The Association of Independent Commercial Producers has updated its guidelines and recommendations for the safe return to work on commercial shoots. “Having produced hundreds of commercials under the previous five versions of the guidelines since late April, we all continue to learn,” the AICP said in the new preamble to its recommendations. “We’ve proven our commitment to the business and to each other and have proven our ability to adapt.”
“AICP launched these guidelines knowing they would continuously evolve as production restarted around the country,” said AICP president and CEO Matt Miller. “By emphasizing sensible procedures and safety protocols, we can all work together to ensure the safety and well-being of all cast and crew on a set.”
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The AICP, whose members account for 85% of all domestic commercials aired nationally, still says that the polling of cast and crew for COVID-19 symptoms before they show up for work is the best way to prevent the on-set spread of the virus. “Currently, reliable testing with timely results for active cases is not readily available on-site, and varies geographically. Therefore, symptomatic polling is the most reliable screening process.”
But where it previously said that temperature-taking and antibody testing “are not reliable screening indicators,” it is now saying that periodic temperature-taking is a good course of action. “While this is not a failsafe measure, it can be an effective way of identifying a symptomatic person who did not report a fever at the time of reporting via screening or check in,” read the latest guidlines.
The County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health requires testing for COVID-19 on film and television productions, but exempts short-running productions like commercials from testing.
The AICP’s latest update is the first since more than 300 IATSE members signed a letter in July urging their leaders to demand stronger protocols for commercial shoots – and since the August 29 death of assistant director John Nolan, who came down with COVID-19 symptoms in mid-July after working on a six-say shoot for a State Farm commercial in Texas, though it has yet to be determined where or how he contracted the virus. Actors working on a recent beer commercial, meanwhile, received notice from the ad’s producers that a crew member on the shoot had contracted the virus, but were told that the crew member had not come in close contact with them.
The sixth and latest version of the AICP’s guidelines include new considerations and planning recommendations for ad agencies and advertisers; numerous new recommendations for transportation and travel; and links to safety protocols adopted by various IATSE locals including Cinematographers Guild Local 600, Sound Local 695, Prop Local 44, and Make-Up & Hair Stylists Local 706 in Los Angeles and Local 798 in New York.
In the preamble to its recommendations, the AICP notes that a constant since it first launched its guidelines in late April “is the emphasis placed on remaining diligent in placing an unprecedented amount of thought and planning with steadfast attention to hygiene and sanitation to maintain safe and healthy work environments. By proactively articulating our resolve toward this goal, we hope to continue to inspire the confidence of all participants, as well as civic leaders and regulators. We want our industry to function with full confidence that we are doing so responsibly, taking into consideration every angle of keeping all personnel on our sets and in our facilities, safe.
“Depending on the specifics of the work location, the composition of employees, and the overall conditions dictated by the rules of civil authorities, practical adjustments will have to be made using individual judgement. It is safe to assume that the way we approach work has forever been changed. With leadership and planning, we can approach this from a place of innovation rather than concession, finding new ways to work safely, efficiently, and effectively.
“All facets of our business must ensure the level of safety for all involved, by all involved, and should never be compromised. We must be mindful and realistic about factors such as time and cost that will be affected by necessary diligence. While we are constantly developing new practices to dovetail with outside entities, communication and understanding of these new practices must foster confidence with all parties who are part of the process. Other entities that influence or establish employee-based rules (unions, OSHA, etc.) and government authorities (Federal, State, Local or Foreign) that will have varying degrees of oversight regarding how we congregate in offices, facilities and on-set will continue to challenge our approaches (e.g. size of groupings allowed). These factors will evolve, as will our practices, but the basic premise of working with the safety of individuals in mind, and respect for all those in the surrounding environments in which we work will be a constant – and will inherently prefigure any developing requirements.
“One thing is for sure: planning to work with the fewest number of people in close proximity to each other will not only put evolving rules at the forefront of our minds, but it will create a sense of confidence amongst participants that safety measures are in place, and are of paramount concern to us. These new practices will require patience and mutual respect. Each company will implement the following guidelines, as works best for differing scenarios. Experience by our membership leads to responsible behavior that will ultimately become second nature for all personnel.
“While there can be no equivocating when it comes to maintaining a safe work environment, our industry is comprised of filmmaking professionals who have each other’s backs, at every turn of a project, this dynamic is of even greater importance when it comes to health and safety. There will undoubtedly be times when an individual will need to be reminded that they can step off the set and go outside for some mask-less fresh air, there will be times when an individual will need to be reminded to check their distance from another individual, there will be times when an individual will need to be reminded to wash their hands or fix their PPE. Any amount of designated COVID personnel cannot be in all places at all times. Any participant on any production not only has the right to help correct something in need of correcting, they should feel compelled to and should be encouraged to take action by those in charge. This goes between departments, and it knows no rank. And, this should not be done from the position of anger or shame. This is us having each other’s backs in a time where the entire world needs to have each other’s backs.
“For the foreseeable future, we will keep offering insights and commonsense guidance, with the goal of maintaining the responsible, productive industry we are so proud to be a part of.”
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