new production protocols

Today marks the first day that film and television production in Hollywood can officially begin since the coronavirus forced the entertainment industry to press pause back in March. In conjunction with that reopening, several of the industry’s biggest guilds and unions have teamed up to release a document laying out new production protocols to keep casts and crews safe. Sets are going to feel very different than they did before all this. Here are a few of the biggest changes.

The Directors Guild of America (DGA), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and the Basic Crafts, and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) have spent the past few weeks speaking with “an array of experts ranging from preeminent epidemiologists and scientists to risk analysts and specialists in public health and occupational health and safety” in order to determine the safest way for casts and crew to get back to work. Here are the big takeaways from the announcement.

The protocols note that actors are at the biggest risk, given that they’re not able to social distance or wear protective equipment while they’re on camera. Actors and the people who come in close contact with them will be required to be tested for COVID-19 at least three times per week, while everyone else will be tested regularly during the course of production. Everyone, regardless of position, will be tested before their first day of work, and people who work in areas like the production office, where social distancing and PPE can be worn, can be tested less frequently than those who are actually on the set.

In contrast to the free-flowing way film sets used to be run, a “Zone” system will be established to keep people separated. “Cast and those with whom they come into frequent contact would be grouped in Zone A, while other individuals on set would be grouped in Zone B,” the statement says. “The Zone system is the structure and foundation around which all on-set Covid-19 safety decisions should be engineered.”

Two new positions/departments will be established on every set, and these departments will have the authority to pause the production in the event of a health breach which threatens the safety of the cast and crew. A Healthy Safety Department will be set up with a Healthy Safety Supervisor “in charge of the testing process, hire and coordinate the necessary Covid-19 medical staff, and be responsible for related health safety for the production,” while a Health Safety Unit Manager will oversee the execution of the Supervisor’s directives.

All this comes one day after Orange County, which borders Los Angeles County, said people no longer need to wear masks during the coronavirus pandemic, while California reported 3,461 cases of the virus – a single-day record for the state.

If you want to get into the nitty gritty of all of the protocols, you can read the entire document, entitled “The Safe Way Forward,” right here.

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