BY:Matthew C. Lefferts
Along with many other U.S. industries, the film and television production industry has been forced to a grinding halt due to the current Covid-19 pandemic. As states begin to loosen restrictions and allow businesses to resume operations, it is encouraging that key players in the film and TV industry have recently come together to provide preliminary guidelines for the resumption of film, television and streaming productions.
A myriad of unions involved in U.S. audiovisual production, including SAG-AFTRA, DGA, IATSE and the Teamsters, have joined with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and other producer representatives to form the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force and released a detailed set of proposed guidelines for the resumption of producing entertainment content. Members of the group have put the guidelines on their websites, and the following is summary of the five basic categories they address.
1. Infection Control: The guidelines detail procedures to minimize and prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including diagnostic testing, the use and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE), and hand hygiene for the cast, crew and anyone else on set. In addition, the guidelines cover disinfection and maintenance of the set, as well as props, transportation and the use of food and beverages.
2. Health and Safety of Cast and Crew: The guidelines recommend the hiring of a compliance officer for each production, as well as implementation of virus screening tests and a protocol for handling symptomatic personnel, including work hiatus and return.
3. Physical Distancing: Best practices are outlined for personnel depending on their roles, including actors, who may not be able to socially distance, crew and others whom the guidelines recommend continued remote working, such as writers and casting directors.
4. Training and Education: The guidelines suggest training for all personnel prior to commencement of production, including education on the disease and its symptoms as well as best practices during work, from personal hygiene and protection to proactive disinfecting procedures and physical distancing.
5. Unique Production-Specific Concerns: The guidelines address specific production issues, including personal practices for crew needing to be near performers (e.g., make-up artists), interaction of performers, rules for minors, and suggestions relating to other issues such as casting, transportation and on-location shoots.
Although these guidelines offer a blueprint for safe practices, the U.S. entertainment industry and each individual production will need to comply with specific state and local rules (as applicable) as well as federal protocols, including those from the CDC and OSHA. Nevertheless, to an industry that is eager to get back to work, as well as to consumers sheltering at home and craving new entertainment content, the guidelines represent a significant step towards the resumption of production as soon as federal, state and local governments allow.