How To Safely Film During A Pandemic

Filming during a pandemic
Filming during a pandemic

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Are you prepared for filming during a pandemic? If not, don’t worry, we have plenty of advice to help you keep safe.

As you know, the film industry has gone through some changes this year. Due to Covid-19 filmmakers will now have to adapt to new social distancing rules. This is particularly hard on a film set where large groups of people work closely together for long periods of time.

Below you will find a breakdown of current industry rules, as well as advice on social distancing on a filmset.

COVID19 Film Industry Changes

social distancing on a filmset

You need to take filming during a pandemic seriously. If you don’t implement social distancing on a filmset you will be breaking the law

It’s essential that you reduce the chances of a Covid-19 outbreak. After all, if one member of your crew gets sick, it’s likely that their whole department will too. In particular, you need to protect actors as they are unreplaceable. You might be able to hire more crew, but a sick actor will halt your production.

The British film industry shut down in late March as the country approached lockdown. There are still regional lockdowns, and these rules will continue to evolve. Because of this, it is wise to assume that social distancing is taking place on any upcoming productions.

The global film industry has suffered as a result of the pandemic. However, work has now started to come back, albeit with new rules in place.

The latest advice, specifically for UK filmmakers, can be found on the BFI website. In addition, ScreenSkills has a free online Covid-19 awareness course.

What Are The Rules

Covid19 rules for filming

Although regional rules are in flux, the rules for filming during a pandemic are the same regardless of location. The aim is to reduce the risk of cross-contamination and the spread of the virus. This is done by following the tips for filming listed below. The British Film Commission provides detailed guidance.  

Yes, you can continue to make films, but you must do this whilst social distancing on a filmset. This might seem intimidating at first, but you will adapt. After all, it is likely that these rules will continue for some time to come. It’s best to overprepare than to have your set closed down, or receive a hefty fine for breaking the rules.

Furthermore, filmmakers have even made films during the lockdown. For example, the upcoming murder-mystery feature film Next To You (Director Stevan Filipovic). Which, embraced the limitations of lockdown by using webcams, mobile phones and surveillance cameras to tell the story. So, even though the film industry is undergoing difficult times, it is still possible to continue making films

Safety Tips For Filming During A Pandemic

filming safety tips coronavirus

You must do all you can to keep people safe if you are planning an upcoming production. This detailed article from The Guardian looks at how major British films have made changes this year. The following advice on filming during a pandemic applies to any production type.

  • Health & Safety Consultant – Like many workplaces in the UK, film sets have been hiring health and safety consultants to oversee social distancing. On low-budget film sets, you can allocate a member of the crew to be in charge of Covid-19 safety.
  • Routine Testing – You can carry out temperature tests every morning with a digital thermometer. This is likely the easiest way to keep track of an upcoming illness. If you have the budget, you can hire an onset medic to help with testing and monitoring staff.
  • Wearing Masks – All crew should be wearing masks at all times. Whilst crew such as makeup artists who work close to cast should wear both masks and visors. Once again, you need to be particularly careful to keep cast safe, as they won’t be able to wear masks during filming.
  • Avoid Cross-Contamination – This includes props, costumes and equipment. Only the people using an item should be holding it. For example, making sure actors are the only people touching certain props.
  • Social Distancing – It can be challenging to implement social distancing on a film set, but it’s possible with persistence. Try to keep catering outside, block off seating areas, consider building screens and marking floors with tape. Try to keep departments separate from one another.
  • Cleanliness – Throughout production, make sure work areas are extra clean. In addition, clean bathrooms, door handle and tables throughout the day. If you have the budget, you can hire cleaners to make this easier. Furthermore, encourage hand washing regularly and make sure that there is access to hand sanitiser.

Wrapping Up – Filming During A Pandemic

Learning how to film during a pandemic is important for film set safety and working together. It won’t be easy to carry out the new social distancing rules. Nevertheless, we must do everything we can to keep people safe. These changes might also be around for many years to come, so we will need to learn to adapt.

Have you worked on a filmset during the pandemic? What type of social distancing measures took place?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Amy Clarke
Amy Clarke
Amy is a content writer at the Video Collective. She is a former script supervisor and writes about careers in the film industry. Follow her on Facebook.
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