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  • Writer's pictureGiles Gough

Production Tips: Covid Safety Protocols

Updated: May 17, 2021

Filmmaking has always been a collaborative sport, which has meant that Covid has brought it almost to a screeching halt. At the time of writing, there are talks of crews isolating together for 14 days before production starts, which is all well and good for the big studios, but if your production crew is a bit bigger than you, your mum and your nan, this will not be an option. So if you have to make your film, make sure to be thinking about safety right before you even script anything. If the story will work outside, shoot outside, find a reason why you wouldn’t have any extras and if you can, film people separately. If you have to film inside though, here’s a nowhere near exhaustive list of the things to think about.

1. Face masks & gloves Hand sanitisation

This is the obvious stuff you already know. Wash your hands like everything is raw chicken and do it for the length of time it takes to sing the first chorus of ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ or whatever is your song of choice. Supply everyone with disposable gloves and I’d suggest visors over masks in order to make it easier to read expressions. Treat yourself and everyone else like they’re already infected because with 60% of Covid patients being asymptomatic, they might well be.

2. Keep cast & crew as separate as possible

Sadly, the cast are the only ones who can’t wear PPE (unless you wrote that in the script!) so you want to expose them to as few people as possible. Keep them out of your break out room and if possible, have separate toilet facilities. Staggered start times are also good but remember to be realistic with how long you think scenes will take to shoot.

3. Spaced out green room

If you can, give the crew a nice big space to chill out when not needed and only call people on set when they are essential. If you can make this an outside area even better. Have multiple bins easily accessible to reduce foot traffic to the same spot.

4. Label everything and share as little as possible.

This goes for everything from equipment to food. Avoid buffets and have fun beforehand labelling drinks & snacks and putting together little lunchboxes for people. Or if people want to bring their own food, that’s great too.

5. Zoom in as much as possible.

The greater the zoom, the further away your camera operator can be from the subject, making it safer for both.

6. Increase airflow if inside

This might be a pain, due to noise pollution, but try to open windows between takes to increase air circulation and to give people in masks a break.

7. Boom poles rather than lapel mics.

Don’t be afraid to extend that boom as far as possible and give that boom operator a chance to work on those muscles. If individual recorders and lapel mics have to be used, make sure that it’s labelled, they are trained how to use it and that it’s sterilised after use.

8. Screening cast & crew

Sometimes people forget to volunteer information, like whether they’ve just come back from holiday, or recently attended a large birthday party. Make sure to ask these obvious and sometimes awkward questions to each person involved in your project. You don’t need their whole medical history, but you do need to know if they might put your whole crew at risk. In return, encourage people to ask questions specific to the safety of their role.

9. Keep a record of everyone who visits the set

You will almost certainly already have contact details for most of the people who are on your crew (how would you have found them otherwise?) but in case anyone brought along a friend or if someone popped by in the middle of filming, a list of people, with contact details all in one place will be essential if someone tells you at a later date that they tested positive.

This is just a few things to think about, has even more suggestions for how to stay safe. Also, Safe Sets international offer a free certification that is obtained by reading information and passing a quiz with a score of 80% or higher. The entire process takes less than 30 minutes and, upon successful completion, individuals are immediately given a digital certificate. Why not insist that all crew have completed one before arriving? Check it out here:

So why not try these out and let me know how it works out by finding me on twitter @giles_gough

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