While Hollywood unions and studios are still discussing protocols for safe returns to production amid a coronavirus pandemic, the Australian film and TV industry has released COVID Safe Guide to help restore their industry.
Spanning 41 pages, this is the most comprehensive set of official countries or country recommendations to date, discussing in detail every aspect of production. (You can read it in full below.)
Regarded as a ‘direct’ document that will develop as best practices develop when projects return to production, the document was produced by the Australian Screen Sector Task Force, which consists of members from Australian Film TV & Radio School, a public incentive agency private Ausfilm, Federal agent screen Australia, the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance union, state and territory agencies, guilds, Australian Broadcasting Co., Special Broadcasting Service and major production companies including Endemol Shine Australia and Fremantle Australia, the series Neighbors became the first suspended TV drama in the English-speaking world set safety protocols and restart production.
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“This guide is an important tool to help the Australian industry return to business to create the world’s leading screen story,” said Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason. By using the guideline as a benchmark, each production must develop its own plan.
With this guideline, Australia signs up: Open For Business ”for outside production companies, including Hollywood studios. “As a nation, our response to controlling this virus is unmatched, putting us in a unique position to not only return to work on local production, but also to attract international production who are looking for a safe and experienced home base,” said SPA CEO Matthew Deaner.
The guidelines cover everything from general information about COVID-19 for risk management, insurance and incident management and control. (COVID Safe Risk Assessment Template is also being developed.)
The most interesting are Mandatory Control Actions and Specific Control Actions.
That Mandatory Control Actions (pages 15-17) including the requirements for Physical Distance, including limiting the number of people in all areas to only important personnel; Cleanliness; Work Settings, including stagger start, finish and break times, and film outdoors, rather than indoors, if possible; Contractor and Supplier Management, including implementing contactless delivery; Health Monitoring, including screening to detect COVID-19 symptoms as early as possible; practice, including conducting daily toolbox talks to remind workers of the COVID-19 protocol; Planning, Communication and Consultation, including appointing a COVID Safe Supervisor, and appropriate support personnel; and Personal protective equipment, including the use of appropriate PPE, such as masks, eye protection and gloves.
Special Control Measures (pages 18 – 31) are optional but recommended safety guidelines for each stage – Development and Pre-Production, Production and Post Production – and for each individual and group production area involved – Actor, Catering, Assistant Director / Director / Script Supervisor, Camera, Handrail and Lighting, Sound, Department of Art, Location, Costumes / Wardrobe, Hair and Makeup, Safety and Medical, Transportation, Units, Workshops, Offices, Domestic and International Travel, Mental Health and Testing.
Here are a few important things:
- The temporary pandemic took many facilities for actors who were encouraged to dress themselves, do their own hair and makeup, including touches and makeup removal, and carry out their own checks, if possible. Hair and makeup should be provided for the feature cast, if possible. All crew members near the cast are asked to wear PPE.
- The cast members must give written approval to work in scenes that require close contact or intimacy in their contract, with details about such scenes are revealed in casting brief as part of the audition process. Production schedules must be changed to ensure that scenes that require close contact or physical intimacy filmed either together or at a later stage in production, with quarantine for everyone involved in filming scenes is advised. Background performance should be not asked to do any scene that requires close contact or intimacy.
- All departments are asked to use equipment / props / pieces of color-coded costumes (with masking tape / stickers) to identify when the equipment has been cleaned and is ready for further use.
- All production documents must be digitized, including call sheets; all accounting must be carried out electronically without payment in cash
- Pre-production and post-production must be done remotely if possible
- Production is requested to carry out team separation permanently to minimize cross contamination
- Additional time will be needed for many tasks to ensure social distance by having one department at a time and to clean sets, clothes and props. Currently waiting for members of the costume / wardrobe members to travel to departments and vintage shops because they are asked to give extra time to purchase / ship online and separate each equipment and to give briefings and advise background players about costume choices. In addition, for international talent and crew, production needs to build additional time to comply with the current 14 days mandatory quarantine for international arrivals
- There should be no more buffet-style food, with meals and drinks stumbling in a single serving container
- Most crew members will be asked to carry COVID-19 kits in their vehicles containing masks, gloves, disinfectant wipes and cleanser.
To illustrate how detailed Australian guidelines are, here are some examples of recommendations that are very specific or just common sense:
- Require the cast to hold the hand-held props from the sanitary bag and return the support to the same bag after completion
- Require individuals to replace their own batteries in the communication unit
- Send a sound card or drive (cleaned with disinfectant wipes) to the data manager only once a day
- Limit display seekers to individual uses, and require sanitation after each use
- Plan purchases to minimize the trips needed to the brick and mortar store
Here are the complete documents:
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