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The Future of Production: How Filming Can Start Again Safely

The Future of Production: How Filming Can Start Again Safely

Television, Film and On Demand content has kept us going through our relative lockdowns. With many in our industry eager to get back to work, broadcasters and industry guidance are starting to set out how and when this can happen safely.

Crews working closely will be a distant memory.

How to Get Back to Work on Set Safely?

When can we get back to work and how can we stay safe? Guidance is beginning to emerge from industry bodies that sets out precautions to allow the cogs to start turning once again. However, it appears to be slow and steady. The focus at the moment is on large scale productions, but the guidance is out there for everyone to follow.

That being said, we are all going through individual challenges with getting work off the ground again. The events arena is one that is heavily affected by coronavirus, which further affects conferences, trade shows, performing arts and the like. These are all a staple of many corporate videographers and production companies.

Work Adjusting to the “New Normal” – When Possible

Despite the restrictions content creators have been able to continue to use platforms like Zoom and Skype, and integrate them into live broadcasts and post-produced pieces too. We’ve seen this on the news, panel shows and even for ADR. Actor Mark Ruffalo (The Incredible Hulk) shared his personal dubbing suite which consisted of a computer running a playback screen, audio recording software and script, within a padded cupboard in an AirBnB.

Behind the scenes of ITV Studios’ ‘Lockdown Stories’

Guidance on How to Restart Productions (in UK)

Broadcasters, unions and industry bodies in the UK, for instance, have been working together to issue guidance on how productions can recommence while observing all safety precautions. Producers must consider the following six areas of risk and health and safety:

  • Specifically consider people at higher risk of harm.
  • Heighten precautions for everyone at work.
  • Reduce the number of people involved.
  • Consider editorial ‘on camera’ requirements.
  • Consider mental health and wellbeing.
  • Feedback loop.

Those areas are rather broad and overlapping. One thing is for certain, the production environment will be limited to the essential crew members that observe social distancing. All equipment will be sanitised, and video villages or offloading will likely become isolated operations, cutting out any unnecessary movement of hard drives and media. Applications like Frame.io for collaborative remote working will also be commonplace.

To help assess the risks involved in production, certain areas can be controlled to reduce spread or infection. These are:

  • Work activities: Consider the activities that talent and crew members are going to need to undertake roles on all areas of production, and if these can be adapted or changed.
  • Work Equipment: The sanitation and hygiene of touchpoints on all equipment used should be managed and addressed (cameras, audio, headsets, edit suites for example).
  • Travel: Minimise travel where possible, and follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Work Patterns: Small groups (cohorts/crews) could work remotely as units, rather than one large scale production. Shifts or crew rotations could be used.
  • First Aid and Emergency Services: Emergency services are under great pressure dealing with Covid-19. Reponse to emergencies may be restricted or slowed.
  • Location: Consider the physical capacity of the space given the requirements of social distancing, along with the provision of key hygiene facilities.
  • Rest Areas: Break rooms, canteens and rest areas will need to be adapted to maintain social distancing, sanitation and allocated break times.

The guidelines set out will be useful for any productions looking to start rolling again. There will be many measures that need to be put in place to ensure that everyone is safe to return to work which includes; maintaining sanitized equipment, keeping within social distancing guidelines, using green screens and remote editing.

Everyone is responsible for their own safety. However for independent videographers and small production companies, consideration of the above guidance should take place, be practiced and clearly detailed in risk assessments. For television and film, the overreaching health and safety should be clearly managed and put in place by the employer.

The British Society of Cinematographers (BSC) goes further into details regarding job loss and overall responsibility in this statement:

  • Crew members that fall ill with Covid-19 that have to self isolate should be furloughed by the production with full pay until fully recovered or can return to work.
  • The judegement of the Head of Department should be respected when structural and logistical changes are make to accomodate new working practices.
  • On-set medics need to be independent and testing should follow the latest science.
  • The ultimate responsibility for the health and safety of the crew lies with the employer.

Whilst this guidance comes from UK bodies, it is assumed that each country or territory will set out their own guidelines that are respective of the risk and safety level to crew members and anyone else on set. You can read the full document here.

The events industry is hard hit by coronavirus, and will take a long time to recover.

In regards to large scale events, we have reported on the announcement that IBC Show 2020 (due to take place in September) will not be taking place in physical form. We at cinema5D are committed to continue bringing you all the news as part of our Virtual Show coverage throughout the year, however long it will be necessary, until we can meet again in person.

It is also up to all of us working on set to innovate and come up with new ways to produce content within the confines of our home or office too or to adapt to the new guidance on how productions can take place.

Have you been working over your respective lockdown periods? What projects are you looking forward to starting when we are able to work again? Let us know in the comments.

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