Film and TV drama production set to resume with strict guidelines

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Film and TV drama production is to resume after the government and industry gave the green light to  guidance that sets out how social distancing can be maintained on and off set – and what happens when close contact is unavoidable.

The guidance, produced by the British Film Commission, builds on the government’s Covid Secure guidance for workplaces and explains how Covid-19 safety measures can be applied to various areas of film production, from hair and make up to bringing international cast and crew to the UK.

British Film Commission chief executive Adrian Wootton said: “The industry is extremely keen to restart production as soon as possible, but not without a comprehensive road map for how to do it safely while the threat of Covid-19 still looms large.

“This is a vital step to getting our world class film and high-end TV sector back up and running, giving the world confidence we have the most rigorous safety measures in place, and signaling that our sector is ready to return to full strength, and to making its important contribution to the UK Exchequer.”

British Film Institute chief executive Ben Roberts said: “Our film and TV industry has been growing faster than other any other sector, generating over £7.9 billion a year in GVA to the UK economy and employing 166,200 people – so creating scaleable guidance to help restart film and high-end TV production as safely and as quickly as possible has been paramount.”

Before production begins or restarts, all staff should undergo Covid-19 training and designated “supervisors” should be appointed to monitor compliance with social distancing and other health and safety measures. Pre-shoot briefings and daily reminders are also encouraged.

All staff should undergo daily symptom checks and a symptom response plan should be established, detailing what happens if a member of the cast or crew experiences coronavirus symptoms.

Social distancing should be maintained, but where this is unavoidable for creative or practical reasons – such as hair and make up – the time individuals spend in close proximity and the number of people involved should be limited. Face coverings and physical screens should be considered and the area should be kept well ventilated.

If a cast member needs help putting on their costume, face-to-face contact should be avoided. Costumes should be laundered after each use.

When shooting, the access to the area should be limited to the cast, shooting crew and designated staff from other departments. Cast members should not perform face-to-face, but testing should take place where this is necessary.

Craft or technical trailers should be sectioned off with plastic screens and equipment sharing should be minimised. Frequent cleaning and handwashing should be encouraged.

Staff should bring their own food, but where catering is provided food should not be left unwrapped and single-use cutlery should be used.

The guidance reminds TV and film production companies that they should still adhere to government guidance around the safe return to work.

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden said: “The UK is recognised around the globe as a brilliant place to make films, and is home to the world’s best film and high-end TV talent. 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.”

Popular television programmes including EastEnders, Top Gear and Coronation Street are expected to resume filming over the coming weeks.

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