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Protocols to ensure on-set safety during the COVID pandemic

2020 will be a year etched in everyone’s mind as an unforgettable and exhausting whirlwind of uncertainty, fright, disruption, and transformation. No one knows how the rest of the year will transpire, but people adapt. Audienz has, as has our video practice.

We work on a lot of live action video projects at Audienz, but COVID-19 has forced us to reconsider how we approach these productions. To ensure the safest environment, we’ve developed a hospital-approved hygiene protocol with our video partner, Hand Crank. This protocol boils down to several key points: using smaller production crews, working mindfully, being spatially-aware, clearly communicating, providing copious amounts of hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies, and insisting everyone wears a mask unless they are actively on-camera shooting a scene.

Keep it smaller and spread out
Keeping a crew small so only essential people are on set helps reduce the contact that people have outside their “circle.” Circles require trust and communication to work. Six months ago, we might have invited a few people on set that weren’t absolutely essential for a shoot: A writer to assist with last-minute script changes, a designer who helped with the storyboard, clients who want to see our work in action, and often an intern or someone in training. Now, we’re avoiding that. Only the people essential for the shoot are allowed in. And those who are on set are given the room they need to work comfortably and safely. On-set shots are conducted with the subject at least 10 feet away from the interviewer, windows open (when available) and fans are used to keep air circulating.

Shoot outdoors whenever possible
When following CDC recommendations (keeping 6 feet of distance, wearing face masks, not touching faces or other people, etc.), the likelihood of exposure to COVID is greatly reduced. In addition, shooting outdoors reduces the potential risk of exposure further.

Masks are provided for every member of the production, and it is mandatory for everyone to wear them at all times. The only exception is for on-screen talent, and they must wear masks between every take. We supply N95 masks for every member of every production.

Washing surfaces and mics with isopropyl alcohol and/or bleach solutions to limit cross contamination helps minimize potential exposure. All surfaces are cleaned for at least 30 seconds. We never share mics without first cleaning them thoroughly. If makeup is used for a shoot, brushes and other applicators are disposable and only used once. Double dipping into makeup is avoided. We encourage talent to do their own makeup using their personal supplies. Approved hand sanitizers are available for each member of the production. We also carry soap and water on every shoot.

Food and water
We discourage eating, and water is not provided during a shoot. Each member of the production and talent is reminded that they will need to provide their own water during a shoot.

Working mindfully and efficiently
Getting things right the first time means we capture the shots we need in fewer takes. While this sounds like a no-brainer, sometimes wonderful things happen on set: An actor ad libs a perfect line, an interview explores an unexpected tangent, or a cameraperson suggests a shot outside the storyboard. We always try to foster creativity and create the space to do it, but right now we’re reeling that in. Instead, we’re making an effort to loop people into the process earlier. While this might be less spontaneous, we still make room for creativity in the process.

Communication makes for increased safety
For any of this to work, it’s essential that everyone on set be open, communicative, and honest. As a crew, we trust that we are following CDC guidelines on social distancing – both on-set and off. Because guidelines are evolving, we rely on expert guidance to come up with best practices and encourage clear, frequent communication during every production. We’d much rather delay production to be safe, than risk infection. “Hey, I just touched that equipment,” or “those mics haven’t been sanitized yet” always lands well. We never dismiss these reminders and encourage the friendly reminder.

Participation is voluntary
Last of all, and possibly the most important, we encourage people to feel comfortable with the effort. If they ever, at any time feel uncomfortable or unsafe on set, we make any changes that are needed to make corrections. We schedule and plan so that these changes can even include canceling production. For example, for the Audienz vlog, we ensure our crew knows that participation is voluntary and can be rescinded at any time. Anyone who wants to participate in the vlog but does not want to do in-person shooting can have special arrangements made for a Teams recording video.

Contact us to learn more about how you can reach potential customers or communicate important information to your team with our complete, end-to-end video production services.

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