Love and fight scenes may be forced to the cutting room floor, as WorkSafeBC releases guidelines for the film and television sector to safely restart production amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health officials never ordered production to cease, but many operations shut down in March because of border restrictions, physical-distancing rules, and concern for workers’ health and safety.
The WorkSafeBC recommendations include drastically changing the sorts of scenes viewers are used to, including any scene requiring close contact.
“The performer has the right to refuse close contact with other performers, such hugging, kissing, and stunts requiring close contact. Scenes involving singing, loud yelling, or the use of wind instruments may increase the risk of transmission,” the guidelines state.
“Where possible, film these outdoors and/or ensure adequate distancing between people.”
Premier John Horgan has said “Hollywood North” is a priority under his government’s response to the pandemic. In the 2018/19 fiscal year, the industry contributed $3.2 billion to B.C.’s economy.
But one of the biggest challenges for resuming shows such as Warner Bros.’ Supernatural and Riverdale will be the restrictions at the Canada/U.S. border.
Anyone coming from the United States will have to be deemed an essential worker or be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
Workers from out of the country will also be required to self-isolate for 14 days before being allowed on set.
“Establish policies restricting access to the worksite for those who are sick, who have travelled from outside of Canada, or who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19. Ensure cast and crew have a process for identifying if they have developed symptoms,” the guidelines read.
“Cast remotely wherever possible by using virtual meetings or other means. Cast members of the same household in scenes where physical distancing cannot be maintained and where appropriate.”
Horgan has said he hoped B.C.’s film sector would get a jump start on California and New York, which have substantially higher rates of COVID-19 transmission.
But California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Friday the state will allow film and television shoots to resume as soon as June 12.
Productions will still be subject to specific county public-health laws.
An agreed set of production protocols will also prompt major changes to the way movie and TV sets operate, including the elimination of buffet-style meals for workers and new requirements to wipe down handheld props after each use.
British Columbia will require similar changes, including the elimination of self-serve food items, restrictions on how many people could sit at a table for a meal, and assurances that trailers are cleaned and disinfected before being assigned to a new performer.