North America and working in a multitude of positions in the film industry. In addition, we have interviewed medical experts with a working knowledge of the film industry.
  • Shoot locations: Los Angeles, Oakland, Boston, Vancouver, Canada.
  • Build a professionally designed website
  • Created strategic promotional and pitch materials for partners, distributors, and our own channels.
  • Seven-episode rough cut to build a future course curriculum for film schools.
  • Created a line of industry-themed merchandise.

Risks & Challenges

We are working to get this film out to the public ASAP, while the topic remains especially timely. The project ultimately aims to foster a stronger collaboration between unions, guilds, production companies, studios, and OSHA to create a safer industry for all positions. Broad distribution will be critical if it is to spark positive industry-wide change.

The Impact

What would this mean for the industry?
In today’s ever-evolving film and TV industry, the importance of SAFE SETS cannot be overstated. As the industry adapts to compressed budgets, demanding timelines, and the growing influence of streaming platforms, the well-being of those behind the scenes often takes a backseat. Now, more than ever, it is crucial to shine a light on the hazards and sacrifices faced not only by those in front of the camera, but those behind it. By exposing the dark underbelly of the industry and sparking meaningful dialogue, SAFE SETS addresses critical issues that demand urgent attention. Telling this untold story, can serve as a catalyst to transform the workplace to one where individuals thrive, not just change and fostering a safer, more inclusive environment for all involved in the filmmaking process.


Our Team

Executive Producer, Writer, Director: Paul Heinzelmann is a practicing primary care doctor, additionally trained in public health at the Harvard School of Public Health. Over the years of providing medical support on sets, he gained a deeper understanding of how film and TV production operates. It became clear that systemic factors were creating unique risks to those working in this industry and sharing these observations has become an important call to action in his career.

Director, Subject Interviews, Producer: Jonathan Schwartz is a veteran of film, TV, and new media – with a sharp focus on innovation, human rights and above all successful strategies to protect the global environment and enlist all stakeholders in the realms of conservation and activism.

Producer: Kerri Combs has worked for three decades in creative industries as a musician, producer, arts educator & film technician.She has helped shape the curriculum of film schools in BC to place a greater focus on sustainable cinematography. She launched her production company, FireDance Media, in 2021.

Producer: Azadeh Nikzadeh is a Middle Eastern writer, director, producer, and women’s rights activist. She wrote, directed, and produced award-winning films including feature documentaries Banned and The Credible Fear. She has won multiple fellowships and awards such as the Women Empowerment Fellowship, Asian Film Academy Fellowship from the Busan IFF, Athena Film Festival Writing Lab, and an Honorable Mention at the Charlotte Film Festival.

Editor, Writer, Co-Producer: Richard Levien / New Doc Editing His editing credits include Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight”, short film “Remigration”, and “A Fragile Trust” about the worst plagiarist in the history of the New York Times, which appeared on Independent Lens. He also edited “D Tour”, about a rock drummer struggling with kidney failure, which won Best Bay Area documentary feature at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Levien’s debut feature film as a writer / director,”Collisions” won four SFFILM/KRF Grants.”Collisions” premiered at the Mill Valley Film Festival in October 2018, and won the Audience Award (US Independent Cinema: Gold). It has gone on to win 13 awards from 19 festivals. He has a PhD in theoretical physics from Princeton University.

Director of Photography: Zack Richard graduated from The San Francisco Art Institute in 1999 with a BFA in Film. While there he had the good fortune to study with some of the legends of Underground Cinema including George Kuchar, Lawrence Jordan and Bruce Conner. He is a creative, innovative and resourceful director and cinematographer with extensive experience shooting feature films, commercials, music videos and documentaries. 


Associated Members

Paul Heinzelmann, Independent Filmmaker


We are grateful for the generous support of our sponsors:

Massachusetts Cultural Council
Lowel Cultural Council
Cabot Family Charitable Trust
Liberty Mutual Foundation
City of Boston Arts and Culture