Production During COVID-19
As everyone knows, production took a huge dip during the shutdown, but it's slowly getting up and running again. FilmLA- Los Angeles' film permit office- expects more productions to start picking up in early September, once scripted television and feature productions resume. Those of us who work in film and television are now considered essential workers. Our industry supports 700,000 jobs that account for $16 billion in wages in the state. As Los Angeles County allows productions to get back to work, all productions must follow LA County health protocols for film production, available at the County's website.
The new rules require on-set COVID-19 safety officers to enforce safety protocols; frequent cleaning of areas and equipment; limited filming hours; and the creation of zones separating crew who cannot socially distance or wear masks as part of their jobs. These protocols must be agreed to as a condition of film permit release, or risk being shut down. IATSE, DGA, SAG-AFTRA and Teamsters have released their more vigorous “Safe Way Forward” guidelines as well.
Every member of cast and crew must be tested for COVID-19 before their first day on set, followed by a minimum of testing three times per week. Those who work in production offices away from set and can wear protective equipment would only need to be tested once a week. Under these more stringent rules, some shoots have decided to test every single day or even twice a day. However, it's important to note that film sets are only required to comply with the safety protocols set out by the Los Angeles County Health Department.
Here's broadly what to expect on a well-run, COVID-compliant set!
DAILY WELLNESS QUESTIONNAIRE: Before the shoot and each day BEFORE you go to set, you will be given a digital questionnaire to screen you for symptoms. Some productions are using a downloadable app for the screening questionnaire.
TEMPERATURE CHECK at call: You will have your temperature taken in your car by either the set medic or Covid compliance assistant using a touchless infrared thermometer.
CHECK-IN / SCREENING STATION: After parking, crew will be asked to line up on markers placed 6 feet apart when entering the check-in tent. You will be required to complete a verbal screening and will be asked if you are experiencing any symptoms since filling out your daily digital screening questionnaire.
COVID TEST: For productions following more stringent guidelines, you may be tested prior to starting production, and then be tested every day. The time for test results can vary. Many productions are paying for rapid testing, with results available within 90 minutes, typically with 90% accuracy. Most productions allow you to work while waiting for your test results (if you had previously had a negative test) which are usually texted to both you and the production office.
PRODUCTION-PROVIDED PPE: You will be handed company-provided PPE. Please wear the PPE provided and make sure your mask is on correctly –covering both your nose and mouth.
COLOR-CODED WRISTBANDS: You will receive a color-coded wristband which states your access level to set. You will remain with your department and stay in your designated base/area. Departments will be allowed to do their work on set as per the AD’s schedule (this will be sent out daily with the call sheet) and will be asked to return to their base/area when the work is complete.
SAFETY MEETING: The 1st AD and Compliance Assistant cover COVID safety protocols. In addition to the safety meeting, the 1st AD will make announcements every 3 hours to remind people of safety protocols, e.g., where hand washing and sanitizing stations are, to use PPE at all times and to socially distance.
CRAFT SERVICES / MEALS: Craft services may be handled by an attendant who will hand you pre-packaged items. There will be a table placed between the crafty table, acting as a barrier, where crew will stand to receive their requested items. Cones will be spaced for social distancing when lining up to place breakfast and lunch orders from the catering truck. All hot items will be served by catering from the truck in individual boxes. Beverages and sides are prepackaged and may be handed out by the caterer from a tent, away from the truck under a pop up. All beverages, water, coffee and tea will be served by craft service. All snack bags and beverages will be individually packaged ahead of time and handed out by craft service. Any food will be properly washed and any packaging properly disinfected before distribution.
EATING: Tables will be spaced for social distancing outside under pop-up tents. Your mask should remain on at all times, covering your mouth and nose when in the presence of others. When you remove your mask to eat, maintain a physical distance of 6 ft between yourself and others.
STAY HYDRATED AND TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS OUTSIDE: Walk off-set and outdoors if possible to take off your mask and drink water. Keep 10 feet of distance when taking off your mask to drink water. Wearing a mask and PPE can be very tiring and makes it difficult to speak, breathe and move while doing your job.
SLOW DOWN: Take your time! Moving slowly may go against your training, but keeping distance, using proper hygiene and wearing proper PPE will keep everyone safe.
To obtain a permit and find out more about COVID-19 guidelines, FilmLA website:
This only can work if everyone takes their own health and the health of others seriously, so remember the following tips as your life and the lives of others may depend on it.
BE SAFE! Protect yourself: put together your own PPE kit with multiple N95 or KN95 masks, a face shield and/or goggles, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes and gloves, just in case production fails to provide it.
DO NOT work on productions without permits, don't have a COVID safety officer, or do not have any safety protocols in place.
DO NOT sign a COVID-19 Liability Waiver- a document waiving your rights if you contract COVID while on set. If you feel pressured to do so, contact your union or OSHA. This is your workplace, and it is the production's responsibility to make the set safe FOR YOU.
DO NOT go to work if you are sick or exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 (such as a fever of 100.4 ̊ or greater, chills, cough, difficulty breathing, muscle aches, sore throat, diarrhea, recent loss of taste or smell), or if someone you live with has been lab-confirmed diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 14 days.
Remember, if you have ANY concerns about safety protocols not being followed, you may report concerns to your on-set COVID-19 safety officer, IATSE, SAG-AFTRA, the Los Angeles Health Department, or OSHA.