Producing During the COVID-19 Reopening

By Jo Ann Kessler  | 

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) have each published comprehensive guidelines to assist the film, TV and commercial production communities to safely resume work. The reports describe the precautions and protocols that have been proposed in order to protect the health and well-being of everyone who will be involved in the process of creating content and commercials during the on-going COVID pandemic.  

These guidelines require the Employers of performers and crew to comply with the safety measures outlined and also with federal, state and local governmental rules that will apply as “re-openings” unfold around the country. SAG-AFTRA was a participant in the Task Force that created the White Paper guidelines for the Motion Picture industry. Currently SAG-AFTRA is working on its own set of guidelines for Employers of performers specific to the commercial industry, and expects to publish those imminently. Until those guidelines become available, the union will require Employers to engage with them in an approval process prior to every production.

For now, Employers must submit a script (or storyboard or treatment) to the union for review as soon as plans to produce are approved, and before casting and production can commence. The signatory Employer will contact either Tracy Hyman for East Coast or Beth Haynes for West Coast productions to organize a pre-pro discussion including the union, production company and Employer reps. SAG-AFTRA will want to review the script, the plans for casting, and, importantly, the production company’s and the current governmental COVID Safety Guidelines for the area where the production will take place.

Among the standard questions and plans that are likely to be considered during this process will be:

  • Size of principal and extra casts each day
  • Casting process: Remote, via self-tape, in-person callbacks?
  • Description of any scenes or roles requiring close contact
  • Shoot site: set or location?
  • Travel requirements 
  • # of pre-pro and workdays; staggered start times
  • Pre-production COVID training for cast and crew
  • Distancing plans
  • Provisions for wardrobe, hair & makeup
  • Designated COVID-19 Safety Coordinator at the shoot
  • On-set reviews of safety measures for cast and crew
    • PPE equipment and training for cast and crew
    • Review of hygiene issues – hand sanitizers, washing stations, bathrooms, etc
    • Daily COVID testing for cast and crew
    • Provisions for food

Once the union publishes their guidelines, we anticipate these meetings will no longer be necessary. In the meantime, if you have questions or need assistance or additional research to be able to get back to work, please contact your ER manager.  

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