How Film & TV Productions Can Safely Return to Work Post-Pandemic

  • Nikki 

The industry is itching to get back into production, but how do we do so without jeopardizing the cast and crew’s health? Studios, production companies, unions, and guilds have been discussing possible solutions. Strict guidelines must be put in place and enforced to ensure safety on set.

GO DIGITAL AND GREEN

We can expect some areas of production switching to remote work and going green. Table reads, casting, writers rooms, and collaborative editing are strongly encouraged to use video conferencing. In-person meetings should only be done if absolutely necessary. We might also see a lot of production documents (call sheets, scripts, timecards, and NDAs) switching from paper to a digital format. This is to minimize physical contact and reduce exposure.  

PREVENTION

Some discussions around prevention and detection involve testing crew members before returning to work. Prior to entering a studio lot, temperature checks should be conduced with a contactless thermometer. This method may be questionable because of the virus incubation period and possibility that some could be asymptomatic. Productions could also consider isolating the crew as a whole to limit the risk of infection.

DISTANCE

Crew members should still be 6 feet apart at all times unless absolutely necessary. Prior to shooting, it’d be best to coordinate how crew will move in and out of shooting areas to avoid physical contact. Next time you want to show the nearest Grip a set meme, stick to the DMs. Changes to video village is also likely. This area should only be for the director, script supervisor, and DP. Some sets could implement video village streaming to mobile devices to avoid crowding. Not everyone has the luxury of being in open and spacious areas, so we strongly advise keeping the set well ventilated.

Unless the cast is required to wear Personal Protective Equipment as part of their character, they won’t have any while in front of the camera. In this case, Hair, Make Up, Sound, and Wardrobe should be the only ones near them (masked and gloved of course).

 

Who would’ve thought that The Walking Dead Season 10 Teaser was created under social distancing conditions? Turns out the cast was shot separately with a remote camera.

Network: AMC

Agency: Mocean

SANITATION

Looks like cast won’t be the only ones getting into costume! All crew members should receive PPE to wear at all times or bring their own if supplies are limited. In addition, all equipment and communal areas should be cleaned with EPA-registered disinfectants on a regular basis. Think how often props, camera and lighting equipment, and makeup brushes are touched between takes. Yikes. Hair and Make Up should also use disposable sponges and have dedicated brushes for each cast member to avoid cross contamination. Enforce hand washing as frequent as possible and place hand sanitizer bottles throughout set.

CATERING AND CRAFTY

Say goodbye to digging your dirty hands into a bowl of trail mix at crafty. Expect to see pre-packaged catering and snacks along with individually wrapped utensils. Productions should also avoid self-service if possible. If spacing out seating for lunch isn’t possible, splitting up lunch breaks could be another option to prevent congestion.

Some productions outside of the U.S. already returned to work while following similar guidelines. It’s only a matter of time before the U.S. follows suit. These are difficult circumstances to work under, but Film & TV crews are some of the toughest people out there. They are used to working 12+ hours no matter the conditions. They make things happen!

See how Dua Lipa performed “Don’t Start Now” with Friends in this creative video conference style video.

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