WHAT'S NEW - Countries Resume Film and Television Production

Countries Resume Film and Television Production

by Vandana Thanki

Film and Television production is slowly resuming across the world as governments gradually lift the restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In Europe various countries and film institutions are providing technical and organisational procedures to support productions to return to work and safely restart, during a global pandemic. 

The European Film Commissions Network has been actively collecting all these guidelines to make available to all professionals filming in Europe in the future. 

The guidance ranges from cast and crew testing to protective equipment and on-site organisations, the safety regulations are highly detailed and vary within European countries. Since each country has their own filming compliance, specific risk-based measures need to be established prior the start of any activities.

Below is a summary of filming updates in various countries:

  • Australia

An Australian screen task force has created a guideline called the ‘Covid-safe guidelines’ to aid productions to restart shooting. 

The guidance provides advice on how to keep personnel safe while working on a production. The guidelines will be updated regularly to deliver practical advice with the support of the federal chief medical officer’s team and will continue to develop with the help of the government and industry advice.

The document covers a range of topics such as social distancing, hygiene, working arrangements, supplier management, health monitoring and personal protective equipment (PPE). 

Australian Screen Production Industry COVID-Safe Guidelines

  • Canary Islands

Canary Islands in Spain is expected to resume international productions from July, under strict safety measures. International productions will be able to fly to the island without having to quarantine from 1st July.

Shooting indoors has also been permitted as the Canary Islands have not seen any new deaths or infections in past couple of the weeks. The government has also made the decision to raise the Canary Island’s filming incentive from 40% to 50% for the first €1million spend by international productions on the island and 45% for the rest. Lorena Martin from the Canary Islands Film Commission told KFTV, this makes it ‘the best filming tax incentive in the world’.

• Click here to find out more: Canary Islands 

  • Czech Republic

Major projects from Marvel, Netflix and Amazon are returning to shoot in Czech Republic. Marvel will be shooting The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Netflix will be shooting, Haunted and Amazon will be filming Wheel of Time.

The Czech Republic government has given permission for film and television projects to resume filming but following the new hygiene standards, including testing cast and crew every 14 days.

The Audio-visual Producers Association has also prepared health and safety guidelines in cooperation with the Czech Film Fund and the European Institute for Health and Safety in the Film Industry. Pavlina Zipkova from the Czech Film Commission told KFTV, ‘What lies ahead of the filmmaking routine is ‘the new normal’.

To avoid the 14-day quarantine, all actors and crew members foreign to Czech Republic must show a negative test result when leaving their country. Within 72 hours of arrival, they must undergo another test and remained quarantined until they receive a negative result. 

• Risk Protection Against Contagion of SARS-COV-2 During Filming: Basic Safety Rules

  • Greece

Film productions have been given permission to restart production in Greece and outdoor cinemas to reopen on 18th may and 1st June. The reopening will be a part of the easing of the COVID-19 restrictions which were implemented in mid-March.

Local producers are still waiting on new shooting procedures on hygiene and physical distancing to be issued by the government as well as international traveling to resume.

President of the Greek Producers Association in Sapoe, Panos Papahadzis said “All shooting stopped in Greece on 13th March, to restart productions, we need the issue of the ‘Safe Filming protocols”.

Safety Guidelines For Filming In Greece

  • Hungary

Hungary has lifted the coronavirus restrictions in Budapest as productions slowly resume work across the country.

Prime Minister, Viktor Orban has announced that authorities have successfully controlled the spread of COVID-19 in the capital. He went on to say “Therefore, we can shift to the second phase of defence in Budapest as well, cautiously and thus we lift the lockdown.”

Crew members under 50 have been given permission to start working. CEO of local outfit Shooteasy production services told KFTV “All the producers ask for a negative COVID-19 test from all crew members and cast at the beginning and they test them every week”.

International productions are expecting productions to start pre-production in the country from June or July, with shootings to commence in July or August.

• Click here to read more: Hungary

  • Iceland

Iceland is currently preparing to welcome international productions back into the country in the coming months as long as productions are following safety rules.

The country has taken a strict approach to testing and tracking coronavirus, this has resulted in a number of active cases dropping since 5th April. More than 90% of citizens tested positive have recovered.

Iceland’s film commission, Film in Iceland has proposed a number of guidelines to the Iceland authorities to allow safe filming to resume, these are currently under review.

The guidelines include productions to be screened on arrival into the country and then quarantined in an empty hotel until they receive their results which could take up to 24 hours. This would mean a shorter waiting period for crews, thus removing the need for a 14-day quarantine for visitors outside the Schengen Area. 

Modified Quarantine Procedures For Filming In Iceland During COVID-19

  • India

The Producers Guild of India (PGI) has published a guideline to be used by productions once filming resumes after the decline of COVID-19.

The guideline, ‘Back to Action – Cut To: Staying Safe’ discusses the importance of establishing risk-based measures prior to beginning and it outlines the new procedures that crew have to follow such as hand washing, the mandatory use of hand sanitisers, triple-layer medical masks and gloves, avoiding handshakes, hugs and sharing cigarettes. In addition, social distancing of 2 meters has to be maintained throughout filming.

The document also outlines the detail of sanitising seats and locations, including carrying out monthly swab tests and ionisers to help destroy bacteria. Working from home has been encouraged and elderly or those with health issues to stay safe by working from home. Audience count  for non-fiction filming should be reduced by 50%; each audience member will be seated at a distance of 1m. 

Producers Guild Of India: Back to Action - Cut To: Staying Safe Guide

  • New Zealand

WorkSafe, the New Zealand government agency has recommended the COVID-19 Health and Safety Standard and Protocols, productions will be able to return to work.

The guide was funded by the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) and developed by ScreenSafe with the collaboration of industry experts.

NZFC CEO Annabelle Sheehan said, “The NZFC’s focus and commitment since the industry hiatus has been the health and safety of all those who work in the New Zealand film industry and the ongoing sustainability of the wider screen sector”.

ScreenSafe COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols for the New Zealand Screen Sector

  • Poland

The polish government have decided that film and television production can resume in the country with certain safety protocols in place.

The guideline recommends crew to wear masks on set and that cast social distance from crew. A well as limiting the number of members on set at a time.

 Screendaily Article by Michael Rosser

Poland Basic Safety Rules On The Film Set

  • Turkey

Local film and television productions are returning to work and international productions are expected to return from June-July. Ege Yasar, at local production service Mental Film said “We continue our daily work during COVID-19 pandemic by following strict protocols and regulations to ensure the health and safety of our crews and always in line with clients’ requests and requirements.”

Any productions who are interested in filming in Turkey will need to spend at least TL6m (£760,000) in the country for feature films and TLK1m (£127,000) for documentaries and TV series (per episode).

• Click here to find out more: Turkey

  • USA

The Industry Wide Labor Management Safety Committee Task Force submitted a report to the governors Gavin Newsom and Andrew Cuomo on 1st June after a consultation between studios, streamers, guilds and other groups under the organisational care of the Alliance Motion Picture and Television Producers.

The report mentions that crew members wear face masks and implement social distancing. As well as cleaning work areas, checking symptoms and temperature regularly and having COVID-19 compliance officers in the workplace.

• Click here to read more from the Screendaily Report written by Jeremy Kay

Industry Wide Labor Management Safety Committee Task Force White Paper