Eight weeks ago, the production business like many other industries came to a sudden standstill. Now that the Prime Minister has announced that those who can continue to work from home should continue to do so. Those of us who can’t, are left wondering how best to proceed. Here at First Option Studio, we acknowledge that whilst it’s important to get our industry moving again, the safety and security of our clients and colleagues must be our priority.
In recent weeks, leaked documents from Bectu gave us a glimpse of what a shoot might look like for the remainder of 2020. Other European countries have been working with smaller isolated teams, reduced crews and a ban on crowd scenes. Now APA and Bectu have brought out rigorous sets of guidelines that are going to take some getting used to and will take a lot of planning.
In light of this, I spoke to equipment company Get Set Hire, who have been quick to act and are now offering a comprehensive range of PPE to their clients.
‘We have some productions already underway with more starting this week and next,’ says Bryony. ‘Productions are using a variety of measures and equipment…‘PPE’ such as face masks and hand sanitiser stations, through to social distancing kit such as barriers, dividers and signposts.’They are, however, conscious that all this single use equipment, will over time, start to pose an ecological issue and the team are already looking at ways to reduce the environmental impact.
(Director of Photography Dan Bronks road tests his PPE )
I spoke to Director of Photography Dan Bronks, who is keen to return to work but stresses that, ‘we have to protect each other and we need a high level of personal responsibility,’ and whilst hand washing, masks and social distancing may be possible for members of the crew, we must also protect onscreen talent by ‘tailoring scripts and direction to accommodate social distancing or casting families.’ Dan says that he looks forward to returning to work, but hopes that all involved will, ‘respect these new protocols’, and that in order to allow everyone to get on with their jobs, it may be ‘necessary to ‘employ specific people to manage and monitor these new working practices’.
Lobster Creative shot with us a few weeks ago and producer Sarah pointed out that as well as restrictions on set, we should also expect further prep and planning in pre-production. ‘We followed guidelines from the APA for this shoot,’ said Sarah, ‘everyone on set completed a Covid-19 questionnaire about their current health and the health of people they have been socialising with.’ in advance, ‘we ensured everyone traveled to set safely and avoided public transport, which involved driving, taxi’s or cycling and walking to set where possible.’
As well as rules on social distancing, Bectu’s report also drew our attention to the new restrictions on choosing a location (see above). Interior locations and studios must offer ‘exclusive access’ and be able to be fully cleaned after use. At First Option Studio, we consider ourselves extremely fortunate that we will be able to offer exclusive access to a space that is not open to the general public. We wish you a safe few weeks as we all proceed with caution and we look forward to seeing your (probably masked) faces in our studio sometime soon.