The Australian screen production industry released COVID-Safe Guidelines to help get the industry back to work.
The Guidelines have been developed by the Australian Screen Sector Task Force, comprising the Australian Film Television & Radio School (AFTRS), Screen Australia, the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA), Screen Producers Australia (SPA), State and Territory Agencies, Guilds, ABC, SBS, Ausfilm and major production companies, to support a safe return to production in Australia. The Guidelines have been drafted in consultation with the Commonwealth Department of Health and global law firm, Clyde & Co.
AFTRS CEO Nell Greenwood said, “The number one priority of the Task Force is the safety and well-being of production teams and those who work with them. The Guidelines have been an incredible collaborative effort across the industry and are a significant step in getting screen production back on the road to recovery.”
Responding to the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19, every production will need to draw up its own personalised COVID-Safe production plan that identifies the specific control measures needed to mitigate the risks COVID-19 poses to its personnel, given each production’s location, scale, and content.
Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said, “These Guidelines are an essential tool to help the Australian industry get back to the business of creating world-leading screen stories. Whilst each production will need to have their own individual plan, we hope that the COVID-Safe Guidelines will help inform practitioners on what they need to be considering before they get back up and running. The Task Force has been unified in their passion to get the industry returning to work as soon as it is safe to do so, and this is a necessary and invaluable resource.”
The Guidelines detail both mandatory controls, informed by the latest government medical advice and State WHS legislation, and a detailed, department-by-department range of control measures that each production can draw on to create its own COVID-safe plan, covering guidance on the number of people on set, shooting in close proximity, use of personal protective equipment, hygiene control measures, medical advice, and travel and transport.
MEAA Chief Executive Paul Murphy said, “The safety of everyone working on productions is paramount as the industry prepares to get back to work. While these Guidelines have been drawn up collaboratively and with the best intentions of all stakeholders, the industry will need to be hyper-vigilant to ensure they are implemented thoroughly. This is a time for employers, government and union members to work together to ensure that workers are safe as we create the entertainment Australians love.”
The Task Force has consulted widely with industry and will continue to do so. More than 300 MEAA members attended a recent Zoom meeting to provide input and feedback into the draft and SPA consulted with approximately 60 of its member businesses during including Fremantle Australia, CJZ, Every Cloud Productions, Aquarius Films, Porchlight Films, and Ludo Studio. Production companies with projects either in or about to return to production, such as Fremantle Australia, Endemol Shine, and See-Saw Films, also contributed to the Guidelines with their experience of managing and planning COVID-safe productions.
Chris Oliver-Taylor, Fremantle CEO Asia-Pacific, said: “The industry has worked collaboratively so that we can all get back to doing what we love—creating, producing and shooting TV shows. Fremantle, through its production of Neighbours, has been leading the world in returning to a safe production environment and we have been thrilled to work with AFTRS as we all look to restart the industry, which can only be a great thing for audiences and the economy.”
The Guidelines are a ‘live’ document that will continue to evolve alongside continuing advice and as industry sector, best practice develops as project return to production.
“These Guidelines mark the first step in our planning for a safe resumption of work, so we can get back to bringing our great Australian stories to the world. Australian audiences have turned to their screens for comfort, entertainment, and education during this difficult time and the industry behind our screen stories is ready and keen to return to work as soon as it is safe to do so,” said SPA CEO Matthew Deaner.
“As a nation, our response to controlling this virus has been unparalleled, placing us in a unique position to not only return to work on local productions but also to attract international productions looking for a safe and experienced home base. I thank everyone, including our members, for their contributions to this critical piece of work, and I look forward to seeing it put into action as our workers return to set,” Deaner added.
The Guidelines and associated resources are now available on the Screen Australia website.