The Association of Independent Commercial Producers has released guidelines for commercial productions as federal, state and local governments begin to lift their stay-at-home restrictions.
“Everyone wants to get back to work, and signs are there that we’ll soon be able to resume certain activities, including production and returning to offices,” said Matt Miller, president and CEO of AICP, a trade association that says its members account for 85% of all domestic commercials aired nationally on all media platforms. “We want to ensure our members have the tools and resources to do that in a safe and responsible manner. As such, it’s imperative that we formulate our own set of guidelines for getting back to work that are unique to our industry. We fully anticipate that these will be constantly updated as more information becomes available.”
The guidelines (read them here) note that obtaining permits for on-location filming in homes and businesses – commonplace in the pre-pandemic era of commercial shoots – might prove particularly difficult. “Neighbors or neighborhoods may have a diminished appetite for the presence of film crews. Acquiring signatures will be difficult logistically. Fewer people will be eager to provide signatures for filming activity on their street.”
The new guidelines include a detailed section of general practices for all worksites that addresses such topics as exposure reduction, surface transmission mitigation and the reduction of commonplace touchpoints. The production-specific guidelines include recommendations on casting, talent, wardrobe, hair and makeup, video village, camera and sound, transportation and the handling of equipment. The post production-specific guidelines address such areas of concern as supervised sessions, studio procedures, client requirements and social distancing.
“This document is by no means complete, nor is it presented as such,” Miller noted. “It will be amended frequently as the world comes back to a certain level of normalcy, and experience is gained. Items will be added, removed and reconfigured as we get back to work and learn from experience.
“It’s safe to assume that the way we approach work will be forever changed. With leadership and planning, this can come from a place of innovation, and not concession. While we do not yet know how our new practices will dovetail with outside entities, communication and understanding of these new practices must foster confidence with all parties who are part of and involved in the process. These factors will evolve, as will our practices, but the basic premise of working with the safety of individuals in mind will remain a constant.”
The production-specific guidelines include:
Talent – Actors/Extras
• Consider a temporary barrier between actors while establishing marks and positions.
• Consider alternate shot set-ups, camera angles, lenses, etc. to allow for maximum separation.
• Consider the number of Extras required.
• Provide ample space and infrastructure for Extras holding areas.
• Provide a pen for each Extra to keep while completing paperwork.
• Prep and execute talent paperwork digitally when possible.
• Provide actors with extra tender loving care. Remember, they have to give an on-screen performance.
Talent – Minors
• Allow ample time for permitting.
• Notify guardians to not bring non-essential persons.
• Provide ample space and infrastructure for schooling.
• Confirm you have PPE that fits minors.
• Provide PPE for teachers and guardians.
• Provide extra attention for children to ensure they follow safety guidelines.
• Avoid doing on-set hair or make-up unless absolutely necessary.
Hair & Make-Up
• Wear appropriate PPE for the duration of person-to-person contact.
• Provide space between make-up stations or provide a partition in between.
• Use single-use brushes and applicators if proper disinfectant cannot be guaranteed.
• Disinfect equipment in between uses.
• Mix foundation, powders, lipstick, etc. on a separate clean palette for each individual.
• Clean hairbrushes and combs with appropriate disinfecting solution.
• Have actors wear a mask when possible (e.g. while having their eyes or hair done).
• Only remove the actor’s PPE when essential.
• Once made up, actors may consider a face shield (as opposed to a mask) to not disturb completed make-up.
• Make-up Artist or Hairstylist may handle the placing / removing of face shields on the actor (if the actor prefers).
• Consider having the actor show up having done their own hair or make-up (confer with your Hair or Make-Up Artist first).
• Consider remote casting sessions and callbacks.
• Schedule in-person auditions and callbacks further apart to accommodate social distance.
• Require that actors honor their specified appointment time.
• Distribute scripts digitally.
• Check in talent from outside the casting office.
• Sign actors in and out digitally if possible, otherwise assign one individual to do so.
• Minimize the number of personnel working with actors.
• Simulate props by utilizing an actor’s personal item (phone, etc).
• Place partition between or provide appropriate PPE for actors during in-person group auditions.
• Include wardrobe specs in the breakdown to increase the likelihood of being able to use the actor’s personal wardrobe.
• Wear appropriate PPE for the duration of person-to-person contact.
• Wear PPE when preparing the wardrobe.
• Plan wardrobe ahead of shopping / pulling from rental houses.
* Use PPE when looking through garments in rental houses and retail stores.
* Anticipate delays at rental houses and retail stores.
* Review current retail return and exchange policies.
• Book talent as early as possible, and get sizes as early as possible.
• Encourage remote alternatives to stages for selecting wardrobe.
• Sanitize jewelry and glasses with appropriate, non-damaging cleaning solutions.
• Consider having actors arrive in their own wardrobe, as much as possible.
• Assign one person to take fitting photos.
• Costumes and outfits should be bagged up individually, by performer.
• Seek permission from Clients to allow actors to keep purchased wardrobe.
• Investigate requirements for cast/crew entry to stages.
• Plan for extra security/screening time for gate entry.
• Discuss sanitary practices performed or provided by studio operations staff.
• Understand all differing requirements of staffing, catering and access for each facility.
• Prepare for quarantine measures at a multi-stage facility where other productions may be taking place.
• Provide a clean work environment.
• Utilize locations repped by agents / services (as opposed to cold scouting) when possible.
• Assign one individual to handle (post and remove) location signs.
• Close every set. No non-essential visitors — must be actively monitored.
• Require the owner of a location to reduce personal belongings prior to shooting.
• Apply for permits as early as possible.
*Neighbors or neighborhoods may have a diminished appetite for the presence of film crews.
* Acquiring signatures will be difficult logistically.
* Fewer people will be eager to provide signatures for filming activity on their street.
• Execute location contracts as early as possible.
• Anticipate providing alternative lodging to house occupants for the duration of the shoot (may be best for them not to return home in between crew working in the home).
• Anticipate possibility of having to board animals.
• Wear PPE at all times when preparing or handling food.
• Stagger meals times when possible.
• Serve food from the truck window or from individual boxes.
• Provide plenty of tables and seating (outdoors when possible) to allow for social distance.
• Provide a washing station in close proximity to the meal area.
• Provide only single-serve packaged condiments.
• Provide individual, prepackaged portioned snacks and other food items.
• Refill reusable water bottles without person-to-person contact, and without contact between bottle and dispenser.
• Wash hands before entering the catering or craft service area.
• Craft service may not cook or prepare food.
• Assign one person to distribute drinks.
• Stagger call times by department, when possible.
• Build in time for each department to “step in, step out” at a time.
• Decide whether a prep, pre-light, or strike day will be required.
• Strive to keep the same individuals on an entire job (as opposed to individuals swapping in and out), thereby minimizing the number of interpersonal contact.
• Schedule pick-up from camera house if necessary.
• Handling of camera equipment should be done only by members of the camera department.
• Look for other procedures offered by camera houses to minimize the number of handlers.
• PPE must be worn for the duration of person-to-person contact.
• Disinfect Comteks before and after each use.
• Label Comteks with the name of the user.
• Disinfect Lav mics and transmitters before and after each use.
• Replace Lav mounting components that can not be thoroughly cleaned.
• Consider utilizing boom-only audio (as opposed to rigging Lav mics).
Unions & Guilds
If working with union or guild-represented employees, be mindful of requirements as outlined in the agreement(s) you are signatory to. Reasonable discussions should lead to practical solutions when analyzing new scenarios in these unprecedented times.
* Review Paid Time Off policy for conformity with new state and federal guidance.
* Consider Policies for employees’ travelling- locally and long distance.
* Establish responsible policies for staff to self-diagnosis and report health symptoms.
The AICP’s general practices for all worksites include:
• Incorporate pertinent COVID-19 considerations into Daily Safety Meeting. Scheduling and carrying out multiple meetings may be required if staggering start times.
• Employers may conduct basic testing and request COVID-19 related health history/information from current or prospective employees. All Employers should familiarize themselves with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rules in this simple Q&A to create company policy and procedures for each work environment.
• Provide a washing station when there is no access to running water.
• Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol (self-dispensing when possible).
• Separate washing stations from hand sanitizers, for maximum ease of access.
• Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all personnel that do not provide their own.
• Encourage people to supply their own PPE, especially if they have specific preferences.
• Set up work stations and locations for proper distancing (i.e. implement 6 feet markings on floors where personnel need to line up, or proper seating to congregate for meals).
• Designate pathways as one-way when possible.
• Store and stock adequate supply of all required PPE.
• Consider staggering arrival times to avoid congestion in elevators, lobbies and studio common areas.
• Consider shifting work day start and end times to avoid rush hour commutes.
• Request that building management share with you their preparedness plans and confirm that building staff have appropriate PPE and are adequately educated regarding social distancing and cleaning / disinfecting protocols.
• Request from building management a safety data sheet for all chemicals used for cleaning and have them confirm that the building’s cleaning equipment is operational and maintained.
• Confirm that management has inspected and maintained building equipment outside of your control.
• All personnel should familiarize themselves with the current Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 information.
• Self-monitor for signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and report to your department head if you are sick or experiencing symptoms.
• Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose.
• Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• Utilize PPE, including but not limited to masks that cover the nose and mouth, face shields, goggles, gloves, finger cots, etc. as needed or required.
• Replace PPE as necessary.
• Dispose, clean, or store PPE properly.
• Limit physical presence to essential personnel.
• Maintain good ventilation. Keep windows and doors open when possible, but open at least periodically to cycle the air.
• Maintain social distance of a minimum of 6 feet whenever possible.
• Masks should be worn in the presence of others and absolutely required when 6 foot social distance is not possible.
• Maintain personal hygiene and follow CDC advice (e.g. sneeze or cough into the elbow or tissue).
• Work with the Producer and Department Heads to follow proper sanitary guidelines.
Surface Transmission Mitigation:
• Ensure that proper sanitary measures are being taken by the departments and corresponding equipment and space, with the assistance of the producer, department heads and managers.
• Designate individual(s) for overall housekeeping.
• Post signage to remind people to wash their hands.
• Designate area to receive deliveries outside vs. inside office / motorhome and publicly post sanitary policies clearly for messengers and deliveries.
• Provide no-touch trash disposal.
• Supply appropriate disposal receptacles for PPE.
• Provide appropriate disinfectant supplies to all personnel.
• Maintain regular housekeeping practices in your immediate space, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, equipment, and other elements of the work environment.
• Use appropriate disinfectant to avoid damaging surfaces.
Reduce Commonplace Touchpoints:
• Provide a sensor-activated environment when possible (water coolers, toilets, faucets, soap dispensers, hand dryers, and hand sanitizer dispensers).
• Provide finger cots or gloves for any shared equipment (e.g. copy machine, microwave).
• Assign individual (or small group access) designated printers and scanners when possible.
• Where possible, limit employees who can access different areas to be able to confine contact in tight areas (machine room, IT area, bullpens, etc).
• Assign tasks to specific individuals when possible (e.g. one person turns office lights on/off, one person adjusts thermostats, etc).
• Provide specific office supplies, such as pens (and have individuals label and keep them).
• Clean and sanitize all surfaces including high touch areas (fixtures, light switches, appliance handles, and buttons, etc.) on arrival and departure of staff and clients.
• Ensure adequate stock of paper and plastic products exists (toilet paper, paper towels, etc.).
• Eliminate self-serve areas in the kitchen (includes coffee).
○ Do not provide snack bowls or unpackaged goods.
○ Do not provide fruit that isn’t individually wrapped.
○ Do not provide shared platters (charcuterie, cheese and crackers, etc).
• Stagger group meals to allow for social distancing guidelines.
• Use your cell phone as opposed to a landline.
• Park and move your own car.
• Use personal/reusable water bottles (clearly labeled with owner’s name), dishes, and flatware when sanitary conditions for use can be maintained. Otherwise, use ecologically friendly single use flatware, plates, and cups.
• Use contactless payment (as opposed to petty cash) whenever possible.
• Do not share cell phones, tablets, or computers.
The guidelines were developed by the AICP in collaboration with a working group led by Andrew Colon, Chief Operating Officer at SMUGGLER, and Andrea McIntyre, Staff Production Supervisor of RadicalMedia, who solicited input that addressed the needs of both production and post production environments from a committee that included Eric Brown, Fixer Inc.; Sheila Eisenstein, Ruffian; Bonnie Goldfarb, harvest; Marian Harkness, Hungry Man; Michael Kaliski, Good Planet Innovation; Michael Moffett, PSN; Susan Munro, Hybrid; Caroline Pham, Iconoclast; Valerie Romer, Iconoclast; Clarissa Troop, Great Guns USA; and Carl Zucker, Carl Zucker Consulting.