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South Africa Releases New Rulebook Guidelines for Commercial Film Production

Updated: May 18, 2020

The information in this article was current as of its publication date. Check the CPA-SA website for the most up-to-date information. This information was originally provided in JPG format. Text conversion provided by TimeJump Media.

The new regulations for safely shooting commercial film projects in South Africa, set forth by the Commercial Producers Association of South Africa, includes informed consent, and guidelines around pre-production remote offices, casting, technical recce, transportation, craft services, PPE, equipment, remote viewing / video village, hair and makeup, wardrobe, art department, studio and on-location shooting guidelines, common areas, toilets, and post-production.

Commercial Producers Association of South Africa Presents the New Rulebook Guidelines for Commercial Film Production in South Africa Based on Risk Adjusted Strategy

1. Introduction

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our country and the world, we understand the necessity to create a new working protocol.

We will work within the guidelines put forth by the Government and Health Authorities to ensure that there are safe working distances, screening protocols, and that proper hygiene measures are in place.

The aim of these protocols is to minimize exposure and thereby limit the spread of COVID-19 whilst maintaining a functional film industry.

This document is intended to supplement the government guidelines based on the risk-adjusted approach at the respective levels 5-1. The aim is for the control measures listed to be used as best practice to protect the safety of all those who work on film sets. Many of the measures herein are rooted in good film-set discipline, and should be readily adaptable.

2. Best Practices

  • Encourage a work-from-home strategy where possible for freelance and permanent Production and Administrative office-based staff. Any person(s) who can work remotely must be allowed to do so.

  • On entering the workplace, all personnel will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19

  • Social distancing measures will be implemented in the workplace

  • All employees and freelance independent contractors will use a face mask at all times (PPE will be provided to personnel who don't have their own.)

  • All work environments will have hand sanitizers and/or hand washing facilities with soap available

  • Individual film production business or workplaces will have a COVID-19 risk assessments and plans in place, and must conduct worker education on COVID-19 and protection measures

  • Identification and protection of vulnerable employees will be mandatory

  • Safe transport of employees/freelance independent contractors

  • Limit prevention of viral spread in the workplace. This will include cleaning of surfaces and hared equipment ensuring good ventilation.

  • Monitoring symptoms must be in place to (1) ensure compliance with safety protocols and (2) identify infections amongst employees

  • Maintain regular housekeeping practices in your immediate space, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, equipment, and other elements of the work environment

  • People over the age of 60 work from home

  • Any worker that is immune compromised or in a high-risk category must disclose this to the employer, be protected, and work from home

  • Depending on the different alert levels, curfew and legislated rules must be adhered to

  • Face-to-Face meetings to be avoided if possible

3. Practical implementation and putting government guidelines for the workplace into practice on commercial film sets


All departments will be encouraged to exercise and follow best practice methods and protocols at all times.

Traveling to place of work

A monitoring system will be implemented that prior to any travel to the workplace, the crew member will confirm via SMS to the allocated Health and Safety Officer that they are asymptomatic i.e. they are not experiencing any symptoms associated with COVID-19. It is advised that crew and production staff should be discouraged from using public transport under the current Level 4 restrictions. Ubers / private transport should be arranged where possible.

Health and well-being

A qualified Health and Safety Officer / Medic / Monitor will be allocated to every commercial film set workplace for the duration of the production. This person will be responsible for overseeing health checks and ensuring that all safety protocols are adhered to.

On arrival, all personnel, including crew, cast, client and agency will be screened by the Health and Safety team where they will be required to submit to:

  • Temperature test

  • Report if they have been in contact with anyone suspected of having COVID-19

  • Health questionnaire

Once personnel have been screened and cleared for work, they will be provided with a wrist band indicating that they may proceed to set.

Health declarations

A short health questionnaire and/or a written declaration should be obtained from all crew and contributors at the start of the productions stating that they:

  • Are not suffering from any coronavirus symptoms and have not had any symptoms within the previous 7 days

  • Have not (as far as they are aware) been in contact with anyone with coronavirus symptoms within the previous 14 days

  • Are not 'shielded' or have any underlying health condition which might make them particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus

  • Undertake to declare immediately any onset of symptoms or contact with anyone who has symptoms of the coronavirus

COVID-19 symptom protocol

  • Anyone exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will not be permitted onto set

  • Anyone developing symptoms whilst at work will be sent home and advised to seek further medical attention

  • Symptoms include, but are not limited to: dry cough, fever, muscle pain, and sore throat. All people on set will be informed to let key personnel know if they develop any symptoms of the illness. Appropriate decisions can then be made.

Social distancing / Limiting access to communal areas

  • Social distancing to be adhered to as per Government regulations

  • Each department and any personnel not required on set should remain at base camps or at a designated standby area - this should include any talent holding ares

  • Where possible, limit departments working within the physical constraint of another at one time e.g. Art department to complete dressing prior to Lighting department setting lights in confined spaces

Access to information

  • Information regarding the risk of spreading COVID-19 including the responsibilities and duties of everyone on set is to be made visible in common areas

  • No one is exempt from adhering to these protocols

Precautions to be implemented with immediate effect on all film sets

  • At least one Medic / appointed Health and Safety Officer must be present on every shoot and a designated consultation area is to be provided for health checks

  • Crew will suffer no fear of reprisals and be assured of confidentiality should they report to the Health and Safety Officer if any protocols are not being adhered to that might compromise them

  • Before every shoot a short health and safety briefing will be held

  • Masks will be required to be worn by all personnel on set, with the exception of actors during filming

  • Masks will conform to the National Department of Health guidelines

4. Informed consent

  • Each person will be on set under the premise of 'informed consent.' They will be required at booking stage, and at any time thereafter but before the film shoot, to inform their agent / production of any risk or exposure to COVID-19

5. Office based prep / pre-production

  • Where possible, all production meetings including pre-production meetings including pre-production meetings to be held remotely using video conferencing

  • Working from home is to be encouraged for initial prep

  • Offices to be laid out allowing for production teams to adhere to social distancing protocols

  • Production teams will be required to complete health questionnaires upon confirmation and throughout prep will need to undergo regular health screenings

  • Finalize as many creative decisions as possible no later than the pre-production meeting in order to reduce last-minute changes on shoot days and plan for all sanitary accommodations

6. Casting

  • Where possible, talent will do remote castings using 'self taping' or cast via video conferencing facility. Video conferencing applications have an option to record

  • Where casting takes place at a casting studio, all social distancing and hand sanitizing protocols will be adhered to

  • Anyone who belongs to a high-risk health group should not put themselves forward for castings until the COVID-19 pandemic is better managed. e.g. people over 70 and those with pre-existing medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.

  • Cast would be expected to fill in a health questionnaire

  • Talent can be pre-selected to ensure controlled attendance at the casting, showing talent is most accurate to casting specs, director's vision, and budget

  • Casting studio layouts to be adjusted to allow that social distancing protocols are adhered to at the registration desk and that seating is 2 metres apart

  • Overflow systems to be set up outside respective studios to delineate the correct distancing

  • Casting directors and staff at casting studios to wear masks at all times when engaging with talent and each other. Talent will be required to wear masks to castings and keep them on until the audition

  • Phones, all door and desk handles, and surfaces will be sanitized between each artist

  • Hand sanitizers will be provided at the entrance to studios, and in casting studios. Talent will be advised to use these upon arrival and departure.

  • Use of paper forms and sharing of pens will be limited and managed. Where possible, electronic versions to be used

7. Technical recce

  • Crew to drive themselves where possible

  • Number of crew on technical recces to be limited

  • Crew to be accompanied by location owner, agent or ECO

  • If there are areas that are off limits, this should be made clear before entering the location

8. Transport of crew to set

  • It is advised that crew and production staff should be discouraged from using public transport under the current Level 4 restrictions. Ubers / private transport should be arranged where possible

  • Where crew are required to share transport, this will be done in line with Government rules and regulations including wearing face masks and using hand sanitizers

9. Catering and craft

  • All catering and craft personnel to wear appropriate PPE at all times when preparing or handling food

  • All people handling food for provision of others are to wash their hands before doing so

  • Mealtimes will be staggered

  • There shall be no mealtime buffets until deemed safe to resume

  • Meals shall be served in eco-friendly enclosed packaging and production will ensure that recycling is managed

  • Craft to provide single serve pre-packaged snacks

  • Food will not be walked around on set and offered up on trays

  • Single use pre-packaged tea and coffee to be supplied and personnel to prepare on their own

  • Should a sit-down eating area be provided the social distancing protocols shall be adhered to

  • All eating utensils, plates, bowls, and containers of any kind should be pre-packaged, disposable and eco-friendly

  • Refilling of reusable water bottles shall be done with no person-to-person contact

10. Equipment

  • Hiring companies and crew hiring gear are to ensure equipment handling and sanitization protocols are in place

  • Gear checks to be handled in a separate space to avoid cross contamination

  • Crew to ensure that they sanitize hands before handling any gear

  • All equipment arriving on a film set must be sanitized

  • HODs to supervise handling of equipment and ensure that gloves / masks and hand sanitizer are made available

  • Equipment to be handled by designated department members responsible for that equipment - all touch points to be sanitized between users. In practice, this means that PPAs should not assist in carrying any equipment unless allocated directly to that department

11. Remote viewing and video village

  • Remote video viewing to be encouraged

  • Video village to be set up at a standby area and not on set if possible

  • Social distancing rules apply

  • To limit contact between client, agency and crew, a single 'go-between' should be appointed to convey information

12. Makeup and hair

  • Health and Safety education is advised with specific attention to microbe transmission

  • Separate makeup and hair areas to be allocated and each separate workstation should adhere to correct social distancing protocols

  • Appropriate PPE will be worn by makeup and hair artists

  • Hand sanitizing will be done before and after each makeup application

  • Any brushes are to be sanitized between use or disposable applicator packs to be considered

  • All workstation surfaces are to be cleaned between use

  • On set makeup and hair application will be reserved for featured cast only

  • Consider talent arriving having done their own makeup and hair, including male talent shaving at home as an option. This should be done in consultation with a makeup artist

  • Crowd talent to apply their own makeup at home

  • All brushes and combs are to be sanitized with appropriate disinfectants between users - talent are encouraged to bring their own

  • Mix foundation, powders, lipstick, etc. on a separate, clean palette for each individual

  • Talent may consider using a face shield rather than a mask once makeup has been applied

  • Only remove the talent's PPE when essential

13. Wardrobe

Wardrobe Fittings

  • Limit number of people present at fittings

  • Costume hire facilities to outline and implement wardrobe hire and sanitization protocols

  • Allow adequate prep time and approval time to take cleaning and sanitization protocols into consideration, i.e. washing / steaming of clothes prior to and after fittings

  • Stylist to wear appropriate PPE and wash hands between fitting talent

  • Fitting of talent to be handled individually or with respect to social distancing

  • Wardrobe and accessories to be sanitized appropriately prior to placing on talent

  • No wardrobe is to be tried on by more than one person

  • Approvals to take lace by use of stills or video conferencing where possible

Wardrobe on set and dressing of talent

  • Physical contact between talent and wardrobe crew while often necessary, should be minimized when possible

  • Appropriate PPE will be worn by the stylist and assistants

  • The wardrobe stylist is to assist one cast member at a time and wash hands or disinfect between each artist

  • Costumes should be provided individually i.e. hung in its own cover. The talent's clothes should be hung in the same plastic cover to avoid any possible cross contamination with other clothes

14. Art department

  • Prop hire facilities and art crew who hire props to outline and implement prop hire and sanitization protocols

  • All art crew to wear appropriate PPE in pre-production and on-set as required

  • HODs to supervise the dressing and wrap of locations, handling of props, and ensure that gloves / masks and hand sanitizer are made available

  • Minimize the number of crew in art teams

  • Art department briefing and pre-production meeting should be done remotely where possible

  • Sterilizing and cleaning of purchases to be worked into schedules

  • Trucks need to be sterilized. Vehicle hire companies and teams will be educated on how to do this properly

  • Stagger dressing and wrap

15. Studio shoots

  • Studios to provide safety and sanitization protocols

  • Studios to be sterilized before crew enter

  • Departmental holding areas to be designated and clearly marked

16. Locations

  • Allow sufficient time for permitting and concurrence if needed

  • Wherever possible, one-way access routes in and out of locations should be arranged to limit crew crossing

  • Cleaning team to sanitize locations pre and post shoot

  • Holding areas to be designated and clearly marked

17. Holding and common areas

  • Where possible, these should be situated outside

  • Any seating provided will maintain social distancing protocols

  • Interaction between departments will be minimized; this includes mealtimes

  • No non-essential visitors allowed on set or in holding areas

18. Toilets

  • Toilets will be serviced under strict hygienic conditions and kept sanitized at all times

19. Post production

  • Post production facilities to outline hygiene and safety protocols

  • Number of people in any post production space is limited to the gazetted rules

  • Post production to be handled remotely where possible

  • Where remote work is not possible, social distancing protocols apply

20. Individual responsibility

  • Each person on set has an individual responsibility and duty to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 1. Wash your hands frequently or sanitize your hands with an alcohol-based rub 2. Keep your distance and ask others to be considerate 3. Cough or sneeze into your sleeve, not your hands 4. Limit physical contact - avoid handshakes, refuse kisses on the cheek, and avoid hugging 5. Be diligent with cleaning - both at home and in the workplace

  • Every film shoot is different - therefore when it comes to creative considerations and what is permitted in front of camera, we all need to apply common sense and be aware of what we think can execute responsibly on a case-by-case basis