You have undoubtedly heard the phrase “these are unprecedented times” to the point of exhaustion by now. Determining how to navigate these uncharted waters is a complex issue, one that cannot be detailed in a single blog post. However, I’ve attempted to outline the key points below as determined by the framework developed by the AMPTP, DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, Teamsters and the Basic Crafts. While it is still unsafe for productions to resume as “normal,” some projects are opening up in limited capacity. For example, commercials are shooting again, but on-camera talent is typically confined to members of the same household (read my Q & A with commercial director Matt Miller, where he discusses his experiences on set - and on Zoom - during this time). While some major productions have the resources to provide adequate testing and safety protocols in order to resume work, that doesn’t necessarily translate to smaller productions, leaving many cast and crew members to remain unemployed.
If you are an actor, chances are you’ve received a request to self-tape at least once in the last several months, as in-person auditions can still pose a health risk. SAG-AFTRA recommends that all initial auditions take place virtually unless there is a specific reason why this would not suffice. Any in-person auditions should be held in a space that allows physical distancing, move paperwork to a digital format including scripts, schedules, and confidentiality agreements, and offer actors the ability to wait outside until they are called. If a group audition is required then a partition should be placed between performers and/or clear face shields should be worn.
Hair and Makeup
With the hair and makeup departments working in such close proximity to performers, it is vital that all involved parties adhere to strict safety measures. As outlined by SAG-AFTRA, hair and makeup departments will have health and safety training specific to COVID-19. Hair and makeup artists must wear PPE, workspaces should be adequately ventilated, and strict sanitation measures should be taken regarding workstations and tools.
The same safety measures apply to wardrobe; PPE must be worn and strict sanitation protocols must be followed. In addition, the number of people who come in contact with costumes will be limited, and wardrobe crew must plan ahead to prevent overcrowding of work spaces.
As with other areas of production, strict protocols will be in place regarding props to ensure the health and safety of cast and crew, including thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting props before and after each use, and limiting the number of people allowed to handle them.
Ultimately, the responsibility falls to the producer to provide PPE and testing, and ensure all safety measures are in place. SAG-AFTRA’s video below provides details on how to safely return to work (an outline begins at 10:18). For further information visit sagaftra.org/backtowork.