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Filming During COVID: Is It Worth the Hassle or Do You Wait?

Did you have a current project that was scheduled to be filmed in L.A. during COVID, and now you’re scrambling for a contingency plan? 

Most producers usually have a contingency plan in case of an emergency.  However, no one could have foreseen or planned for the COVID pandemic. We live in unprecedented times, and the world we live in has forever changed.

All film sets now have strict health and safety guidelines for all creatives in the film industry. To ensure everyone’s safety, The L.A. County Department of Health and Safety has implemented strict guidelines for filming. 

Here is some key guidelines for film sets:

  •  All film sets need to hire a COVID-19 Compliance Officer (C19CO). The C19CO is responsible for establishing and enforcing COVID-19 safety protocols, training staff on protocols, and monitoring compliance. 
  •  Workplace provides all personal protective equipment (PPE) and infection prevention supplies needed on the job, including face coverings, hand sanitizer, disinfectants, and (when needed) gloves, mobile handwashing stations, and other equipment and supplies.
  • All employees and visitors are required to wear cloth face coverings whenever they are in contact with others unless the production activity does not allow for the wearing of a cloth face covering.
  • There is regular, periodic testing of the cast and crew on a given production to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19.
  • Employee screenings are conducted before employees may enter the workspace. Checks must include a check-in concerning cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and fever or chills and if the employee has had contact with a person known to be infected COVID-19 in the last 14 days. 
  • Employees (including staff, cast, crew, vendors, and clients) who have contact with others are offered, at no cost, an appropriate face covering that covers the nose and mouth.
  • Employees are instructed to wash or replace their face coverings daily. 
  • All workstations are separated by at least six feet.
  • Break rooms, restrooms, and other common areas should be disinfected frequently: Distribution area, Make up/ Hair and Costume areas, Cast Green Rooms or trailers, Break rooms, and Restrooms 
  • All shared equipment, microphones, and tools must be disinfected after each use. 
  • All shared clothing must be cleaned after each use. 
  • All wigs or other shared prosthetics must be disinfected after each use. 
  • Only essential cast and crew should be on or near the set at any time. 
  • Where feasible, all workspaces shall have one directional traffic (separate entrances and exits) to prevent contact or crowding near doorways.
  • All staff, cast, crew, musicians, vendors, clients and other visitors have been instructed to maintain at least a six (6) feet distance from each other at all times, except when specific tasks require closer work. 
  • In offices, film and sound editing areas, employee workstations are separated by at least six (6) feet and common areas are configured to limit employee gatherings to ensure physical distancing of at least six (6) feet.
  • All contracts, scripts, music sheets, and any other documents that are normally shared are either distributed digitally, or are printed and individually assigned to cast, crew and musicians to avoid sharing. 
  • All visitors, are instructed that they must wear cloth face coverings over their nose and mouth at all times in the facility unless they are alone in a closed office.
  • All props, costumes and set materials must be disinfected before first use on the set, and between uses by different actors.
  • All cast shall wash or sanitize hands when beginning the filming of a scene and not touch their face during the filming session. Any crew that must interact with the set or cast must also wash or sanitize their hands.
  •  Any work, including scenes, requiring cast or crew to be closer than six (6) feet must be as brief as possible and cast must be as silent as possible to avoid spreading droplets through talking.
  •  Large crowd scenes should be avoided. 
  • All on location filming must adhere to operating hours between 7am and 10pm whenever feasible.
  • All actors and crew shall wash or sanitize hands before handling any food.
  •  No buffets allowed.
  •  No communal food or drink service (no coffee pot, no single service coffee maker).
  •  All food and drink must be single serving only.
  • Sit-down meals: either require eating in shifts, or seating areas large enough to allow for physical distancing of six (6) feet or more.
  • All on location filming must adhere to operating hours between 7am and 10pm whenever feasible.

If you would like to read or download the entire PDF of The County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health and Safety, then please visit https://www.filmla.com/covid-19/

After reading the long detailed guidelines, you might feel like wearing a “bubble suit” to protect yourself. It’s no wonder so many filmmakers are either pushing back their shoot dates, or moving their film location to another state/country. 

For example the state of Georgia does have COVID guidelines for film sets and locations, but they’re not as restricted as in California. Therefore, a plethora of filmmakers are moving their film sets/locations to Atlanta: less restrictions, cost-effective, and a competitive lucrative tax credit from the state. 

If you had a film that was scheduled to be filmed in L.A. or California, would you wait until the COVID virus subsided, move the film location to another state/country, or would you all together the cancel the shoot? 

2 comments on “Filming During COVID: Is It Worth the Hassle or Do You Wait?

  1. gia2244 says:

    Interesting post. Well if I had a project I would get back at it, life goes on. You just have to take all of the necessary precautions, follow the guidelines and safety rules and recommendations, and that is it. that being said I have a friend working on her production and it is really a hassle especially budget wise for a small production or independent movie. It is definitely not easy. So many productions by the way were already moving to Georgia because of their incentive policy for movie making, and now I guess here is one more reason to move too….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree with you. If an indie film company decides to preceded with production, the company will have to fork out an insane amount of money to maintain all the state’s health guidelines.

      I have a couple of projects in the pre-production, and I decided it would be (financially) wise to wait until next year.

      Like

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