COVID-19 Precautions in Place as Entertainment Productions Resume
August 28, 2020
In a recent blog, we talked about how professional sports were doing with a return to play in light of COVID-19. While the lack of professional sports has been a huge topic of conversation, other entertainment-related industries have also been eagerly awaiting a resumption of normal activities. Canada’s movie and television industry employs thousands of people, and as the industry gets ready to ramp up production of movies and television shows, it’s important to look at how they plan to do so safely.
As a firm advising key players in the entertainment industry on talent contracts, immigration matters and tax issues, we know many clients are wondering about the safety of their talent as productions begin to resume. Below, we will provide an overview of the types of precautions being taken throughout the industry.
Production is Permitted Once Again
On June 24, 2020, film and television production was permitted to resume across Ontario (with some exceptions related to COVID-19 hot spots). In preparation for this, the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development issued safety guidelines for the film and television industry.
The plan is extensive and outlines recommended tips for everything from the purchasing of COVID-19-related safety equipment to the construction of sets and performances. With the number of moving parts involved in TV and film production, it can be difficult to know exactly what is required of everyone. The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Arts (ACRTRA) has provided a list of highlights on their website making it easier to digest the protocols.
Playing it Safe with COVID-19 Symptoms
People in all roles relating to production are asked to self-screen before arriving at work, and to stay home if they may have contracted COVID-19. The government has issued a number of questions for self-screening, but employees should also expect there to be some physical screening in place, including temperature checks, when arriving to work.
Auditions and Rehearsals
Remote auditions are still highly encouraged, even though in-person auditions are legally allowed. ACTRA recommends that in-person auditions should only be attended if absolutely required, but that open auditions should be avoided. In the meantime, in-person auditions that do take place should ensure proper physical distancing at all times. This means avoiding crowded waiting rooms, close and crowded lines and other large gatherings in limited spaces.
Rehearsals, including table reads, should be done remotely whenever possible, but if in-person rehearsals are needed, physical distancing should be respected.
Once production begins in earnest, the guidelines recommend that cast and crew be divided into pods. Any performers not involved in an on-camera scene together are recommended to maintain a physical distance of at least two meters. In addition, it is recommended that private dressing rooms be made available to avoid having performers share a small space.
For stunts, the guidelines recommended additional cleaning and disinfection of equipment, and for performers, stunt coordinators and other crew members to physically distance as much as possible.
Children involved in productions introduce a number of additional considerations. The guidelines ask that extra care be provided to children and that interaction between child performers and others should be limited, including tutoring, which is recommended to take place remotely, rather than in an on-set classroom, which is often a small trailer with limited space.
Craft Services, Hair and Makeup
The guidelines also cover the provision of food to casts and crews, as well as hair and makeup services. It is recommended that physical distancing be maintained when entering craft service areas, and that food is individually packaged whenever possible. In addition, people should bring food and water from home if possible.
Meanwhile, in the hair & makeup and wardrobe departments, which often require close contact between crew and performers, the number of people accessing those services should be limited to maintain physical distancing standards. Food and drink are not to be permitted in these areas to encourage the wearing of masks at all times. Like food, single-serve makeup tools are recommended to limit the chance of spreading COVID-19 through sharing.
Of course, everyone in each role will have questions about how they specifically will be impacted by these recommendations. Agents are likely spending a great deal of time addressing concerns from performers and other crew as productions resume. A list of FAQs for performers is available through ACRTA. For contract review and advice, our experienced lawyers can help.
Contact the experienced team at Feigenbaum Law for more information about the services routinely provided to those in the sports and entertainment industry. We offer services to clients in the US, Canada and around the world. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at (905) 695-1269 or toll-free at (877) 275-4792 to learn more about how we can help.