United Kingdom Resuming Film and TV Production Soon

The spread of coronavirus has been reduced around the world, so the United Kingdom is taking steps to resume film and TV production soon. The British Film Commission, along with the British Film Institute, has revealed the guidelines that will allow entertainment production to resume safely and cautiously in order to avoid a second wave of coronavirus infections. 

Variety called our attention to the 44-page document titled “Working Safely During COVID-19 in Film and High-End TV Drama Production,” which you can read it its entirety right here. The document is the result of weeks of consultations with industry and health professionals, and the purpose of it is laid out right at the beginning, along with the expertise that went into crafting it:

This document is intended to provide high-level guidance to manage COVID-19 specific risk in producing film and high-end TV drama in the UK.

It is to help employers, employees and the self-employed in film and high-end TV drama production in the UK understand how to work safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, establishing safe systems of working, implementing robust personal and environmental hygiene measures and keeping as many people as possible 2 metres apart from those they do not live with. We hope it gives you freedom within a practical framework to think about what you need to do to continue, or restart, operations during the COVID-19pandemic. We understand how important it is to work safely and support the health and well-being of cast and crew during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This document has been prepared in consultation with the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport (DCMS)with input from crew and crew representatives, industry bodies, unions and the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and in consultation with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Some of the guidelines include having every single cast and crew member partake in COVID-19 Safer Working induction training online before a production starts, giving daily symptom checks to everyone working on set, and having a designated COVID-19 Health and Safety supervisor on-hand to help follow guidelines and keep everyone as safe as possible.

In some cases, following all of these guidelines may not be possible. The document itself acknowledges that there are productions where social distancing may be impractical, especially if it requires an intimate romantic scene between cast members or perhaps crew members that need to be in close quarters due to space restrictions on set. In these cases, it’s recommended that there be fixed teams for specific periods of production in order to reduce the risk of transmission to the larger crew.

However, it should be noted that nothing in this document is mandatory, and it won’t be enforced by law. Furthermore, the document adds, “Each production will need to translate this into the specific actions it needs to take, depending on the nature of their production, including the size and type of production, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated.” That means a larger production may need to take more precautions than a smaller one, and all productions should take into consideration their own unique requirements and any potential risks when referring to these guidelines.

Adrian Wootton OBE, Chief Executive of the British Film Commission, said, “We believe this to be the most comprehensive, extensively consulted-on COVID-19 recovery production guidance in the world.”

The UK’s Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden added, “We’ve worked hard to support the industry through these difficult times, and I’m delighted we’ve been able to agree this step forward towards getting the cameras rolling safely again.”

In addition, the UK Screen Alliance also released COVID-19 guidelines for visual effects and post-production work, but it’s a bit redundant since those practices are already in use at the post-production facilities that have remained up and running thanks employees being able to work remotely.

This is likely similar to how the United States will resume film production, but as we know, Steven Soderbergh is heading up a committee at the Director’s Guild of America to help determine how and when movies and TV shows will be able to get back to work. Details on that are expected sometime soon, so stay tuned.

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