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Make your production safe during COVID-19 with these go-to guidelines

Filmmaking techniques • Written by Ellie Cameron-Krepp, Creative Community Manager

As regions around the world begin to bounce back from COVID-19, creators are faced with the new challenge of ensuring all sets and productions are safe during the pandemic. We’ve put together a go-to list of guidelines to help you navigate the new ways of working.

With the world in lockdown, we saw a huge jump in animation, motion design and post production work as clients and creatives adapted to creating content in the middle of a global health crisis. Now, with restrictions starting to ease (see our production map for the latest updates) we’re seeing countries opening back up for live production – with some rules and regulations, of course!

We’ve gathered information from our network from creators, plus official guidelines from government and film bodies to put together a collection of go-to guidelines to help you transition back to business and make your productions as safe as possible.

Disclaimer: Please note, any information or links published in this article are a guide only, and should not be relied upon as an official source. It is crucial that you regularly check the government or authority advice in the country or region you plan to undertake your work in.

Working Remotely COVID-19

Working Remotely

It’s pretty straightforward – but productions should be kept as remote as possible, and face to face meetings should be avoided if they can. Whether you’re in pre-production, on set or in the edit suite, try to stick to video calls. Here are a few other tips:

  • Keep building your relationship with clients via virtual meetings.
  • Utilise the Genero platform along with video calls & live streaming technology to keep all stakeholders involved in your production. 
  • For suitable projects, embrace animation, motion design and remote shoots. 
  • All post-production should be done remotely. 
  • Avoid travel wherever possible to make sure you can stay safe and be back on set ASAP.

Whether it’s your crew, your schedule or your concept – being agile is going to help ensure your work doesn’t go down the drain if there are impacts to your production

Pre-Production

From the get-go, make sure you’re building flexibility into your production. Whether it’s your crew, schedule or concept – being agile is going to help ensure your production  doesn’t fall apart if there are impacts due to the pandemic. Try to factor these tips into your pre-production:  

  • Whether you’re pitching a new concept or working with an existing idea, keep the current climate in mind. Is the content going to resonate well with audiences right now and is it safe to air? 
  • Build flexibility into your production schedule and budget. 
  • Casting can easily be conducted online, and casting directors can ask talent to self record performances, or direct via video calls.
  • Use online options for location scouting, and limit the crew for any on-site location or tech scouting.
  • Do your research on obtaining film permits as local authorities may have new restrictions in place. Make sure your concept doesn’t rely on one specific location. 
  • Your production (and even pitches via Genero!) should have COVID-19 guidelines in place, highlighting the protocols that will be adopted. You can find suggestions for local guidelines at the bottom of this article. 
  • Considering the implications of COVID-19 on insurance policies, all steps should be taken throughout all production stages to mitigate any possible risks.
On Set Production COVID-19

People On Set

Limiting the number of people on set and putting strict protocols in place is crucial to make sure you’re protecting the safety of your cast and crew. To protect the health of your team, we recommend:

  • No one on set who has travelled overseas in the last 14 days.
  • No one on set who is experiencing any cold/flu or other Coronavirus symptoms.
  • No one on set who has been in contact with someone that has COVID-19 or is currently being tested.
  • Anyone who has pre-existing health conditions or is over the age of 70 may have an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and additional precautions should be taken. 
  • At all times, keep the number of people on set to a minimum and ensure numbers are within your local limitations on gatherings for work. 
  • Agency/brand/client teams should avoid attending shoots and join virtually instead.
  • Where possible, all shoot attendees should be local, or with minimal travel required.    
  • Public transport should be discouraged when travelling to sets.
  • Clear records of everyone involved in the production should be kept for contact tracing purposes.

Temperature Checks & Testing

Especially in regions with high numbers of cases, everyone arriving on set should have their temperature checked with a contactless thermometer, up to twice a day if necessary. You can even use stickers or similar identifiers to show who has passed this check.

In countries with tests available and short processing periods, testing could be considered for all shoot attendees, or for those (such as talent) that need to come into close contact with others.

PPE COVID-19 Production

Personal Protective Equipment

Using personal protective equipment including face masks and gloves can be crucial in preventing the spread of germs, and is mandatory in many countries! Keep everyone protected with the following measures: 

  • Face masks should be worn by everyone except talent when they are on-camera.
  • For long shoots, consider allowing for multiple masks per person, so they are not worn for a prolonged period of time.  
  • Gloves should be worn by everyone except talent when they are on-camera
  • Take extra precaution with issuing new gloves/masks for drivers, runners, production assistants or anyone who may be regularly travelling on and off set.

Implement a distance rule for everyone on set based on local guidelines

Physical Distancing

When it comes to physical/social distancing and the number of people allowed on set, ensure you understand any government guidelines first and foremost. Once you know your local rules, you can implement a number of methods for distancing, such as: 

  • Implement a distance rule for everyone on set based on local guidelines. 
  • Use floor markings to mark out spaces. 
  • Set a maximum capacity on the number of people in a room, ie. 4m² per person rule. 
  • Set good standards and respect people’s personal space by avoiding hugging, touching or handshakes. 
  • Split your set into different zones to keep departments separated as much as possible. 
  • Apply one-way systems for foot traffic to avoid people congregating or passing each other in close proximity. 
  • For larger productions, consider staggering arrival and departure times or alternating shifts. 
  • Scenes where two or more people come in close contact should be limited, or ideally feature people from the same household.
  • Consider the use of camera angles, CGI/VFX or stock footage to depict intimacy, close contact or crowd scenes.
Hygiene & Cleaning COVID-19

Hygiene & Cleaning

One of the most important things you can do on set and any production location (including offices etc) is maintain a high standard of hygiene & sanitization. At the bare minimum, ensure that everyone on set is frequently washing their hands and that all surfaces, gear etc is disinfected. Further steps that should be taken include: 

  • Provide easy access to hand washing stations and hand sanitizer/disinfectant (minimum 60% alcohol recommended).
  • Ideally provide all crew with pocket hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to allow use without leaving their station.
  • All sets/studios/locations should have a deep clean undertaken before and after the shoot and each day if it runs for multiple days, including disinfecting all surfaces.
  • Ensure all sets are well ventilated. 
  • Try to minimise communal touch points like door handles (ie. prop open doors so they don’t need to be touched).
  • Make the rules clear! Display signage on locations to highlight the safety & hygiene practices.
  • Where possible, utilise boom microphones only. For other types of microphones (plus walkie talkies, radio comms etc) use individual mics, disposable covers or other steps to prevent the use of shared equipment.   
  • Waste management must be considered, with removal of disposed gloves/masks/rubbish etc carried out frequently. 
  • All gear should be disinfected regularly.
  • Cameras should be kept two metres away from talent where possible.
  • Consider using barriers to separate crew from the talent.
  • Ensure the same standards of hygiene are followed during pre and post production, ie. at production offices, post-production houses, recording suites etc.

Catering

Food safety is always important, but especially at the moment, and careful consideration is needed for catering protocols. The following is suggested: 

  • No communal catering or self service should be allowed.
  • Stagger meal times where possible.  
  • Food should not sit out, but be distributed take-away style, with each individual moving away from catering to adhere to physical distancing requirements.
  • Food should not be eaten on set or offered around on trays.
  • Avoid any communal snacks or food. Individual portions should be provided only. 
  • Label individual water bottles for each crew member to prevent cross contamination.

Hair, Makeup & Wardrobe

Where possible, talent should undertake their own hair, wardrobe and makeup requirements. If hair, makeup or wardrobe teams are required, consider: 

  • Personal protective equipment must be worn by all stylists & assistants.
  • Ensure wardrobe, hair & makeup areas are well ventilated with enough space, and disinfected regularly including chairs etc.  
  • Costumes should undergo regular disinfection.
  • Single use tools should be used (ie. makeup brushes, hair brushes etc). 
  • Talent should handle their own makeup touch ups if possible, to avoid ongoing contact with the makeup artist.
Health & Wellbeing COVID-19

Health & Safety Officers

Depending on the scale of your production and local government guidelines, you will need to appoint someone to a health & safety role. This might be a health officer, an on-set nurse or an infection control office. For smaller productions, you might assign a producer or production assistant to be responsible for ensuring infection control. Work carefully to establish their roles and responsibilities and ensure they have any training required. Some tasks for this role might include:

  • Assist with developing infection control/COVID-19 guidelines for the production.
  • Ensure the production is complying with local health authority guidelines. 
  • Running daily safety briefings for all cast & crew.
  • Collecting contact information for contact tracing.
  • Reinforce safety requirements to the team, such as regular reminders about physical distancing and hygiene.
  • Carrying out temperature checks.

Be transparent and ensure you communicate the COVID-19 risks of attending set, and the steps you’re taking to prevent them

Health & Wellbeing

COVID-19 has impacted everyone in different ways, so it’s important to make sure your team feels safe and comfortable throughout the production.

  • Be transparent by communicating the risks of attending set, and the steps you’re taking to prevent them. 
  • Ensure that all parties are comfortable at the shoot. Check in with your team regularly.
  • Allow spaces for physical rest during the day, for your team to have downtime if or when they need it.
  • Be aware of and flexible with the personal challenges of working remotely.
  • Consider the impact of fatigue on your team if they’re adapting to new schedules and procedures. 
  • Consider what mental health support is available for your team, and share the information with them.

Ready to hit the set? Before undertaking any productions via Genero, please ensure your production meets all local government requirements and restrictions. If you have any questions or comments, drops us an email at covid@genero.com. 


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