June 8th 2020 marks our first week back to work since the outbreak of COVID-19. We wouldn’t necessarily say we’re fully back to work, but we’re on a recon to find out how a small business like ourselves can once again switch on our cameras and mics to start shooting again.
Hopefully, this blog will help anyone in our position to further understand the new guidelines and regulations which are being put in place in our industry. All official guidelines will be linked for further reading.
We have gone through countless articles and found the core documents from which they draw from. We’ve read them and we strongly advise you to do the same, but here are our takeaways which we feel relate to our company and companies of a similar size.
- Work From Home If You Can
This means anything from client meetings, team meetings, pre-production, and edit reviews to name a few should be done online. Basically, anything that can be done in the comfort of your own home should be.
For a fuss-free video conferencing app we recommend Jitsi. This video platform supports up to 75 participants per call.
2. Consider The Vulnerable
You may have staff or clients who are considered high risk for COVID-19. Talk to your staff, find out who they are, and figure out ways to minimise contact to keep them safe.
3. Reducing Numbers
What is the minimum number of people you can use to work and keep to your work standards? Keeping the team down to the core essentials. For us, we’re operating with a barebones crew to start with so this doesn’t affect us much but for bigger productions, you may need to consider creating ‘cells’. Cells are teams that don’t need to work together. For example, you could have a set of dressers that could come in, dress the set, and don’t need to be there for the shoot – therefore reducing the number of people on set at any one time and the number of people in contact.
4. Increased Awareness And Precautions At Work
Those who have to be on set will need to be aware that a precautionary approach to work needs to be applied. Minimising the risk wherever you can is the main goal here. You can do this by washing your hands frequently, wearing face masks, maintaining a 2m social distance where you can, and minimising contacts with your peers and the public. For the production team, you will need to make people aware of where the crew can wash their hands, and allow extra time for cleaning of gear and the location to the best of your ability.
We recommend buying this equipment as soon as possible to avoid any delays in having it available on set.
5. Pre-production Planning With COVID-19 In Mind
This is a new consideration to take into account when planning any shoot going forward. Trying to maximise the time where you can abide by social distancing is best. A few examples might be if you’re doing a single on a person, the person they are talking to doesn’t need to be near them off-camera they can be over 2m away maintaining social distance and as they’re off-camera can be wearing a face mask. If you’re doing a talking head in an office you can set up your camera and sound equipment and have everyone behind the camera socially distanced. Sound and camera departments should now aim to invest in wireless mics, follow focus’ and video feeds to keep this style of workflow off camera.
6. Mental Health and Wellbeing
Now more than ever mental health is paramount to the workplace. The extra pressure in people’s minds of COVID-19 has to be taken into account. Make sure that all people you are working with in person are fully comfortable with their working environment and that people that are working from home are not suffering from social isolation.
7. COVID-19 Tracking
Make sure that everyone is aware that if you or anyone you live with has any symptoms of coronavirus you must not come into work. Use the NHS ‘test and trace’ guide for help. An NHS Track and Trace app is in development.
If you experience symptoms after being in close contact with people for example after a location scout or a shoot, the whole crew that was there needs to be made aware and will have to isolate. If that person tests positive they will all need to be tested as well.
A minor GDPR note here is to make any talent or external crew aware that their contact details will need to be kept so that they can be contacted if this event occurs.
We really hope everyone is being as safe as possible. Like us, we’re sure you all can’t wait to get filming again and doing what you best. These have been very testing times for companies big and small.
Post-production and VFX: