Toronto’s COVID-19 lockdown means bare bones crew for TV and film productions

What the lockdown means for crews working on productions, plus resources to help keep your staff safe

Photo by Chris Centeno

With Toronto on Monday undergoing a 28-day lockdown to fight against the increasing number of COVID-19 infections, TV and film production in Canada’s largest city will be slowed down as health experts and government officials warn of a second wave.

For production crews, it means that only essential crew members will be allowed on-set with physical distancing being strictly enforced and increased sanitation performed in between takes. Shows that used to have a live audience can continue shooting without spectators present. We’ve seen it in talk shows like The Social and Cityline, where the live audience is replaced by virtual viewers.

During my last movie shoot for the film Scarborough, where I held costume designer duties, our production was fortunate enough to have a COVID-19 coordinator routinely checking temperatures and staggering call times to avoid crowding on-set.

Holding for background, cast and crew were located in separate areas to ensure proper physical distancing were followed at all times.
Holding for background, cast and crew were located in separate areas to ensure proper physical distancing were followed at all times.

Our lunches and snacks were individually packed to minimize unnecessary handling of food. PPE masks, gloves and sanitizers were also provided for crew members entering shoot locations. Crew shuttles were limited to a maximum of three members per vehicle while contracts were signed digitally in advance.

One of the most challenging aspect of the shoot was wearing a mask at all times especially in July when temperatures were soaring upwards to 35 degrees. But knowing that everyone followed the rules meant that we were able to shoot uninterrupted despite a pandemic raging on.

That said, most licensed film sets now must have a COVID-19 coordinator to comply with provincial and municipal protocols that ultimately protect crew and actors on set.

Masks were worn at all times indoors with the exception of eating and drinking during lunch and dinner breaks

According to the City of Toronto, it’s important for Torontonians to “follow the advice and orders of public health experts” to help protect lives.

“We have to stop this virus now to save lives, protect our most vulnerable and, ultimately, to protect our economy,” says Toronto Mayor John Tory. “We can’t have a healthy economy and build back better if people are sick and continue to get sick in greater and greater numbers.”

The City of Toronto has some great health and safety guidelines to ensure compliance when planning a shoot that contains approved public health directives during COVID-19.

Another great COVID resource is from the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (published in June 2020) that outlines best practices on-set to keep actors and crews safe.

For more information regarding Toronto’s current COVID-19 measures, please visit www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19.

2 thoughts on “Toronto’s COVID-19 lockdown means bare bones crew for TV and film productions

  1. This was super interesting! You hear about the impacts of covid but I don’t think I have heard about TV and Film crews and what it means for them during the pandemic! I really enjoyed learning a bit more in an area I am not familiar with.

    Like

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