As we begin to re-engage in non-essential work, including film and photo shoots, over the next 12-18 months (before there is rapid testing or a vaccine available), we will need to take special precautions to ensure the safety of our crews, as well as taking into account greater public health concerns.

There is no 100% safe way to begin production with more than one person present, but there is a wide spectrum of riskier vs. safer productions, and well-organized productions that follow medically advised safety protocols will be safer than those that aren’t.

Let’s be careful as a community and look out for groups that are trying to rush back to work without the proper safety protocols, and let’s arm ourselves with the best information available to be able to assess the risk of individual shoots, and display situational awareness on set to protect ourselves, and our colleagues. If you see something, say something.

Persons over 65 years of age and with underlying medical conditions who are at risk for more severe complications from Covid-19 will need to make personal decisions about going back to work and the increased risk it may present to them. They may wish to discuss this with their doctor or another medical professional.

It is important to stay up to date, as every week is different in relation to Coronavirus, and we intend for this to be a living document that gets updated as new information is available, and as we get feedback on its efficacy. If you have comments, corrections, or additions to this document, please email us at

This document was created with the ideas and input from the following people, and we hope that more names will be added:

Betsy Davison, co-founder Space for Arts.

Mathieu Young, photographer/director and founder Art of Freelance

Carrie Heather, Director of Production Creative Blood Production Agency

Dr. David Davenport, Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control, Borgess Medical Center & Clinical Associate Professor at Western Michigan University Homer Stryker, M.D. School of Medicine


Pre Production

1.  Risk Assessment: Not all shoots will have the same level of risk. In general, a shoot outdoors is safer than a shoot indoors, a shoot in Iowa is safer than a shoot in the Bronx, a shoot with a crew of 3 is safer than a shoot with a crew of 30. However, there are many nuances, and risk should be assessed as part of the pre-production process.

A risk assessment checklist could ask questions like these, among others:

  • Is a Health & Safety Monitor** available?
  • How many people will be present?
  • What is the size of room/space?
  • How is the ventilation?
  • How well trained is the team in COVID-19 production?
  • Are there masks, gloves and other PPE readily available?
  • How complex is the shoot?

**Health & Safety Monitor: Someone who is knowledgeable and/or trained to help with the safety on set protocols, sanitization, PPPs, situational awareness of what is happening on set and making sure everyone is following appropriate guidelines for the production. 

2.  Creative Directors, Art Directors, Art Producers, etc.

Some considerations for planning your production using these protocols as a guide:

  • Can budgets be adjusted to leave room for longer, slower shoots with less crew, but more attention to safety protocols?
  • Can schedules be adjusted to leave more time for virtual pre-production, online shopping and slower shipping, and longer, slower shoots?
  • What problems with attending shoots virtually do you anticipate?
  • If you have to shoot a family having dinner, it would be safer to shoot on a back porch vs. in a dining room.
  • Or, if you have to shoot a group shot, it would be safer to shoot each actor individually.

3.  Limit travel

  • Production / crew / talent should be local
  • If clients or agency are not local, provide live stream / virtual attendance options.

4.  Limit crew size

  • Smaller crews are better. The actual size of a crew would depend on the size of the location.
  • Crews should maintain 6’+ social distancing practices at all times.
  • Live streams and virtual attendance options should be considered for all personel, including clients, agency, stylists, digital techs, retouchers, etc.

5.  Limit talent to people that have been previously exposed to each other, or shoot talent separately.

  • Do virtual casting whenever possible, or find casting directors that have significantly adjusted their processes (no more “cattle call” castings or waiting rooms, certain age groups doing only self tapes at home, etc.)
  • Cast real couples, real families, roommates, etc, to avoid creating new exposures on set.
  • When possible, use compositing tools to shoot talent separately.

6.  Scheduling

  • Shorter shoots are safer than longer shoots due to viral load (i.e. two 5 hour days is safer than one 10 hour day)
  • Whenever possible, work should be done in shifts (i.e., first the props team, then the lighting team, then the photo team, then the video team, etc.)

7.  Choice of locations

  • A shoot in a cornfield in Iowa is safer than a shoot on a subway in Brooklyn
  • An outdoor shoot safer than indoor shoot
  • A large indoor space is better than small indoor space
  • Windows open better than windows closed
  • Fans can help

8.  Virtual pre-production

  • Do whatever is possible to do virtually, including prop styling, wardrobe styling, pre production meetings, etc.

9.  Disclosures and liability releases

  • A dedicated person should reach out to all crew members the night before the shoot to have them verify they have no symptoms and have no known exposure to the virus.
    • Any respiratory symptoms (runny nose, cough, sore throat) or fever rules in the possibility
    • It could be a cold or allergies, but until there is POC testing, the safe bet is to not come in
    • How will we handle people not being allowed on set because they have some symptoms?
      • Understudies or backup crew members?
      • What about payment for the people who aren't allowed on set?
        • Workers comp will likely not cover it, unless they test positive for coronavirus
      • Crews must sign liability waivers before the shoot related to the potential exposure to Coronavirus on set and must sign a post-shoot waiver indicating that proper protocols were established and followed on set.
      • All crew members and talent should be paid through a payroll company to ensure they are paying into the state workers comp and unemployment insurance programs.

10.  Feedback

  • We should set up safety hotlines and feedback loops so we can, as an industry, learn from each other’s mistakes and successes.
  • Who will start the Condenasty Catering instagram account for safe vs. unsafe sets?

On Set Protocols

1. Situational Awareness / Protocol monitoring

  • All crew members should be trained in and expected to display situational awareness related to Coronavirus.
  • This is common sense stuff: hand washing, social distancing, airflow, disinfection of packages and EQ, etc. We need to hold each other accountable and call out unsafe behavior.
  • It would be better to also have a Health and Safety Officer whose role is to ensure protocols are being followed, spot unsafe behavior, and monitor for symptoms.

2.  Testing of crew

  • When rapid testing is available, all crew and talent could be tested for Coronavirus before the shoot.
  • Until then, they could have temperatures taken before the shoot, and anyone with fever or exhibiting symptoms would not be allowed on set. 

3.  Personal Protective Equipment

  • Crew should provide their own PPEs when they are available without taking them from medical workers or other essential services, production should provide backups.
    • Masks -- N95 masks are better, but surgical masks provide protection as do cloth coverings.
    • Latex gloves
    • Cover-alls
      • Crews could change out of their “on set” clothes before returning to personal vehicles, homes, etc.
      • Take note that Coronavirus can live on your shoes

4.  Equipment handling

  • Do not share EQ, or limit sharing to a bare minimum
  • If equipment is being handled by more than one person, disposable gloves should be worn, and the equipment should be sanitized after use. Here are CDC recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting:
    • Including cameras, lighting and grip EQ, production supplies, etc
    • Seamless paper and other potentially reusable items should be disposed of after use.
    • Germicidal boxes and UV wands are somewhat effective, if used in conjunction with other sanitization tools.
    • What do we do about set gloves needed for touching hot lights? The virus can live on that material and those gloves don't get washed much. Would the heat of the lamp kill the virus? Is there a disposable heat proof material (like CineFoil) that could be used between the gloves and EQ? 

5.  Ventilation: If we look at the model of “negative airflow” used in hospitals, we see that proper airflow helps prevent infection.

  • Indoor locations should have proper airflow. Fans and open windows can help.  
  • Consideration of the use/installation of a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter in your heating and cooling system.

6.  HMUA: Because of their potential close proximity to talent, special considerations should be taken for makeup, hair, and wardrobe stylists.

  • Where possible, consider using virtual or on set consultants for HMUA/MUA that help talent do their own makeup/hair/styling.
  • If these stylists must go within 6’ of another person to do their job, use proper PPEs.

7.  Disinfection of sets

  • Line items will be included in budgets for disinfection of sets before and after the shoot.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces including doorknobs, drawer pulls, and toilet levers.
  • Create a list of frequently touched surfaces for sanitization.
  • Consider naming a “Health & Safety Monitor” responsible for ensuring proper disinfection of the set. 
    • Their is a Production Infection Control Course being offered by Rightway Consulting/OSHA Authorized Outreach Safety Trainer, John Cordes to become certified for Covid-19 health & Safety on set; email to inquire. "We created an updated PICC (Production Infection Control Course) and are hosting it as a live zoom webinar this Monday, June 29th, 2020 at 2 pm (14:00) EST-NYC time. This webinar will be recorded."
  • Ample hand sanitizer and hand washing stations should be provided.

8.  Catering

  • Can crews be encouraged to bring their own food (and compensated for doing so, ie per diem)?
  • Should all catering and craft service be single serve, and pre wrapped?
  • Should serving utensils be single use?
  • No reusable water bottles, coffee cups, etc. 

9.  No visitors allowed during shoots. Establish a safe controlled environment where people know their roles and are looking out for themselves and their colleagues.

10. Bathrooms

  • If the toilet has a lid, close it before flushing.  If there’s an exhaust fan, leave it running when you leave the bathroom. Don’t go into the bathroom right after someone else. And, of course, wash your hands properly and often.”
  • Take cleaning wipes to clean door knobs, sink faucets, toilet seats.
  • Make sure that whoever is in charge of the bathroom has it cleaned regularly.

11.  Elevators

  • Take cleaning wipes to clean buttons and railings.
  • Wear masks, try not to touch anything, socially distance or ride alone.  
  • Keep rides short to Stay Safe on Elevators.

What does this mean for budgets?

  • Budgets will need to include new line items for proper safety protocols to be followed.
  • Shoots will be slower because there are fewer crew members, and so what once was a one day shoot may need to be 2-3 days.
  • Budget savings on less travel and fewer crew members on set may be offset by longer shoots and additional safety protocols.





UK Photo/Film Industry

Europe Photo/Film Industry










Guidance on COVID-19

Additional Articles
Two Projects are Filming Again, Here's How They're Doing it, Colored Wrist Bands, The New York Times, 15 May 2020

Los Angeles, CA

If you have comments, corrections, or additions to this document, please email us at