Setting up and maintaining a low-risk infection environment on a live action shoot

Last Updated on the 27th of April 2020

Overview

Background

In light of the corona crisis, the need to rethink the way the live-action film is produced, with low-to no risk of infection, is imminent. And even after the decrease or termination of government preventive measures, the risk of contagion - albeit to a lesser extent - will persist in the first weeks and months, if not longer.

This document is a rundown of all the precautions that M2Film will be taking to ensure as low a risk as possible of infection to anyone on set – crew, cast, or clients alike. Of course, there is no guarantee, but through this plan of action, any M2-set will be kept at its highest standard of cleanliness and safety.

Our film production guidelines are based on official recommendations, rules, and guidelines for work environments put forth by government agencies, health officials, SSI and the Danish police. Our approach also follows production guidelines developed by Producentforeningen, Film- og TV-arbejderforeningen, Dansk Journalistforbund, Dansk skuespillerforbund, Danske Filminstruktører, Den Vestdanske Filmpulje and FilmFyn. Furthermore, M2 has outlined additional initiatives which can be found below.

The plan includes the following:

  • Remote client participation
  • Project Launch
  • Online casting of talent.
  • Selecting the crew.
  • General guidelines
  • In practice on our film-set
  • Extended precaution guidelines
  • APPENDIX: Detailed official guidelines and M2 specific guidelines.

Denmark

The Danish government was one of the first in Europe to issue a national lockdown of schools and non-critical workplaces on March 16th.

The hospital admittance peaked on March 30th, and on April 14th, the government issued a phase one - a regulated reopening of Denmark, starting with schools, daycare, and workplaces.

Phase two is set to begin on May 10th

Through a comprehensive test-strategy, that was further increased on April 21st, health professionals have observed a significant decline in the number of COVID-19 positive cases and hospital admittances.

So far, the infection-strategy has been working well, compared to other countries. And ICU admittance was at roughly 15% capacity at the time of peak.

Current situation

March
April
  • --- Total number of hospitalised
  • --- In intensive care
  • --- In respirator

Remote Participation

A way of being present on live-action shoots from afar, through a series of digital solutions.
The client

The Client

The client can easily login to a secure live feed, either through zoom or similar software. Directly from the office or from home.

Live feed

Live feed

The live-feed will enable the client to follow the entire production process. This feed consists of various footage from the main camera, the editor, and an on-set cameraman acting as the clients' eyes.

The Producer & Director

The Producer & Director

Each equipped with an in-ear headset, the producer and director are in direct contact with the client while still being able to move around on set.

On set / Off set

Project Launch

A new beginning

To ensure the safest possible production-environment - we’ve introduced a new position onto our crew; The Infection Control Manager (ICM)

The ICM reports directly to the producer and must ensure that the production has sound routines and guidelines for the project in accordance with health authority guidelines.

As early as possible, preferably before or at startup, an infection risk analyses must be made by the ICM in colaboration with the producer and production manager. Resulting in an “Infection Control Plan”.

An Infection Control Plan must include the following:

Analysis of infection risk.

  • Risk assessment of close contact between actors. (Close contact is defined as interaction within official recommended proximity limit)
  • Risk assessment of close contact between crew.
  • Routines for hygiene measures such as hand washing, antibac-stations, cleaning of contact surfaces, team management etc.
  • Distribution of responsibilities.

The Infection Control Plan is essentially the foundation of the budget, production schedule and shooting plan.

A new beginning

Casting

Using mobile devices.

Online casting using mobile devices

Online casting is something that we've been doing at M2 for a long time.

In a very detailed brief, we ask people to record a presentation and a few scenes for us. We often join them on Skype or zoom, to get the best casting possible.

It's also possible for the client to join the director in the final stages of the casting process, allowing them to add their input or try different creative directions that might pop-up.

Unfortunately, we do have a few limitations in the casting process.

  • Casting within the “high risk group” should be avoided when possible.
  • If the project requires an entire family with physical contact, a real family will be recommended.
  • If the project requires close contact between the actors, it may be an idea to cast members from the same household.
  • Backup for cast should always be considered.
Online Casting

Selecting The Crew

Selecting the crew

The first step is to establish an overview of the crew members who have had COVID-19 and who, therefore, with relative certainty, cannot transmit the disease.

An antibody test will hopefully be available shortly. And at that time, a testing-strategy will be implemented.

Until then, we will pay close attention to any signs of infection and will do our utmost to limit the chain of infection as much as possible.

It is common in filmproduction, for different professions to simultaneously participate in multiple projects. Therefore, the risk factor of a film shoot is higher than that in closed operations.

To minimize that risk factor, we make it a priority to use our extensive team of in-house creatives and technicians when possible. Perhaps even grouping them into designated teams if necessary.

Selecting the crew

Working in a safe environment

General guidelines

Filmproduction during these challenging times requires discipline and efficiency. At M2, we will evaluate every upcoming project in regards to safety and creative requirements and opportunities.

Most projects can be carried out by simply complying with the directives on social distancing and proper hygiene, as provided by the Danish government and the Department of Health. However, other projects may require a more thorough approach based on our own extended M2-guidelines.

Each individual associated with the production is responsible for familiarizing with and following the production's routines and guidelines, as well as the guidelines from the health authorities at all times. The guidelines will also be availiable on set and during the morning brief.

(For more detailed guidelines, please refer to the appendix.)

Hygiene and information boards

To minimize the risk of spreading disease on location, everyone is required to follow all guidelines on hygiene and behavior set by the Danish authorities.

Hand sanitizers will be available in various locations, and information boards on proper hygiene will be available and visible on location.

Hand sanitation must be carried out in accordance with SSI Guidelines for Proper hand hygiene.

Social distancing

Unfortunately, hugs and handshakes are not allowed. Everyone is required to maintain a social distance of 2 meters at all times.

For interior shoots, the size of the location determines the number of people allowed on set. Each person requires a minimum of 4 m2 in unfurnished spaces and 6 m2 in furnished spaces.

Illnes, meeting-time and scheduling

Anyone exhibiting mild or severe symptoms of COVID-19 will not be permitted entry to set. M2 crew will be required to stay home for 48 hours after showing symptoms. If symptoms arise during the shoot - the person will be isolated and/or sent home.

Sore throat, Dry cough, muscle pain, and fever are considered to be symptoms of COVID-19.

Arrivals on location will be scheduled to ensure the least possible amount of people on location at the same time.

Whenever possible, the different departments will work on location at different times. e.g., prelight or camera-setup the day before the shoot or early morning on shoot day.

Cleaning and disinfection

Following SSI issued guidelines for cleaning and disinfection, our production is responsible for frequent cleaning and disinfection of any open surface at risk of contamination. Surfaces such as doorknobs and contact surfaces on toilet and sink.

Protective gear

Face masks and rubber gloves will be available on set. Anyone required to work within a 2-meter distance to the cast or others will be required to wear protective gear. As a rule of thumb one should prepare for 4 masks per crew-member per 12 hour shoot day.

Waste management

Disposable face masks, gloves, etc. must be treated as hazardous waste - the used ones are to be put into solid plastic bags and to be handled with protective gloves and then disposed of. Disposing of waste must be performed in accordance with SSI Guidelines for Waste Management.

In Practice On A M2 Film Set

Creative Restrictions

We hate to put restrictions on the creative process, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

The official rules, set by the Danish police, require a limit of up to 10 people gathered in a public space. Thus scenes with larger crowds where a social distance of 2 meters can't be upheld, cannot be produced safely and responsibly.

Smaller group scenes are permitted - for example, on. A street setting, a small garden-party etc.

Interior and exterior scenes with a larger number of people, where social distancing can be upheld are also permitted.

There are no official rules regarding kissing, sex scenes, and scenes that require one actor to touch another's face - but following the fact that this is allowed (even encouraged) socially - it is deemed responsible for doing.

Creative Restrictions

Meetings Prior And After The Shoot

  • We will minimize the number of physical meetings. Instead, prioritize communication via telephone or digital platforms. If a physical meeting is absolutely necessary, official guidelines on distance between persons must be followed.

Location

  • During filming - it will be essential to ensure a consistent and secure lock-up to prevent any unauthorized personnel from entering.
  • To minimize the amount of crew on set, only crew, cast, and clients essential to the current shot are allowed on set. If only the DoP and director are needed, everyone else leaves the set. Production will provide remote viewing capabilities for agency/client. Preferable outside.
  • When possible the location is divided into zones so that each crew only moves within their zones.
  • Everyone goes through washing and disinfecting before entering.

Ventilation

  • Whenever shooting in a studio or any interior location, ongoing ventilation is required between takes.

Equipment & teams

  • Lifting, carrying and packing props / furniture / equipment may involve more people and should be subject to infection control procedures. All equipment, ie. props, light, sound, and camera gear, must be sanitized before and after every shoot
  • If equipment comes into contact with several different persons. The department responsible for the equipment, must perform proper washing of this before, during and after recording.
  • The staff should be divided into different working teams, and to the greatest possible extent prevent their members from being in physical contact with each other, as well as avoid physical contact between the different working teams.
  • The division into working teams will likely be based on the different departments and each team will be given their own equipment and idle-zone.

Video Village

  • The video village will be set up at a distance from the set. (preferable outside) and the producer will act as a go-between from client to crew.

Communication on set

  • In order to more easily enforce measures such as zone allocation and distance between cast, crew and clients. increased use of walkie-talkie on the set is encouraged. This applies to staff of all sizes.

Minimize The Use Of Paper - Scripts & Schedules

  • Limit the use of physical paper that circulates between multiple people (script, contracts, plans, etc.), Instead use digital solutions for signing and joint document work.

Transportation

  • Production vehicles will be sanitized before and after every shoot.
  • In a standard car, no more than three persons must travel together with a maximum of two in the backseat.
  • Cast, crew, and client are encouraged to avoid public transportation to and from the location.

Catering, breaks and idle zones

  • Buffets are no longer permitted and all meals will be served as single-serving portions.
  • Waterbottles, soda and coffee must also be served in single-serving containers.
  • That also means the end of snack bowls, self-serviced coffee stations, fruit baskets, and chocolate that isn't individually packed.
  • It is important to ensure that everyone has enough space to follow rules of social distancing while eating (including refreshments during the day). Seating should also minimize interaction between departments during breaks.
  • There is no need to have more than one catering place if all meals, including main meals, are packaged separately.
  • Any person handling food should thoroughly wash their hands beforehand and wear gloves.
  • On the set, catering must follow the SSI Guidelines for Kitchen (and dining area)

Set limitations

Infection Control Manager

On most shoots, the Infection Control Manager is a dedicated person with the sole responsibility of controlling infection risk. But in cases where the format of the production make it appropriate, e.g. in productions with few staff members, the responsibilty can be apointed amongst the crew.

In collaboration with the producer and the production manager, the ICM prepares a specific infection control plan for each production. (Healthcare expertise is consulted if necessary).

The ICM must distribute the infection control plan to all involved in the production and clearly communicate what new requirements, routines and expectations the individual must meet.

The ICM must be available on set to ensure that the infection control plan is followed, by inspecting the location, work routines, worstations and catering areas.

The ICM is required to be available during the morning brief for questions.

At M2 we also have an Office ICM who is responsible for the production offices and post-work facilities.

I collaboration with the ICM, The production manager will usually be deeply involved in the risk analysis, and therefore possess knowledge that may be relevant to the contagion protection plan.

In addition, it is important that the department heads are included in the calculation of the necessary extra time that must be set aside for the control measures to be followed.

Actors

  • If possible, the actor should do his/her own makeup under the guidance of the makeup artist.
  • Close contact (interaction within the current proximity limit) with other actors is limited to what is necessary for the execution of the individual scene.
  • Any close contact must be clarified in advance and subject to a special risk assessment by the ICM.
  • Intimate scenes must always be subject to special risk assessment
  • The actors have scripts preferably on own tablets, to avoid paper printing.
  • When using a printed script, all actors must have their own copies and they should be kept inside the actor's dedicated zone.

Director

The director is one of the key functions in filmproduction, and is often in contact with all professional groups. And considering the importance of the director being present on set. It is extremely important to limit physical contact for directors on any set.

The director should:

  • Use digital solutions for communication whenever possible.
  • Use their own, brought headset.
  • Use wireless monitor and listening.
  • Store all equipment (walkie-talkie, receiver, headset, script, tablet, bag, pen, etc.) in a clearly labeled plastic box with a lid, which is not touched by anyone else. The equipment is operated and touched only by the director, including battery replacement.
  • Do not touch other equipment.
  • Wash hands properly when moving between zones / professional groups.
  • Direction of actors at a proper distance.
  • Communicate with photographer, production manager and other staff at proper distance.
  • Use walkie-talkie to communicate on set where appropriate.
  • For larger productions or productions where the producer / director is crucial, extended measures beyond the recording date should be considered

DOP

In this specialist group, people traditionally work closely together, and the ICM should, in collaboration with the head of department, look at how to adapt work routines to avoid close contact.

  • Use of wireless follow focus to ensure necessary distance between photographer and focus puller.
  • If the camera operator needs to be closer to the actor than the official guidelines at any given time, he/she must wear the necessary protective equipment.

Hair & Make-up

  • If possible hair and make-up should be reserved for the main cast only.
  • If possible, the actor should do his/her own makeup under the guidance of the makeup artist.
  • Hair- and make-up artist must wear face-masks when working with a cast-member. The cast will not be required to wear masks.
  • Applicators (e.g. mascara, concealer, eyeliner, lipstick) are not permitted to be reused on different cast.
  • The hair- and make-up work area must be cleaned between every session in accordance with SSI issued guidelines for cleaning and disinfection & proper hand hygiene

Wardrobe

  • If possible, styling should only be provided for the main cast
  • Actors should dress themselves according to instructions.
  • Private clothing is kept in a separate, sealed bag/box that is only handled by the actor.
  • Wardrobe provided by the stylist must be washed and sanitized according to SSI Guidelines for Handling of textiles.

The Set Designer / Scenographer

  • The scenographer is responsible for everything from construction work, to production design and dressing of the film set. This work usually involves a lot of different professional groups, and the production set designer /scenographer should consider how the work can be organized so that they have as little contact with the rest of the crew and the cast as possible.
  • After a set is dressed, defined contact surfaces must be cleaned before recording staff and actors arrive.

Props

  • Props and products in contact with the cast must be disinfected between each user. Or just handled by only one actor.
  • Reset is also done by the actor, under the guidance of the set designer, at a distance.

Sound Recording

  • If possible, only boom should be used. If this is not possible, actors are mounting the microport themselves.
  • Microport belts are personal, or washed between each user.

Above and beyond

Safety first
Safety first

At M2, we always go above and beyond to ensure a safe set environment. In collaboration with health professionals, we've developed an extended set of guidelines, specific for film production which will be implemented when the situation calls for extra precautions (e.g., when working with children on set)

Extended precautions:

  • Three safety awareness levels
  • Secure floor plan with specific safe zones.
  • Thorough sterilization of the set, props and equipment.

Safety Awareness Levels

How and when

Safety Awareness Levels

To protect our cast, we will be operating at the following three safety awareness levels at all times.

LEVEL 1: Before the shoot

LEVEL 2: On shoot day when cast is not present on set

LEVEL 3: On shoot day when cast is present on set

An ICM will be present on the set to inform and guide anyone concerning the safety status.

Whenever the safety level changes, the ICM will perform a series of predetermined instructions to secure the set.

To furthermore keep a tight grip on safety, the location will be divided into restricted areas with limited access.

See the next page for further details about this.

Safety first
Green zone

All access allowed while following distance- and sanitation-requirements.

Yellow zone

All access-area that requires extra attention. Proceed with caution

Orange zone

Safety Zone with limited access.

Red zone

Highly restricted Zone with very limited access. Everyone (except the cast) is required to wear protective gear. (max 3 pers.)

Floor plan

Level 1
- before the shoot

Prior to shooting, the set starts to come together; the set is built by set designers and craftsmen and various equipment for lighting, etc., is brought in.

All the people involved in getting the set up and running are allowed to carry out their job within the official government-advised restrictive guidelines.

Safety level 1

Directions (safety level 1)

  • All crew-members on set must have in-depth knowledge of all M2 Safety Instructions and infection control guidelines.
  • Keep distance at all times according to instructions from health professionals (currently 2 meters)
  • Use hand sanitizers according to guidelines.
  • The size of the location determines the maximum amount of people allowed.
  • Regular cleaning of surfaces and props on set.
  • Distance during breaks and lunch.
  • Thorough cleaning prior to shoot day (LEVEL 2)

Level 2
- on shoot day when cast is not present on set

On the day of the shoot, it is important to protect both crew and cast in the best possible way.

This is done by restricting the movability of each person on the set in relation to their function, i.e., when a lighting technician is idle, this person will go to their designated waiting area.

To further the protection of the cast, the time of the cast being on set is limited to an absolute minimum. All technical rehearsals will use a stand-in (either a person that has already have had COVID-19 or an individual that is part of the M2 chain of infection)

Safety level 2

Directions (safety level 2)

  • All instructions from LEVEL 1 still apply.
  • IMPORTANT: No cast-members on set.
  • Cast stand-ins available inside FILM SET for technical rehearsal.
  • Cast stand-ins are required to wear face-mask and gloves.
  • Limited access on location.
  • SAFETY ZONES (orange) are in effect - with limited access.
  • Safety-manager on set at all times.
  • Crew-members should move to IDLE-AREA when possible.
  • Only use dummy-product for prep and technical rehearsal.
  • DOP and anyone inside FILM-SET must wear protective gear.
  • Cast stand-in and dummy products should be removed before moving to LEVEL 3
  • Cleaning might be necessary before moving to LEVEL 3
  • Air-ventilation must be performed before moving to LEVEL 3

Level 3
- on shoot day when cast is present on set

To further extend the protection of the cast, a third safety level takes effect, once they arrive at the set.

In this case, the film-set is completely restricted to cast and DOP only. Director, producer, focus-puller, lighting dept. and sound technicians are restricted to the caution zone around the set.

The cast will not be permitted to leave the film set or its safety area.

Safety level 3

Directions (safety level 3)

  • All instructions from LEVEL 1 still apply.
  • Safety-check must be performed by ICM, before moving cast onto location.
  • CAUTION: Cast-members on-set!
  • Very limited access on location (only key-members)
  • ICM on set at all times.
  • RESTRICTED ZONE (red) is in affect - with very limited access and a maximum of 3 persons within the zone.
  • Only use sanitized HERO-products.
  • DOP and anyone on FILM-SET must wear protective gear. With exception of cast-members required in front of the camera.

Ongoing Sterilization Of The Set

How and when

Certified By SSI

M2 is currently working in close collaboration with a company that specializes in virus and bacteria disinfection, using an SSI approved disinfectant that has been approved for Corona-virus, Ebola, MRSA, etc.

If required, the entire location will be cleaned before the shoot, eliminating 99.9% of all bacteria, virus, fungus, and spores to minimize the risk of infection substantially.

Certified by SSI

Detailed Guidelines

Appendix

Current Official Guidelines

Current official guidelineAdapted from the National Infection Hygiene Guidelines (NIR, Nationale Infektionshygiejniske Retningslinjer), published by Central Unit for Infection Hygiene, the State Serum Institute (SSI). https://hygiejne.ssi.dk/retningslinjer/nir

NIR is developed by the Central Unit for Infection Hygiene (CEI), which is a part of SSI. The guidelines are targeting the entire Danish Healthcare system. CEI is a consulting service for the Danish authorities, which determine hygiene requirements.

To prevent or minimise the spread of various microorganisms from individual to individual, one should consider the following precautions, and their importance for the risk of infection:

  • Hand sanitising
  • Use of protective gear
  • Cleaning and disinfection
  • Handling of clean and unclean clothing
  • Handling of waste
  • Handling of food
  • Information for employees

M2 Film Additional Guidelines

Beside the list of general guidelines for infection hygiene, it is important to consider the conditions for working at a film set at M2 Film during production.

  • Handling of cast
  • Cleaning and disinfection of camera-package
  • Cleaning and disinfection of lighting package
  • Cleaning and disinfection of location and set
  • Cleaning and disinfection of the personal work station

Hand sanitation

  • Washing hands followed by hand sanitizer is always the most effective
  • Frequent hand sanitation
  • Hand sanitation is always performed following use of gloves
  • Hand sanitation is always performed after touching unclean surfaces (e.g. your face)
  • Hand sanitation is always performed before handling or coming into contact with clean surfaces (e.g. food)

Correct hand sanitation

Washing hands

  • Performed when hands or wrists are visibly contaminated or wet.
  • Hands are washed with water and soap for 15 seconds.

Hand sanitation

  • Performed when hands and wrists are visibly clean and dry,
  • The skin must be kept moist by the sanitizer for 30 seconds and is rubbed all over the hands and wrist until the skin is completely dry.
  • The effect of alcohol is markedly reduced if it is applied to wet hands.

Protective gear

  • Gloves
  • Mask
  • Protective gear is for personal and one-time use only.
  • They should be discarded right after use.
  • Gloves should be changed frequently and hand sanitation performed immediately.

Cleaning and disinfection

  1. Cleaning of equipment
  2. Cleaning of location and fixture
  • Cleaning with regular cleaning agents, optionally followed by disinfection with approved disinfectant (85% EtOH).
  • For every area an accurate cleaning plan should be available, which describes whom, how and how often the area should be cleaned.
  • Equipment should bed cleaned and instructions for the cleaning procedures should be available.
  • Equipment must only be handled with properly cleaned hands.

Handling of clothing and other textiles

Textiles can be a reservoir for microorganisms.

  • Textiles should be washed at a temperature as high as possible –desirable at 80°C, preferable at 60°C.
  • When there is a suspicion of infectious disease, the washing machine should be run empty at 80-90°C subsequently.
  • Should be kept in closed closets or on shelves in closed compartments after washing.
  • Handling of textiles after washing only with gloves or following hand sanitation.
  • Textiles used for cleaning after meals/regular cleaning: Cloths and dishtowels should be chanced often and wash at 80°C.
  • Textiles used at bathrooms: Towels should be chanced often and wash at 80°C.

Containers for used clothing and other textiles should be available.

Handling of waste

  • Waste must be sorted, handled and disposed of in a safe manner, keeping the infectious hygiene in mind.
  • There must be no risk for the personnel handling the waste subsequently.
  • As little as possible contact with the waste.
  • Safe storage until pickup.

Handling of food

  • Only packaged food from restaurants or kitchens is served.
  • Food safety guidelines must be followed and food should only be kept and handled following instructions for hygiene.
  • A plan for monitoring of food temperature, handling, etc. should preferably be worked out.
  • No buffets or self-service cars.

Storage of food

  • Cleaning plan for storage rooms, containers and refrigerators.
  • Monitoring of temperature and cleaning times are preferred.

Handling of food

  • Hand sanitation is performed prior to handling.
  • Protective gear (gloves) can be worn.

Kitchen (and serving area)

  • Cleaning is performed daily.
  • A cleaning plan should be worked out (whom, how and how often).
  • Cleaning with regular cleaning agents, optionally followed by disinfection with approved disinfectant (85% EtOH).
  • An option for disinfection is in a dish washer with a temperature of 80°C.
  • Storage in closed compartments.
  • Handling of tableware
  • Only handling after proper hand sanitation or using protective gear.
  • Only use clean cloths – cloths are exchanged frequently and at least after every meal. Dishtowels are exchanged at least at a daily basis.
  • Wash cloths and dishtowels at 80°C.

Refrigerators

  • Temperature should be checked regularly using a separate thermometer. Keep track of temperature.
  • Frequent cleaning.
  • Tableware
  • Disposable tableware can be used.

Information for employees

  • Signs with information should be clearly visible throughout the set.