Filming During A Pandemic

Filming During A Pandemic

By Harry Klunder; Production Manager at Monte Productions

It’s a big responsibility, the job of protecting people in a highly tactile and collaborative environment, especially for independent filmmakers. During the preproduction and budgetting of Tim Lewinston’s “There’s always Hope” I estimated that safety measures cost as much as 10% of the production budget, and it would also result in additional shooting days. A new additional subject that has noe become part of our new future in film production.

We decided to create a Covid-19 bubble in which we all had to stay in the same hotel and we were not allowed to leave the hotel during the days-off. Every single person outside our bubble to visit on set had to undergo a Covid-19 speed test and had to go through the same health and safety procedures as the cast and crew.  All were required to test negative for coronavirus not earlier than three days prior to arrival. All crew were tested at ABC’s test laboratory at Faro’s stadium, max. 24 hours at the very beginning of the production, before stepping into our Covid-19 bubble, and additional speed tests were done once per work week where needed. These were AlphaBiolabs COVID-19 Antigen (Ag) Rapid Tests that were ordered in the UK. All Part time workers outside our bubble, like crowed controllers, location manager, drone pilot etc.  were tested before coming on set. We had daily temperature testing, in the morning, while arriving on set .  All parties signed agreements to ensure best quarantine practices while off set.

Dealing with the Corona Virus and the protocols to follow had a big impact on the production team while filming. For example:

– Craft services is no longer a delicious group hang, but a single-serve pre-packed food and drinks. The ritual around the communal snack table has changed a lot. Talent and crew are no longer free to browse and touch snacks and drinks, as now everyone served individually.. They put signs up to remind people to sanitize their hands, to not touch food. It’s hard because this is the opposite of how we’re used to using craft service.

– The makeup trailer is no more a joyous gossip zone, but a tense exercise in masked precision.

– The always pleasant lunches, where everyone was mixed at the table, and were able to get away from the concentration for an hour, are now replaced by departments separated by a color code and different lunch times.

We created an additional Covid-19 team that would be responsible for the execution of the strict regulations given by the Portuguese authorities. A very important person on set was Otto Linden, who was hired as the production’s COVID compliance officer, a role that will become crucial in the years ahead.

Otto and his team of 2 medical assistants completed an official Covid19 certification at the SST (Seguranca e Saude no trabalho) by Previa in Faro Before preparation for their role. He and his team reminded everyone of social distancing guidelines and offered a personal bottle of hand sanitizer. He never stopped moving, whether he was policing physical distancing, staggering who and what departments could access sets and trailers, patrolling common areas, or accounting for and releasing support staff.  Our Covid-19  team is one of the reasons why we were able to finish one of the safest productions in Portugal, with zero cases of Covid-19 contamination.

For the future, master safety protocol documents must be created for each individual production, and when shooting in Portugal, it must align with APTA regulations and actors union guidelines, as well as those protocols dictated by and based on the recommendations of the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) for the prevention of COVID-19. The Portugal Film Commission indicates in their Covid-19 Protocols the basic guidelines so that filming in Portugal can take place with the least possible risk.

Spy Manor Productions is proud to have collaborated with Monte Productions, Bad Penny Productions &  Moviebox during the production of the feature film “There’s Always Hope “ in the Algarve region.

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