British Film Commission publishes COVID-19 production guidelines

The 34-page document is titled ‘Working Safely During COVID-19 in Film and High-end TV Drama Production’ and has been endorsed by the government

Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia in Netflix's The Witcher

There has been much speculation about what a return to filming will look like for film and TV crews in the UK – and now a set of production guidelines has been released by the British Film Commission (BFC) outlining measures that should be taken.

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The 34-page document, which is titled ‘Working Safely During COVID-19 in Film and High-end TV Drama Production’ has been endorsed by the government and reportedly follows wide industry consultation.

The guidelines, which are advisory rather than mandatory, include daily symptom checks for cast and crew, ‘COVID-19 Safer Working’ training for everyone involved in production, and social distancing to be applied wherever possible.

Other advised measures include the establishment of an isolation and return-to-work protocol, the encouragement of increased hand washing and the avoidance of crowd scenes.

Meanwhile there are also stipulations regarding catering, the cleaning of communal areas, costuming, travel, and the mental health of cast and crew.

Endorsing the guidelines, culture secretary Oliver Dowden said, “The UK is recognized around the globe as a brilliant place to make films, and is home to the world’s best film and high-end TV talent.

“We’ve worked hard to support the industry through these difficult times, and I’m delighted we’ve been able to agree this step forward towards getting the cameras rolling safely again.”

Adrian Wootton, chief executive of the BFC added, “The industry is extremely keen to restart production as soon as possible, but not without a comprehensive road map for how to do it safely while the threat of COVID-19 still looms large.

“Today’s guidance provides that reassurance, reflecting the latest government, technical and medical advice available.

“We will also update it on a regular basis, giving clarity on the latest measures recommended to ensure a safe shoot for cast, crew and the wider public.”

The publication of the guidelines means that production of UK-based film and TV productions can technically get up and running again with immediate effect – with productions such as Warner Bros’ The Batman and Netflix’s The Witcher among those to be affected.

However it is likely that it will take some time for most productions to implement the guidelines – and so the earliest most crews could be expected to start filming again is probably July.

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