What Does Commercial Production Look Like In A COVID-19 World?

As discussed more broadly on LinkedIn, here are the protocols HEIST is planning to implement during pre-production, on set and in post-production as we look to keep our partners and our clients safe and healthy.   


Casting & Auditions

  • Schedule remote casting sessions and callbacks whenever possible.
  • Schedule in-person auditions and callbacks only when necessary
  • Space in-person auditions and call-backs further apart to avoid scheduling overlap 
  • Clean surfaces in physical audition spaces between each audition 
  • Distribute scripts digitally
  • Minimize the number of personnel working with actors
  • Offer all talent the option of a virtual audition 
  • Do not use props during auditions.  Actors can simulate props with a personal item (phone, etc) if need be.
  • Place partition between or provide appropriate PPE for actors during in-person group auditions.
  • Include wardrobe specs in the breakdown to increase the likelihood of being able to use the actor’s personal wardrobe.

Location Scouting

  • Prioritize professionally managed locations that can ensure hygiene and sanitation standards.
  • Request 360-degree photography and room dimensions from location owners and/or scouts to avoid unnecessary visits.
  • Director scout virtually when possible.
  • Self-drive when possible.
  • Consider new size and space requirements to safely stage crew and equipment while maintaining distance


  • Encourage talent to bring wardrobe options
  • Use virtual fitting sessions, if possible
  • Sanitize wardrobe prior to fittings or shoot
  • Encourage virtual participation by client/agency during fitting sessions

Pre-Production Meeting

  • Plan for virtual session/meeting unless in-person is deemed necessary
  • Digital pre-production deck shared with client prior to meeting
  • Review health and safety protocols with client, agency and department leads prior to day of filming.
  • Review and obtain client sign-off on propping/art, wardrobe, lighting and picture looks during meeting, if possible.  
  • Review shooting schedule and set clear expectations on time and process.
  • Enable and encourage virtual set monitoring for client and/or agency
  • Confirm client/agency attendees and health status, encourage virtual monitoring/attendance.
  • Request health check night prior to filming


Safety Guidelines  

Health Screening

  • Pre-shoot outreach to crew, talent and clients to confirm current health status – 2-3 questions will accompany the call sheet and response will be required
  • Hold crew and talent alternates in case of illness.
  • All crew, talent and agency/client will need to be pre-screened before walking on set. This will include a quick wellness evaluation, along with a temperature check. Anyone exhibiting mild or severe symptoms of COVID-19 is not permitted entry to set. A dry cough, fever, muscle pain and sore throat are considered to be symptoms of COVID-19. 

On-Set Hygiene

  • Production is responsible for frequent cleaning of contact surfaces – this includes: door handles, surfaces, bathroom fixtures, and any equipment handled by more than one person.
  • Professional cleaners will be on set before, during and after all productions. 
  • Alcoholic hand sanitizer will be made available at points of entry and in common areas.
  • Information regarding the risk of spreading COVID-19, and what behavior is expected from everyone on set will be made visible in common areas and discussed during morning briefing. 
  • Production will break crew for regular hand washing and sanitizing during production.
  • The number of crew allowed on set will be minimized to enable social distancing.
  • Agency and client are likewise encouraged to send the fewest possible number of representatives. Production should enable remote monitoring if possible.
  • Call times will be staggered, so each department arrives and loads in separately to prevent crowding.  
  • Departments will be kept separate as much as possible, and work will be performed in rotations rather than happening simultaneously.  
  • Access to set will be restricted and only a very small number of people (producer, 1st AD) will be able to move between departments. 
  • 3 layer surgical masks will be provided to ALL individuals on set and everyone will be expected to wear masks unless camera is rolling and they are performing.
  • Clear guidance as to how to put on and remove masks in a way that isn’t counter productive will be provided. 
  • Masks will not substitute for social distancing. 
  • Monitors will be provided to each department in order to enable social distancing
  • Use HEPA air purifiers on set, whenever possible

Individual Department Guidelines 

Catering/Craft Services

  • Wear PPE at all times when preparing or handling food.
  • Stagger meal times when possible.
  • Serve food in individual boxes.
  • Provide plenty of tables and seating (outdoors when possible) to allow for social distance.
  • Provide a washing station in close proximity to the meal area.
  • Provide only single-serve packaged condiments.
  • Provide individual, prepackaged portioned snacks and other food items.
  • Refill reusable water bottles without person-to-person contact, and without contact between bottle and dispenser.
  • Wash hands before entering the catering or craft service area.
  • No cooked or prepared foods in craft service.
  • Assign one person to distribute drinks.

Hair & Make-Up

  • Actors will do their own hair and make-up when possible.
  • PPE will be worn for the duration of person-to-person contact.
  • Provide 10 feet of space between make-up stations or provide a partition in between.
  • Use single-use brushes and applicators if proper disinfectant cannot be guaranteed.
  • Disinfect equipment in between uses.
  • Mix foundation, powders, lipstick, etc. on a separate clean palette for each individual.
  • Clean hairbrushes and combs with appropriate disinfecting solution.
  • Actors will wear a mask when possible (e.g. while having their eyes or hair done).
  • Only remove the actor’s PPE when essential.
  • Once made up, actors may consider a face shield (as opposed to a mask) to not disturb completed make-up.
  • HMU may handle the placing / removing of face shields on the actor (if the actor prefers).


  • Actors will provide their own wardrobe when possible.
  • PPE will be worn for the duration of person-to-person contact on set and when shopping for wardrobe.
  • Sanitize jewelry and glasses with appropriate, non-damaging cleaning solutions.


  • Handling of camera equipment should be done only by members of the camera department.
  • Equipment and cases should be wiped down and sterilized upon arrival to set
  • Avoid manual focus pulling if focus pulling is needed.
  • Minimize need for talent on set prior to performance.

Art Department

  • Get director feedback on all art and props during or prior to the tech scout.
  • Obtain approvals for all art/props from agency/client prior to day of filming.
  • All props must be sanitized before and after use.
  • Assume all set builds and/or set dressing must be completed prior to arrival of lighting or camera department on set.
  • Consider potential value of prep and strike days. This may be combined with location cleaning requirements.
  • Coordinate between Art and Wardrobe departments with regard to handling of jewelry, bags, etc.


  • Handling of grip and electric equipment should only be done by members of those departments (stingers, apple boxes, stands, etc. often supported by other departments).
  • Equipment to be cleaned prior to and after use.
  • Identify all necessary lighting needs and coordinate timing/plan with production, camera and art departments in advance.


  • PPE must be worn for the duration of person-to-person contact.
  • Disinfect Comteks before and after each use.
  • Label Comteks with the name of the user.
  • Disinfect Lav mics and transmitters before and after each use.
  • Replace Lav mounting components that can not be thoroughly cleaned.
  • Consider utilizing boom-only audio (as opposed to rigging Lav mics).

Talent – Actors/Extras

  • A temporary barrier will be used between actors while establishing marks and positions. Alternate shot set-ups, camera angles, lenses, etc. to allow for maximum separation.
  • Monitor the number of Extras required.
  • Provide ample space and infrastructure for Extras holding areas.
  • Provide a pen for each Extra to keep while completing paperwork.
  • Prep and execute talent paperwork digitally when possible.

Video Village

  • Enable a remote, virtual video village whenever possible.
  • The physical video village will be in a designated area that is only accessed by the client /agency team.
  • Audio feedback will be established between video village and set.
  • Chairs will be arranged 6 feet apart (when a physical video village is required).
  • Additional monitors will be provided to individual departments in order to facilitate social distance amongst crew.


  • Work tools will be assigned to individuals for duration of projects and/or individuals will be encouraged to use their own tools whenever possible.
  • Individuals will be required to sanitize their own equipment.
  • Gear for individual departments will be staged separately to avoid cross contamination, when possible.
  • Avoid direct handoffs (one person puts an item down, another person picks it up without proper sanitization).
  • No shared walkie talkies. Sanitize replacement batteries in between uses.


  • To minimize the risk of infection due to aerosol particles – we will prioritize ventilation of all interior spaces. Either by means of open windows or mechanical ventilation that is following the guidelines of the CDC. 



  • Enable remote/virtual sessions with appropriate software to avoid motion/sound delays.
  • Use postings platform that enables client to provide timecoded feedback, draw on picture, compare multiple versions and share as-needed.

In-Suite Sessions

  • Clean all surfaces prior to and following in-person sessions.
  • Use HEPA air purifiers in all rooms
  • Stagger arrivals to ensure social distancing 
  • Ensure social distance between all individuals during in-person sessions
  • Avoid groups congregating in common areas
  • Assign workstations and peripherals to individuals and disallow sharing of equipment