Welcome To The Era of Covid Secure Production

Following the latest guidance from the advertising producers association (APA), we can finally resume video production after 8 weeks of agonising lockdown.

Many of the companies we have spoken with have chosen to delay production rather than look to alternative formats such as animation.

If this is you, we hear you… we’re excited this day has come.

The government have stated throughout the pandemic that it is important businesses continue where possible. That said, in many cases it is simply not possible to conduct video productions from home. Heineken’s Connections ad being a notable exception.

Going forward productions need to be Covid Secure

So, what does a Covid Secure production look like? As we set out to resume video production, i’ve gone through the APA guidance to explain how we will be adopting their advice to create environments where clients, crew and talent can all feel happy, confident and safe.

First things first though…

…to enable compliance with these guidelines, clients and agencies will have to accept that productions are going to take longer than they usually might.

Staggered start times, social distancing and regular hand-washing will all play a part and for once, it’s not only the talent that will have to factor time to get into costume; crew members who need to get close to each other to fulfil their duties will need to factor in time to get into the necessary PPE. 

'to enable compliance with these guidelines, clients and agencies will have to accept that productions are going to take longer'.


Key Principles

In case there was any doubt, film shoots are bound by the same key principles governing everyday life in the UK regarding how we manage the transmission of Coronavirus, i.e maintaining social distancing, washing hands for at least 20 seconds and working from home whenever possible.

I began this blog by mentioning that working from home on film productions isn’t always possible.

Whilst this is true of the actual production itself, it is far more realistic during the development and pre-production stages of the project.

We will be conducting as many meetings as possible virtually and as far as casting goes, initial selections will be based on reels and camera reads before getting into virtual casting sessions.

Whilst this has the perk of being like an initial screen test, at some point a physical audition is inevitable and just like the production itself health and safety guidelines will need to be properly observed in order to mange this stage of the project properly.

When accommodating the over 70s, we will take enhanced precautionary measures and and no actors will be confirmed until they have completed the necessary Health Declaration Form.

Making the location/set Covid Secure

Almost all live action productions are prefaced with a site recce. This will take on an extra dimension now as either Producers or a dedicated Health & Safety officer (not mandatory), will be scoping the location for practical ways to ensure compliance with the Covid Secure guidelines.

As video productions  start to return, there will inevitably be a conflict at some point between creative ambition and the restrictions of observing a Covid Secure shoot. With this in mind, we feel it is going to be important to factor the APA guidance into the creative from the outset.

I think it’s fair to say, for the foreseeable future romantic or intimate scenes will represent a challenge to be overcome.


Managing the Production

The guidance for production varies between those taking place on set and those which take place on location however there are some universal instructions:

We will be instructing our crews to arrive to the locations according to a staggered schedule as dictated by our producers.

It has always been best practice to keep crews lean anyway but now more so than ever. As we look to resume video production, only those who are essential to the production wil be granted consent to be on the shoot and all that do attend will be expected to complete an online Health Declaration form.

As much as is possible, production departments will need to be broken down into smaller groups and discouraged from intermingling – this includes and is especially true for times like lunch etc.

We’ve long championed paperless productions and we’ve come a long way in this regard but by insisting on this going forward we will reduce the risk of transmission through paper based documents.

Where it is realistic, space markers should be put in place but this is not mandatory and may not always be feasible. The sharing of devices will be discouraged for example walkie talkies should be bagged and labelled with the users name and not shared amongst the crew.

The APA have kindly produced a number of posters which can be placed around the set/location to help remind individuals of their obligations to health and safety of the production.

resume video production

Some notes about location filming

Perhaps unsurprisingly, councils are unlikely to be issuing location permits at the moment. Whilst we would expect this to ease up, it is dependent on the suppression of the virus and may not happen for a while.

It is also recommended that productions don’t take place at a location so far away that overnight stays are required. Thankfully due to our global and local supplier network, I don’t anticipate this being too much of an issue for element 26 however we will be ensuring all of our suppliers are also complying with the APA Covid Secure guidelines. 

The guidance suggests one location per day without unit moves and of course each location has to be cleaned in advance of the production. This means we will be partnering with a cleaning company for the foreseeable future to ensure locations meet the Covid Secure criteria.

Hair, Make Up and Wardrobe

In regards to these departments, it’s vital that protective equipment be worn. Kit shouldn’t be shared between artists and it’s important that necessary disinfection protocols are observed. During the current crisis, we would certainly encourage use of disposable kit wherever possible.

In terms of protective kit, this is our responsibility as the production company to provide and is broken down into two tiers

Tier 1 – Masks and gloves

Tier 2 – Enhanced PPE including visors and all body suits.

Tier One PPE is intended for single use purposes however Tier Two PPE is mandatory for those who need to break the two metre distancing rules for any great length of time

Resume Video Production

To download the latest APA guidance on managing productions in the time of Covid then click here.

If you want to discuss how you can be constructing your content so that it’s inline with the APA guidelines then click this link here, we’d love to talk to you.

About the Author

Nathan Haines

Nathan is the managing director of Element 26 and an expert in video production and video marketing. Nathan enjoys supporting companies to grow their businesses using video. Get in touch on Twitter @element26uk