Film production during COVID-19 guidelines
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Following the government’s clarification on the imposed lockdown, the TV and Film Production industries are strongly encouraged to return to the operational status.

“With the exception of organisations covered above [this refers to pubs, restaurants, etc] in the section of closing certain businesses and venues, the government has not required any other business to close – indeed it is important for business to carry on.”

But with so much press surrounding the reopening of the industry, many are still questioning just how productions will look in a post-pandemic landscape. With this in mind, the Advertising Producer Association (APA) has published guidelines that enable production companies to take reasonable and practical steps to safeguard the health and safety of everyone attending a professional shoot: APA Covid-19 Shooting Guidelines v1.4

The concern over the inevitable delay of TV releases voiced in the industry insider report was also echoed by the APA. According to the guidance, both pre-production and production “are likely to take longer to enable compliance.”

The guidance further stresses: “The number of people on location should be kept to a minimum. Anyone -production staff, cast, crew, agency, and client – who is not absolutely necessary to have at the location to make the film should not attend. Furthermore, every person who will be attending the location – because it is necessary that they do so – shall sign the COVID-19 Health Declaration Form.”

Coronavirus-proof pre-production

Everyone from scriptwriters to post-production editors should take new order of things into consideration, both in terms of messaging tone and the mechanics of their production:

Pre-Production filming guide COVID-19
Pre-Production filming guide during COVID-19

Film production budgeting and contract

As one might imagine, thorough consideration should be given to the budget and contractual clauses. COVID-19 related disruptions can come in many different forms – from the director or cast being off sick with Coronavirus to the additional expense due to insurance not covering COVID-19 delays.

Film production budgeting guidelines during COVID-19
Film production budgeting guidelines during COVID-19

Castings during COVID-19 guidelines

As we’ve already discovered the joys of Zoom conferencing app, the APA recommends sticking to online castings and following the red tape.

Casting guidelines COVID-19
Casting guidelines during COVID-19


Onset filming guidelines during COVID-19

As with any other part of film production, onset rules must be also adhered to. Among the guidelines is staggering call times, minimisation of onset crew, and increased attention to hygiene procedures.


Onset film production guidelines during COVID-19
Onset film production guidelines during COVID-19


Guided by Government’s Bet Practice, the guide further suggests other possible things to consider:

  • use members of the same household
  • shoot individuals as separate plates and composite in the post-production
  • use screens or barriers to separate talent from each other
  • shoot back-to-back or side-by-side
  • keep the activity time involved as short as possible
  • using fixed teams or partnering

Location shooting during COVID-19

Seemingly the most challenging part – location shooting – significantly contributes to the projected delays in scripted releases. Location supervisors are facing many challenges and must take many things into consideration. Things like councils’ granted filming permits, the necessity of fast 4G connection on location, room ventilation, and more red tape are all on the radar for the location scouts.

Location filming during COVID-19

Location filming during COVID-19
Location filming guidelines during COVID-19

Wardrobe and Make-Up department guidelines during COVID-19

When it comes to the wardrobe and make-up department, close human contact seems to be unavoidable. So, the measures have to be taken to minimise the contact whenever possible. Alternatively, an appropriate PPE should be used.

Catering and Transport guidelines during COVID-19

Not so great news for location catering companies specialising in film production. The most costly and most hassle-free option for feeding your team will have to be reconsidered or, even, reinvented, as a result of the global pandemics. Instead, individual hot box deliveries will be preferable for the foreseeable future.

As to the transport guidelines, it is recommended we all forget about the CO2 for a moment. Cast and crew are recommended to drive to set – one person per car. Alternatively, transport companies can be used where it can be demonstrated that the social distancing measures were put in place.

Catering on film set during COVID-19
Catering on the film set during COVID-19

The guidance issued by the APA echoes the points in The Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union’s (BECTU) ‘Film and TV Recovery Plan‘ – issued for all film professionals and updated regularly. Bectu is a creative industry union representing over 40,000 staff, contract, and freelance workers in the media and entertainment industries.

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Editor in Chief | Website | + posts

Editor in Chief of Ikon London Magazine, journalist, film producer and founder of The DAFTA Film Awards (The DAFTAs).