For Fall 2020, the main film school facilities in University Center A have been divided up into zones for the first three floors of the building. The class schedule has also been designed to minimize the number of students occupying a specific zone in any given morning or afternoon, and students are requested to stay within their zone when they come into the building for in-person classes.
Entering and Exiting
To further assist with managing the flow of people through the building, non-FSUFILM people are being directed to enter from the front of the building and use the two main elevators to get to their floors. Film students are requested to not use those two elevators and to enter/exit the build through designated doors.
FIRST FLOOR – PRODUCTION ZONE Use the doors off of the loading dock
SECOND FLOOR – POST-PRODUCTION ZONE Use the lobby entrance and take the stairs in the lobby straight up to the second floor. When leaving Mix A, exit through the lobby.
THIRD FLOOR – CLASSROOM ZONE Enter from the loading dock and take the service elevator to the third floor.
FIFTH FLOOR – FACULTY OFFICES Enter from the loading dock, take the service elevator to the third floor, then the stairs up to the fifth floor.
All cast and crew members must maintain a social distance of six feet from one another at all times, including actors during takes. The only exception to this will be if crew members must be closer than six feet apart for a specific technical operation. In such situations, the physical proximity should be kept to a minimum duration and an extra level of protection should be considered, such as a face-shield or a plexiglass divider.
Mask-wearing is required indoors at all times and outdoors when physical distancing is not possible. This applies to all cast and crew. Even if you are working with your roommates and do not wear masks at home, the second you begin working on an FSUFILM project (such as a class exercise or weekend project) you are “at work” and required to follow all safety protocols. The only exception is that actors may remove their masks when they are on camera, during takes only.
You are permitted to film at locations outside of your home and beyond your property as long as you follow the requirements of the local health department and so long as there will be more than 20 people gathered. You also must get permission to film on any property other than your own.
If school equipment is issued for a weekend exercise, you must clean it at check-out, following the cleaning protocols issued by the Equipment Room. Then you must clean it again when the equipment is returned (or prior to being handed off to another student).
There will be no usage of film school facilities for weekend exercises unless it is deemed essential and specifically authorized by the Dean.
Green Light from Instructor
Prior to filming any class exercises, weekend projects or productions, students must present a safety plan to their faculty member demonstrating that the shoot follows the policies above.
To help with mitigating risk, students will be provided with specific writing parameters that are appropriate to the level of production, including in some cases a reduced page count and limits on quantities of characters and locations. Due to students on earlier projects having less on-set experience and less time for preparing each show, introductory-level films will have stricter writing parameters than advanced-level films.
One location, written for a specific location
Two characters, written for specific actors
No actions that require actors to be closer than six feet
No actions that might typically require an intimacy coordinator, such as nudity or physically sexual situations
One location, written for a specific location
Two characters, written for specific actors
No actions that require actors to be closer than six feet
No actions that might typically require an intimacy coordinator, such as nudity or physically sexual situations
Camera and sound departments should carefully disinfect all media cards in the presence of the Assistant Editor, before handing them off.
If the location has sufficient internet speeds, media should be ingested at the location and uploaded to frame.io. The Post Hall staff will then back up the media on the server.
If an AE needs to return to the film school to ingest and sync media, a secure work area and ingest computer will be provided.
On early projects (e.g., F1, D1, Doc, F2), all picture editing will take place remotely on students’ personal computers.
On later projects (e.g, F3, BTH, D2, MTH), editors will be permitted access to an editing suite, but directors will need to work remotely.
On early projects (F1, D1, Doc, F2), all sound editing will take place remotely on students’ personal computers.
On later projects (F3, BTH, D2, MTH), sound designers will be permitted access to a suite.
ADR will typically be performed off-site, using a mobile ADR kit that is sent to the actors. Recording ADR at the school will require approval in advance.
Use of the Foley stage will be strictly scheduled and managed.
Only one person on the Foley stage and one person in the control room will be permitted.
Face masks must be worn during the session.
Students are asked to bring in their own props. If you don’t have access to a particular prop, you can make a request to Thomas to check it out.
Rags and disinfectant will be provided. At the start of the session, students should wipe down any surfaces before touching them. At the end of the session, students should again wipe down any touched surfaces. Please be as attentive as possible to this.
In-person mixes are permissible, using masks/distancing.
On early projects (F1, D1, Doc, F2), all coloring will take place remotely on students’ personal computers.
On later projects (F3, BTH, D2, MTH), colorists will be permitted access to a coloring suite, but directors will need to work remotely. Wherever possible, calibrated iPads will be provided to both the colorist and the director, so that what the director sees is close to what the colorist sees.
Pertinent COVID-19 safety information must be distributed with the call sheet, including: specific directions for parking and the reception checkpoint; a map or visualization of Zone B; and reminders about physical distancing, face-coverings, and frequent hand-washing.
Start of the Production Day
Daily Wellness Check
All students are encouraged to monitor their own health before leaving for set, using FSU’s Daily Wellness Check app.
Cast and crew should self-drive wherever possible.
Cast and crew discouraged from using public transit. Better for the Producer to arrange a car pickup for anyone who needs a ride.
If carpooling or riding in company transportation, use face-coverings.
Grip and genie trucks:
Driver and Passenger should sanitize the inside of the cab and all doors/handles at both pick-up and drop-off of the vehicle.
If Driver and Passenger prefer to not share the cab, this should be determined in advance. An acceptable alternative is a “caravan” to the location, in which the Passenger drives behind the truck in their own vehicle (to keep watch on the truck, maintaining cell phone communication with the truck driver throughout the journey) and a third crew member drives in front of the truck (so that the truck driver doesn’t also have to navigate). When arriving at the location, the truck driver should wait for the passenger to park first, so that the passenger can assist with guiding the truck during parking.
Prepping the Location
The plan for securing and sanitizing the location must be completed before cast and crew enter the location at call time.
2D establishes spaces for the reception checkpoint, base camp, green room, outdoor mask-free area, lunch area, and team spaces for departments. There will be no craft service table.
Maximize access to bathrooms and hand-washing/sanitizing stations.
2D makes sure necessary signage is posted.
Crew reports to the 2D at reception checkpoint to clock in on iPad. The 2D takes their picture from six feet away.
2D confirms cast and crew appear to have a compliant mask. If they do not have a mask or the mask appears inadequate, then one of the school’s mask will be provided.
2D asks to take their temperature using a touchless forehead thermometer. If the temperature is above 100.3°F, the individual shall be sent home.
2D gives out walkie, which crew member then sanitizes.
Cast and crew collect craft service for the day (individual packages).
Morning Meeting includes additional COVID safety announcements.
Due to the congregation of all members, the morning meeting should ideally be performed outside. If the space does not permit all crew to congregate with physical distancing, the crew should be divided into smaller groups and the meeting should be repeated for each group.
Crew then reports to their department heads.
Equipment will be loaded off the truck in a prescribed sequence.
Only one crew member is permitted in the back of the truck at a time. Physical distancing must be observed at all times.
Equipment may only be handled by members of the department to which it belongs and each department is responsible for sanitizing its equipment during load in.
THROUGHOUT THE DAY
Working out the Blocking
Director, Actors and 1D go to set to work out blocking while crew stages in respective team spaces.
Working out the Coverage
Physical distancing must be maintained during the laying down of marks. Either the actors should step back while the 2C lays down the mark, or the actor should be provided tape to lay down their own mark.
SS watches for continuity, maintaining physical distance at all times.
All department heads come to set to discuss blocking and coverage.
If physical distancing is not possible due to space limitations, the New Deal should be repeated for smaller clusters of department heads.
First Team leaves set with 2D and goes to the green room.
Wardrobe, hair, and makeup: PD coordinates with the actors in the green room (or other designated area).Wherever possible, actors should be responsible for their own hair and makeup. If actors need to remove masks for hair and makeup, the green room becomes Zone A.
Video village: Set up in a location to minimize crowding around the monitor. Only two, physically distancing crew members may be at video village at one time, with priority given to the Director and Script Supervisor.
Microphones: Sound Mixer gives a sanitized wireless lav to each actor and instructs them how to secure the mic. If necessary, the Sound Mixer may secure the mic themselves, but the physical proximity should be kept to a minimum duration and an extra level of protection should be considered, such as a face-shield or a plexiglass divider.
Camera placement should be more than six feet away from any actor. Any exceptions to this need to be approved during Director’s Prep.
Crew must maintain physical distancing at all times, except for where a technical operation makes it impossible. Such moments should be kept to a bare minimum and undertaken with extreme caution.
If the space does not permit crew members to maintain physical distancing, the 1D must organize the staggering and rotation of different departments’ work. This is something that should have been identified during the tech scout, so a plan should already have been discussed for this in advance of the production day.
Keep minimal crew on set. All others go to team spaces off-set.
Do not use actors for the camera rehearsal.
1D clears set of all non-essential crew.
2D brings First Team to set. 1D announces at the set is now Zone A.
Actors should ideally remain in masks during rehearsals. If masks need to be removed for any reason, other protections (such as plexiglass barriers) must be deployed.
Going for Picture
Slating should be at least six feet from any actors. If the lens or space does not allow for that, a pan over to the slate should be used instead.
Immediately prior to “Action”, a callout for “MASKS OFF” and/or “PLEXIGLASS OUT” should be added.
For “MASKS OFF”, the actors remove their own mask. If the shot doesn’t permit them to keep the mask on their person (i.e., in their hands or in their pocket), they should put the mask into a ziploc bag with their name on it and place it in its own basket until after the setup. PD is responsible for managing the baskets.
If hair and makeup needs to make an adjustment due to the masks, this should occur swiftly at this moment.
Immediately after “Cut”, a callout for “MASKS ON” and/or “PLEXIGLASS IN” should be added. PD hands bag with mask back to the actor and the actor puts their own mask back on.
2D escorts First Team from set back to the green room and the crew returns to set to build the next setup.
Departments should sanitize equipment throughout the day during free moments, especially anything to be handled by others in the department.
Boxed lunches should be delivered to the team spaces for each department, so as to avoid having people congregating around a single lunch table.
Since masks need to be off for eating, extra precaution must be taken. Eating outside with maximum distance between people is recommended.
Staggering the start time for lunch for different departments is recommended, if the schedule permits.
Staggering the start time for lunch is required if physical distancing is not possible at the location.
After lunch, the Producer makes sure that high-touch surfaces get a sanitizing wipe down and each department sanitizes heavily used items of equipment.
END OF THE PRODUCTION DAY
1D makes sure that camera wrap happens no less than 60 minutes before company wrap, to allow sufficient time for loading out and cleaning the location.
2D escorts actors from set back to green room.
Sound Mixer instructs actors on how to remove lavaliere mics, and sanitizes them.
Actors change out of wardrobe, preferably in a single-person occupancy changing room. PD places any wardrobe supplied by the production in a secure bag to be laundered if used again. If actors need to remove their masks, the changing room becomes a Zone A space.
Each department should clean equipment during wrap.
Equipment should be reloaded back into the truck in a prescribed sequence. Only one crew member is permitted in the back of the truck at a time. Physical distancing must be observed at all times.
Doors Down Meeting should ideally be performed outside. If the space does not permit all crew to congregate with adequate physical distancing, the crew may divide up into departmental groups for separate, smaller doors down meetings.
2D clocks out crew, and collects and wipes down walkies.
2D keeps access to location restricted until last crew member has left.
The plan for sanitizing the location at company wrap must be completed before the 2D leaves the location.
All crew must attend COVID safety training workshops and crew drills during pre-production. It is incumbent on all crew members to thoroughly study and practice these safety protocols in advance of production.
Casting & Rehearsals
In-person auditions and callbacks are discouraged. If an in-person audition should take place, doing the audition outdoors is recommended, and face-covering and physical distancing rules must be observed.
Casting local actors is encouraged, to reduce the risks and complications of bringing in people from outside of town.
For rehearsals, face-covering and physical distancing rules must be observed for all involved. Actors are not to be closer than six-feet without a face covering during rehearsals.
Students are encouraged to have more rehearsal time with actors, to minimize the amount of rehearsing during the production day.
Favor virtual scouting to minimize in-person scouting.
As we develop scripts, it’s going to be important anticipate all the things that might elevate safety concerns during production. At the very least, any element in a script that gets flagged as a potential safety concern will require additional work during pre-production and production, in order for there to be a robust plan in place for the safety of the cast and crew. It’s therefore a good idea to be: (a) thinking about how you’ll address potential safety concerns as you develop a script; and (b) imagining alternative versions of scenes with a lot of red flags, so that you have a viable Plan B in your back pocket that mitigates more of the safety concerns. Below is a guide to some of the more common factors that of which to be mindful when you’re writing a scene.
QUANTITY OF LOCATIONS
Be mindful of how many locations you are writing into your script. The more locations you need, the more time you’ll need to spend on safely scouting and prepping each location. More locations will also raise the likelihood of needing to do company moves during a production day, which will raise additional safety concerns.
INTERIOR vs. EXTERIOR
Interior locations are generally going to have more safety concerns than exterior locations. As you write, it’s worth asking yourself whether an interior scene really needs to be an interior scene, and what might it look like if it were conceived instead as an exterior scene.
CRAMPED vs. SPACIOUS
Small, tight, cramped locations where social distancing is difficult are generally going to have more safety concerns than large, open, spacious locations. As you write, it’s good to ask yourself if a scene necessitates shooting in a cramped location, or if there are ways to cheat it or change it. Bathroom scenes are a good example, which are usually too cramped for production, even under normal circumstances. Therefore, you’ll either need to: (a) have a rigorous plan for how you could shoot the scene safely in a small bathroom; (b) find a really large bathroom that you can cheat to look smaller, which will likely be hard to find; or (c) rewrite the scene so that it doesn’t take place in a small bathroom.
PUBLIC vs. PRIVATE
Public locations are generally going to have more safety concerns than private locations. If a scene needs to be shot in public location, it will likely take a lot of additional work during production to sanitize the location. It will also take a lot of additional work to control the space, so that you can have a closed set that’s not compromised by the presence outside community members. It’s also best to assume that certain kinds of public spaces are going to be a lot harder to secure, as people are going to be more hesitant about letting film crews invade their space.
DISTANT vs. LOCAL
On thesis films, we do allow shows to make requests to shoot at distant locations. There’s already an approval process for this, in which the show needs to argue why it is vital to shoot out of town and what the practical plan is. There will be an additional burden of responsibility during the pandemic to outline a robust safety plan too. And wanting to shoot in a COVID hotspot is certainly going to be less viable than, say, shooting in a remote location in the mountains.
QUANTITY OF CHARACTERS
Scenes with large quantities of characters (or extras) are generally going to have more safety concerns than scenes with small numbers of characters. As you write, it’s good to ask yourself whether you need that big party scene, or whether you can scale down the scope of it. If you do really need it, how will you shoot it safely?
AGE OF CHARACTERS
We need to be vigilant about protecting the health of all of the performers, but we also know that fatality rates for COVID-19 are higher among older demographics. Scenes involving older characters, therefore, are generally going to raise additional safety concerns. Be mindful of other COVID-19 risk-factors too as you write, especially if your choices about yours characters require actors who might fall in other groups with elevated risk (e.g., weakened immune systems, pulmonary disease, cancer, diabetes, sickle cell disease, obesity, pregnancy, etc.)
PROXIMITY OF CHARACTERS
Scenes with physical intimacy between actors will need special care and preparation. If it’s essential to the story, how much can you minimize it or cheat it, in order to best protect your actors on set? Would the scene still play well if the action was staged without the need for physical proximity?
ACTIONS IN THE SCENE
Certain types of actions in a scene are going raise more safety concerns than other types of actions. If the actions require actors to shout, cough, spit, or breathe heavily (e.g., due to stunts or other acts of physical exertion), those moments will require a robust plan for how to shoot it safely.
It’s also a good idea to be mindful of overall production scope as you write, because there will inevitably be some slow down during production in order to observe safety protocols. The more out-of-scope a production is, the more likelihood there will be of either: (a) not making your day; or (b) compromising safety by rushing too much. You’ll all be less nimble if you have to adapt to any surprises. To anticipate this, a few good questions to ask yourself as you write are:
Will the scene require extensive art department work?
Will the scene require extensive grip/gaff work?
Will the scene require extensive coverage/set-ups?
Having a smart plan for production in the COVID era starts with writing and development. You can reduce many risk factors simply by being mindful of what will be required to actually shoot the words on the page. Performing script breakdowns to identify potential safety concerns will be an essential part of this process.
BREAKDOWN EACH SCENE
Starting with the first draft of the script, answer the following questions for each scene, using the above document as a template:
Is the location interior or exterior?
Is the location a large/open space or a cramped/closed space?
Is the location public or private?
How many characters/extras are in the scene?
Will the scene require actors in at-risk groups (e.g., older actors)?
Are any characters in close physical proximity?
Do any actions require shouting, coughing, singing, or physical exertion
Will the scene require extensive art department, grip/gaff, or coverage?
ASSESS THE SAFETY CONCERNS
Using tips for writing during a pandemic as a guide, assess the level of COVID-19 safety concerns for each answer of the breakdown and then change the color of the answer according to the following criteria:
GREEN – Standard level of COVID-19 safety concerns
YELLOW – Warning of possibly elevated COVID-19 concerns
RED – Alert of definitely elevated COVID-19 concerns
Anticipating concerns and having a robust safety plan in place for production is of critical importance.
This starts with writing and development, reducing risk factors by being mindful of what will be required to actually shoot the words on the page.
Scripts and locations should also be locked sooner than usual, in order for each department to have sufficient time to develop a safety plan.
Tech scouts at locations will be a particularly crucial step in this process, to think through a plan for how the space will be used and how each day of production will run.
When we don’t keep production scope in check, we inevitably end up fighting the clock and safety measures get compromised as we scramble to make our day. To address this:
Each show will only be permitted to shoot at one location each day — i.e., no company moves during the course of a work day.
The 1st AD must also carefully plan the set-up schedule to budget sufficient time for extra safety protocols.
THE ZONE SYSTEM
Keeping the shooting location secure and organized is of vital importance.All shows must utilize a zone system to create controlled work areas and a closed set. The zone system is based on the physical spaces where specific activities take place:
ZONE A – UNMASKED-ACTOR SPACES This is a perimeter created for when performers need to work without protection. This is typically when first team comes in to shoot the scene and the set is cleared of all non-essential crew members.
ZONE B – ALL OTHER WORKS AREAS Anywhere else the production has a footprint is Zone B. This needs to be a controlled area with a secure perimeter that prevents non-approved people from entering the space. The only entry to this zone is through a reception checkpoint.
ZONE C – THE OUTSIDE WORLD This is everywhere beyond the perimeter of the production.
Students are encouraged to use the FSU Daily Wellness Check app and be tested for COVID-19.
If a student feels sick, they should not come to set or class.
If a student appears to be sick on set, the Shop Steward or the Producer should alert the Head of Production immediately.
By default, a six-feet distance between individuals should be maintained whenever possible.
This will need to be thought about carefully during pre-production to ensure that each location has enough space to allow for cast and crew to properly distance when they are building and shooting a scene.
In situations where physical distancing is not possible, the physical proximity should be kept to a minimum duration and an extra level of protection should be considered, such as a plexiglass divider, eyewear, or a face-shield.
Mask-wearing is required indoors at all times and outdoors when physical distancing is not possible. This applies to all cast and crew.
The school will have a supply of disposable masks available for each production. Cast and crew may wear their own masks if they are rated for preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Each production should designate an outside, mask-free area, with enough space for people to maintain physical distancing.
Exceptions: Actors may remove masks during a take or when they need to remove a mask for wardrobe, hair, and make-up.
The cast and crew should be frequently reminded — both verbally and through signage — to wash/sanitize their hands.
Key areas of the location should be sanitized throughout the day, including: frequently touched items, such as door handles; hard surfaces, such as tables and countertops; and any set dressing or props that the actors will touch.
Throughout the workday, each department should disinfect their equipment regularly.