When and how to restart video production safely is one of the biggest questions in marketing and advertising right now. In this article, we share the biggest changes you can expect on a video production set during COVID-19 and how our industry is adapting.
This list summarizes the key changes we’ll be implementing on our sets. It is not all inclusive. We recommend reading the full guidelines from AICP and others before doing your own production day. Lots of helpful links below.
How to restart video production safely during COVID-19
1. Check your local laws and regulations.
Before we dive into what we’re doing to safely restart video production, I do want to emphasize that every state and locality has different rules. Since we’re based in Chicago, our guidelines are based on what we can and can’t do here in Chicago and in Illinois.
Your state or city may have different rules. We recommend starting with your local government website’s coronavirus response page and your local film office. To find your local film office, SAGindie has a great list.
2. Keep your crew as small as possible.
Best practice based on CDC guidelines is to minimize the size of any group of people, especially if you are shooting indoors. The safest option is to have less than 10 people.
The 10 people rule does not mean 10 people in the studio at any given time with 10 more people coming in and out. It means that each person on your set should not interact with more than nine other people on any given production day.
Practically, that means thinking about how you can keep different teams separate. For example, consider having your video village in a room with its own entrance. That way, your account team or client does not have to interact directly with talent or the camera department.
Consider creative solves for reducing the number of talent on your set. Ask your director or director of photography what angles to shoot to minimize the need for extras.
3. Conduct a daily symptom questionnaire before allowing anyone on set.
Before allowing anyone to enter your set, ask them a symptom questionnaire. You can have a dedicated person asking these questions at the entrance, or you can ask people to check themselves before leaving home in the morning.
Make it clear to your crew that you will still pay them for the day if they stay home. You don’t want to encourage anyone to come to set despite feeling sick. Have backup crew members for key positions on call and already onboarded to the project.
Temperature checks are also an option, used in conjunction with the symptom questionnaire. Testing would be the gold standard, but is probably not a realistic option for smaller commercial productions.
4. Provide masks, hand washing stations, and hand sanitizer. Consider face shields for talent.
All crew and talent should wear masks at all times. Provide disposable masks if you can. Have hand washing stations and hand sanitizer available, and encourage people to wash their hands at regular intervals and before eating.
Talent is a unique situation. After they sit in hair and makeup, you probably don’t want them to wear a mask. Consider providing face shields for them to wear when they are not on camera. That way they can protect themselves and others without messing up their makeup.
Gloves are generally not recommended. They can provide a false sense of security. Hand washing and sanitizers are best practice.
5. Consider not shooting on location, especially not in client offices. Shoot on controlled studio sets or other places without public access.
As commercial video producers, we often shoot in client offices or on location. Avoid shooting on location unless it is empty of workers (which it might be right now!).
Shooting in a studio or empty space helps you create a controlled environment. You can sanitize the space each night knowing that no one but your crew and talent have access to the space.
6. Have a dedicated Compliance Assistant or safety PA on set to enforce the rules.
Though adding another crew member seems counterintuitive, we recommend having a dedicated person on set whose only job is to enforce social distancing and keep things sanitized.
This person should be fully trained on safety and best practices. They must be empowered to tell crew to keep masks on, call for handwashing breaks, and sanitize surfaces regularly throughout the day.
7. Provide boxed meals and stagger lunch breaks.
Craft service is traditionally buffet-style. Instead, offer boxed lunches and bottled water. Require hand washing before touching any food tables.
Stagger lunch breaks to minimize people sitting together without masks. If possible, have tables outside for people to eat at. Have your safety PA sanitize tables between uses.
For more information, check out our podcast episode or video below.
More video production and COVID-19 resources
Sample symptom questionnaire (Chicago’s guidelines linked above also include one)