Producers Guild Issues COVID-19 Rules as Industry Restarts Production

The Producers Guild of America has issued an extensive safety guide for independent producers as they return to work amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The PGA, which has more than 8,000 members, unveiled the 57-page document Monday with detailed recommendations on testing, maintaining physical distancing and wearing personal protective equipment. It includes “red light protocols” on how to manage production when a team member exhibits COVID-19 symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, including potentially shutting down and restarting a production.

“Before beginning pre-production, the production company must have an infectious disease safety plan and have conducted a risk assessment to address ways the COVID-19 hazard will be mitigated on the production,” the report said. “It is recommended that production processes be altered to adapt for COVID-19, rather than adapting COVID-19 processes to existing production practices. This plan is to be communicated to every cast and crew member before beginning work on a production and employment is contingent on agreement to comply with the plan.”

“The Production Safety Task Force has been a priority for us at the Guild and we’re grateful to Lori McCreary, the seasoned producers of the Task Force, and all of our many members who have contributed to this endeavor that will guide us into our next chapter,” said PGA presidents Lucy Fisher and Gail Berman. “As fellow producers, we all feel the need to get back to work while still making sure that our cast and crew are safe and protected. We hope that our guidelines will help make this new reality possible for independent producers and provide an accessible resource for the broader creative community.”

The PGA report said the recommendations are aimed at serving as “planning companions”  in conjunction with the “Safe Way Forward” report issued June 1 by the Industry-Wide Labor Management Safety Committee Task Force to provide governments with a set of guidelines to safely resume production. Since then, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the union reps have been hammering specific safety regulations with details on testing protocols, sick pay and travel to work sites. Sources have expressed cautious optimism that an agreement can by finalized by Labor Day.

The PGA recommendations include allowing only cast members to remove personal protective equipment on sets and only when they are on camera or camera-ready — adding it’s understood that some cast members may not be able to wear PPE after makeup, even when they are not on camera. Only those crew in the “Zone A” who are approved in advance by the producer of the safety officer  may invade the social distancing limits while the cast member is not in proper PPE.

“Zone A individuals who are not cast must be in proper PPE AT ALL TIMES,” the report said.

The report also recommends that producers should schedule and plan for a 10-hour shooting day to allow time at the beginning and end of the day for testing and clearing cast and crew for work. It also recommends that shooting should stop every hour or two to provide (a) a break for those in masks so they can walk outside (socially distanced) and breathe fresh air, (b) the wiping down of the entire set, and (c) blowing the air out or air-scrubbing of the stage or location.

The Task Force collaborated closely with PGA members throughout the process, hosting weekly virtual roundtable discussions with PGA members to share their insights and potential solutions, and to give members actionable tips as the guidelines were finalized. The PGA said the guidelines will be updated periodically as the unions issue new guidance and as producers stress test the industry protocols in the field.

Members of the PGA Production Safety Task Force are Holly Carter, Cean Chaffin, Yolanda T. Cochran, Mike Farah, Jennifer A. Haire, Gary Lucchesi, Kelly Mendelsohn, Jamie Patricof, Robert Salerno, Stacey Sher, Haley Sweet, Chris Thomes, Sara E. White, Mari Jo Winkler, Harvey Wilson, and Lulu Zezza.

Read the full safety guide here.

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