British Film Commission safety protocols for high-end film and scripted television
Updated: May 19
Deadline Hollywood is reporting having seen a leaked draft of the British Film Commission (BFI)'s plan to keep high-end film and TV scripted shoots safe from the scourge of coronavirus. The BFC’s Film And TV Production Codes of Practice has been drawn together using input from key industry players, including Netflix, BAFTA, Disney, HBO and Bectu, and aims to provide the government with a “comprehensive and realistic vision” for how big-budget productions can return to work safely.
Deadline reports having seen a copy of the document on May 5, 2020, and states that the BFC’s Film And TV Production Codes of Practice has been drawn together using input from key industry players, including Netflix, BAFTA, Disney, HBO and Bectu, and aims to provide the government with a “comprehensive and realistic vision” for how big-budget productions can return to work safely.
The document seen by Deadline is dated May 5 and is not the final version of the protocols. It will be subject to a period of industry consultation over the next 10 days, meaning it is very likely to change before being written in stone.
The draft Film And TV Production Codes Of Practice runs to 30 pages and breaks down the production process into 27 areas, offering detailed guidance on how to make sure cast and crew are protected from an outbreak of COVID-19.
Below is a rundown of some of the key standards recommended in the document, with eye-catching advice including that all productions appoint a properly authorized COVID-19 supervisor to oversee on-set safety. The document also features guidance on pre-shoot safety training, testing, quarantining foreign actors, social distancing and catering.
It is drafted to help big-budget film and TV shows, such as The Batman and The Witcher, get back on track following the coronavirus shut down in March. The guidelines are designed to be scalable for productions of different sizes and can be used alongside company-specific protocols. The BFC makes clear it is not responsible for enforcing the codes of practice.
The BFC guidelines form part of the work of its Inward Investment Recovery Group, which is feeding into the BFI’s COVID-19 Taskforce proposals on how the creative industries can recover from the coronavirus pandemic. These proposals will shared with the UK government, which has been observing industry conversations in recent weeks.
Key takeaways from the draft BFC Film And TV Production Codes Of Practice:
All crew must take coronavirus safety training two days before a shoot
On-set supervision and enforcement
Every production should have a COVID-19 supervisor, who has the authority to stop work if it becomes unsafe
There should be daily briefings on best practice, with posters hung on walls and online tools made available
Extra security should be hired to manage exit and entry points on-set
Testing and health checks
Cast and crew should undergo pre-shoot health screenings and have their temperature checked twice a day
If a member of the team displays coronavirus symptoms, they should be sent home or to their accommodation on private transport
Social distancing and mental health
Cast and crew should observe 2-meter social distancing rules. Where this is not possible, the time people spend together should be limited and they should work back-to-back or shoulder-to-shoulder, rather than face-to-face
People should avoid physical contact when greeting each other, including fist and elbow bumps
Producers should make extra provisions for mental health, offering support for heightened stress and anxiety
Airlines operating appropriate social distancing and hygiene measures should be favored
Domestic public transport should be a “last resort” and vehicle sharing should be limited
Quarantining for foreign cast and crew
Cast and crew from outside the UK should be quarantined and tested following government guidelines
Communication with those in quarantine should be done remotely through phone or video calls
Cast and crew on-set
Cast and crews should be organized into numerous cohorts so that departments are separated
Shoots should build in extra preparation time to allow departments to work alone, such as set dressing and lighting
Shared equipment should be sanitized
Access to shared working spaces should be limited
Remote communication tools should be used wherever possible
There should be no communal food preparation, storage or serving
Single-use foods and eating utensils should be encouraged
Mealtimes should be staggered
Staff should be dedicated to cleaning all work areas
Communal spaces such as toilets and dressing rooms should be deep cleaned daily
Waste should be disposed of safely
Sets should be locked down when not in use
Personal and hired equipment should not be shared and where this is unavoidable, it should be regularly disinfected
Crowd scenes should be replaced with CGI where possible to reduce the number of supporting artists on set
Extras should be kept socially distanced, should not be facing each other and should be on set for as little time as possible
They should do their own hair and makeup where possible
Art department and set dressing
Art department crew should be given more time to sanitize props, furniture, and set dressings that come into contact with cast and crew
The handling of key props should be limited to the relevant actors
Props and decorations should be purchased online where possible
Fittings should take place off-set or remotely where possible
Physical contact should be kept at a minimum and those involved should use PPE
Costumes should be hung in plastic wrappings when not in use to avoid cross-contamination
Hair and makeup
Keep hair and makeup stations 2 meters apart, and ban food and drink
PPE should be used to set up stations, tools should be allocated to cast members and single-use applicators will be important
Products should be sealed and disinfected when not in use
Locations should be of sufficient size to allow for social distancing and be isolated from the public
Locations should be scouted by one person and deep cleaned at the end of each day of shooting
Dressed sets should be quarantined for 72 hours before a shoot