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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:


Coronavirus training

  • 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


Transport


  • 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


Catering

  • There should be no communal food preparation, storage or serving

  • Single-use foods and eating utensils should be encouraged

  • Mealtimes should be staggered


Workplace hygiene


  • 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


  • 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


Costume department


  • 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


  • 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

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