On Monday, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) updated its guidelines and recommendations for safely returning to work on commercial shoots. Many of these changes seem to come in response to a letter signed by over 300 IATSE members asking for stronger protocols on commercial shoots compared to film and television production. Some of the changes may also come in response to the death of Assistant Director John Nolan in August after contracting COVID-19 sometime in July after working on a State Farm commercial in Texas.
AICP president and CEO Matt Miller said in a statement, “AICP launched these guidelines knowing they would continuously evolve as production restarted around the country. By emphasizing sensible procedures and safety protocols, we can all work together to ensure the safety and well-being of all cast and crew on a set. Having produced hundreds of commercials under the previous five versions of the guidelines since late April, we all continue to learn. We’ve proven our commitment to the business and to each other and have proven our ability to adapt.”
Although taking temperature of cast and crew wasn’t seen as a “reliable screening indicator” at first, it’s now stating that it’s good to take regular temperatures of those on set: “While this is not a failsafe measure, it can be an effective way of identifying a symptomatic person who did not report a fever at the time of reporting via screening or check in.”
The Los Angeles Dept. of Public Health requires COVID-19 testing on all film and television productions although shorter-run commercials were exempt from that testing.
The AICP, whose members account for 85% of all domestic commercials aired nationally, still says that the polling of cast and crew for COVID-19 symptoms before they show up for work is the best way to prevent the on-set spread of the virus. “Currently, reliable testing with timely results for active cases is not readily available on-site, and varies geographically. Therefore, symptomatic polling is the most reliable screening process.”
The latest version of the AICP guidelines is the sixth version which includes new planning recommendations and considerations for advertisers and ad agencies, including recommendations for travel and safety protocols from a number of IATSE locals, including Cinematographers Guild Local 600, Sound Local 695, Prop Local 44, and Make-Up & Hair Stylists Local 706 in Los Angeles and Local 798 in New York.
The updated guidelines have been posted with the following introductory language (slightly trimmed):
“As we intelligently and cautiously ramp up live action commercials, we continue to provide practicable and safe approaches to all phases of production and post production. To this end, this document has been created and updated, and will continue to be.
“A constant since version 1 is the emphasis placed on remaining diligent in placing an unprecedented amount of thought and planning with steadfast attention to hygiene and sanitation to maintain safe and healthy work environments. By proactively articulating our resolve toward this goal, we hope to continue to inspire the confidence of all participants, as well as civic leaders and regulators. We want our industry to function with full confidence that we are doing so responsibly, taking into consideration every angle of keeping all personnel on our sets and in our facilities, safe.”
“Depending on the specifics of the work location, the composition of employees, and the overall conditions dictated by the rules of civil authorities, practical adjustments will have to be made using individual judgement. It is safe to assume that the way we approach work has forever been changed. With leadership and planning, we can approach this from a place of innovation rather than concession, finding new ways to work safely, efficiently, and effectively.”
“All facets of our business must ensure the level of safety for all involved, by all involved, and should never be compromised. We must be mindful and realistic about factors such as time and cost that will be affected by necessary diligence. While we are constantly developing new practices to dovetail with outside entities, communication and understanding of these new practices must foster confidence with all parties who are part of the process. Other entities that influence or establish employee-based rules (unions, OSHA, etc.) and government authorities (Federal, State, Local or Foreign) that will have varying degrees of oversight regarding how we congregate in offices, facilities and on-set will continue to challenge our approaches (e.g. size of groupings allowed). These factors will evolve, as will our practices, but the basic premise of working with the safety of individuals in mind, and respect for all those in the surrounding environments in which we work will be a constant – and will inherently prefigure any developing requirements.
“One thing is for sure: planning to work with the fewest number of people in close proximity to each other will not only put evolving rules at the forefront of our minds, but it will create a sense of confidence amongst participants that safety measures are in place, and are of paramount concern to us. These new practices will require patience and mutual respect. Each company will implement the following guidelines, as works best for differing scenarios. Experience by our membership leads to responsible behavior that will ultimately become second nature for all personnel.”
“For the foreseeable future, we will keep offering insights and commonsense guidance, with the goal of maintaining the responsible, productive industry we are so proud to be a part of.”
You can read the full updated guidelines on the AICP site.