Adrian Wootton addresses “very detailed” BFC Covid-19 guidelines

The BFC has given itself until May 15 to complete its consultation.

By Geoffrey Macnab 7 May 2020

Adrian Wootton addresses “very detailed” BFC Covid-19 guidelines
Adrian Wootton

The British Film Commission is scrambling to have its Covid-19 Codes of Practice for film and TV production ready by the end of May.

This is the comprehensive document addressing everything from quarantining of foreign crew to catering and transport arrangements, coronavirus safety training, and social distancing rules as production in the UK looks to reboot after the lockdown.

The regulations will give what Adrian Wootton, chief executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, calls “very detailed, very granular production proposals covering on set, off set, and location filming.”

They will also provide international producers with very detailed advice on what they need to do to bring cast and crew into the UK

“We are feeding into government with these proposals. We are having very detailed dialogue. What we are doing is hopefully getting the government to sign off on our protocols and proposals so that they’ll be endorsed by the Health and Safety Executive and by Public Health England,” Wootton said.

The BFC has given itself until May 15 to complete its consultation with industry and stakeholders including Pact, Bectu, the streamers, production companies, the studios, and some European partners. The aim then is to collate, sift, and review all the responses, to take government guidance, and to amend the guidelines accordingly.

“I’d like to think before the end of May will have a set of finalised, published proposals,” Wootton said. “We are moving at lightning speed. We have put these proposals together in just under three weeks. It’s a massive consultation exercise with health and safety officers, producers, line producers, you name it, the people who have been inputting into this. We think the proposals are robust but there are still sections which need elaborating.”

Wootton is promising that the regulations will be “as good as anything available in the world. Our intention is for [the regulations] to be absolutely the best standard we can possibly deliver so that people can have confidence and say, ‘OK, this gives me a road map for making stuff in the UK.’”

Adhering to the regulations is likely to add extra costs to productions. As yet, no announcements have been made about the recovery of these extra costs. It is conceivable, though, that public support measures may be put in place for covering some of the extra expenses.

Industry website Deadline published a draft version of the guidelines yesterday. Below are some of the recommendations.

Coronavirus training

  • All crew must take coronavirus safety training two days before a shoot

On-set supervision and enforcement

  • Every production should have a COVID-19 supervisor, who has the authority to stop work if it becomes unsafe
  • There should be daily briefings on best practice, with posters hung on walls and online tools made available
  • Extra security should be hired to manage exit and entry points on set

Testing and health checks

  • Cast and crew should undergo pre-shoot health screenings and have their temperature checked twice a day
  • If a member of the team displays coronavirus symptoms, they should be sent home or to their accommodation on private transport

Social distancing and mental health

  • Cast and crew should observe two-meter social distancing rules. Where this is not possible, the time people spend together should be limited and they should work back-to-back or shoulder-to-shoulder, rather than face-to-face
  • People should avoid physical contact when greeting each other, including fist and elbow bumps
  • Producers should make extra provisions for mental health, offering support for heightened stress and anxiety


  • Airlines operating appropriate social distancing and hygiene measures should be favoured
  • Domestic public transport should be a “last resort” and vehicle sharing should be limited

Quarantining for foreign cast and crew

  • Cast and crew from outside the UK should be quarantined and tested following government guidelines
  • Communication with those in quarantine should be done remotely through phone or video calls

Cast and crew on-set

  • Cast and crews should be organised into numerous cohorts so that departments are separated
  • Shoots should build in extra preparation time to allow departments to work alone, such as set dressing and lighting
  • Shared equipment should be sanitised
  • Access to shared working spaces should be limited
  • Remote communication tools should be used wherever possible


  • There should be no communal food preparation, storage or serving
  • Single-use foods and eating utensils should be encouraged
  • Mealtimes should be staggered

Workplace hygiene

  • Staff should be dedicated to cleaning all work areas
  • Communal spaces such as toilets and dressing rooms should be deep cleaned daily
  • Waste should be disposed of safely
  • Sets should be locked down when not in use
  • Personal and hired equipment should not be shared and where this is unavoidable, it should be regularly disinfected

Crowd scenes

  • Crowd scenes should be replaced with CGI where possible to reduce the number of supporting artists on set
  • Extras should be kept socially distanced, should not be facing each other and should be on set for as little time as possible
  • They should do their own hair and makeup where possible

Art department and set dressing

  • Art department crew should be given more time to sanitise props, furniture, and set dressings that come into contact with cast and crew
  • The handling of key props should be limited to the relevant actors
  • Props and decorations should be purchased online where possible

Costume department

  • Fittings should take place off-set or remotely where possible
  • Physical contact should be kept at a minimum and those involved should use PPE
  • Costumes should be hung in plastic wrappings when not in use to avoid cross-contamination

Hair and makeup

  • Keep hair and makeup stations two meters apart, and ban food and drink
  • PPE should be used to set up stations, tools should be allocated to cast members and single-use applicators will be important
  • Products should be sealed and disinfected when not in use


  • Locations should be of sufficient size to allow for social distancing and be isolated from the public
  • Locations should be scouted by one person and deep cleaned at the end of each day of shooting
  • Dressed sets should be quarantined for 72 hours before a shoot

This article originally appeared on our sister site ScreenDaily

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