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Message to all productions from the Unions and Guilds of Ontario:
As the film industry in Ontario launches back into full production mode, the Unions and Guilds in Ontario have been meeting and discussing best practices and
management of Covid-19 issues. From the lessons learned from productions that have already returned to work, we’d like to share some observations and considerations for productions moving forward:
COMMUNICATIONS: As has been noted in other documents, communication with your cast and crew is key to ensuring adherence and understanding of Covid protocols. These are some points productions should consider:
Identification: Covid compliance personnel should be clearly identified on daily call sheets, along with an indication of their daily workplaces and times of work. Add a bold caps banner on the first page of the call sheet indicating the name and number/email of the COVID Supervisor and/or designated management personnel.
There should always be a Covid compliance officer (could be the medic or another member of the Covid team) available on set to receive complaints and/or questions from the cast and crew and to oversee prevention protocols.
If the Covid Officer(s) have a dedicated workstation at the studio, that should be indicated on the callsheet. On location, consider where they can set up a workstation for basecamp, and where on set they can be easily accessible.
Consider alternates - When the Covid Officer(s) are off, who is the designated replacement? This info should be marked on all call sheets.
Consider having jackets made for the "COVID Supervisor” - think FBI type jacket, the goal being that the Covid Supervisor will be clearly visible on set.
Notices: We would also stress that communication between Production and your cast and crew around anything to do with Covid needs to be clear and timely. If there are changes to policy, concerns about positive test results or implementation procedures, please communicate with your cast and crew. Rumours spread as quickly as infections and performers and crews are already anxious about returning to work during this time.
- Training: As part of the Covid training, educate everyone on details of how testing works, old infections vs new infections, the circumstances around how an individual can return to work after quarantine, how Ontario Public Health works, issues around privacy and what precautions households can
take now that schools are back and provide an opportunity for cast and crew to ask a lot of the questions they have about how things will work, and about their own safety.
Unions and Guilds: While cast and crew communication is vital, please ensure that you communicate with us as well. Include the unions and guilds in future communications on this subject, including notification of any issues surrounding non-compliance by our Members. When we are involved and aware of all new developments, we can help support production protocols and manage some of the related anxiety amongst our respective memberships.
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE): Concerns have been expressed by crew members and cast regarding approval of personally provided PPE. Standard PPE provided by the Producer should be the norm so that there is no doubt as to the efficacy or cleanliness of anyone’s PPE. For example, there was a complaint that someone was wearing the same personal and very identifiable mask every day, and there was little faith that it was being laundered regularly. Standardization of PPE would eliminate concerns re this type of issue.
Masks: Indicate in bold caps at the top of all call sheets which types of masks are approved for use and which types are not. Give the crew the option between disposable surgical mask, KN 95 for certain positions and cloth (which many crew members prefer for environmental reasons).
We are mindful and aware that supply chains for surgical masks and KN 95 masks are going to be impacted by the potential second wave coming this fall, with the re-opening of schools, prioritizing of Hospital needs etc. – and there are also the environmental concerns that many crew members have about the increased use of disposable masks.
- Adherence: Ensure strict policing by the Covid Supervisors and medics on the proper use of PPE on set and respect of protocols. Please speak to all department heads to reinforce this. Please ensure this is also communicated to all cast on set.
- Sanitization: Ensure adequate number of portable hand sanitization stations in studio and on location, and be diligent about their placement close to set and in high traffic areas. These should be refilled in a timely manner. PPE disposal containers should be available and clearly marked as well.
- Ensure that where there are concerns about spread and infection, that thorough steps are taken to address the issues, particularly cleaning and
disinfection of areas of note. Whether it is washrooms, Craftservice areas or lunchrooms, ensure that all are thoroughly cleaned, and the cast and crew are informed of the steps taken.
TIME: Crew members need to be afforded appropriate time within the shoot day to follow protocols appropriately. Preventative measures have indeed proven to be effective in combatting potential spread, however if time is not allowed for these measures to be properly followed, risk rises.
Have ongoing discussions with your Directors and AD teams to address these concerns. As we all know from working on sets for many years there are many pressures, so this adjustment in the way we have traditionally worked is a tough one – basically we must retrain ourselves.
From a creative point of view, consider reduced scene counts and script days on production, along with any other measures that would relieve pressure on day to day production.
TESTING AND SCREENING: Testing currently is the only measure that will give the cast and crew full reassurance that their workplace is free from danger of infection. Ensure that the screening safety net is effective. Anyone that does not pass the screening at the start of the day should not be allowed on set.
Consider ongoing regular testing.
After notification of a positive test response, consider that the incubation period for Covid-19 is four to five days, so plan another round of tests on at that point, thus ensuring that any other potentially developing infections can be caught prior to the commencement of another work week.
Please note that current wait times at Public Health facilities are long and turn-around time to receive results through Public Health are upwards of 4-5 days. Private testing is key to ensuring timely testing and timely results being delivered so as not to affect your shooting schedule.
Also note that screening at the start of the day is paid time.
Timely communication, standardized PPE, adequate time for the work to be completed safely and clear testing & screening, along with increased oversight from Management will ensure a safer set and allow for the “new normal” to become much more routine for the cast and crew.