When the world shut down in March amid the seriousness of the global pandemic, we had to modify how we ran the company to keep our team, clients, and crew healthy.
As things became more evident and the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency revealed new orders, we started to look for ways to return to shooting with safety in mind.
We felt (and still do!) that video production, an important marketing tool during “normal” times, would become an essential strategy for many businesses, big and small, as they found new yet effective ways to reach their customers and workers who are stuck at home.
That said, we had to find new ways to work within the COVID-19 landscape.
Here’s what we are doing to keep our video production services as safe as possible:
1. Appoint a “Safety Officer”
Considering Production Manager Lucy Nazareno is Atomic Productions’ answer lady (we mean that in the best possible way), it made sense to have her coordinate and oversee our COVID-19 safety measures. She’s taken on the challenge and stepped up in huge ways to run a tight ship.
After earning a Barbicide COVID-19 Certification for the Professional Beauty Industry Training, Lucy developed our new policies, makes sure that they’re followed on-set and in our office, and ensures we have the needed PPE for a safe working environment.
“Ultimately, my job now is to keep the crew, clients, actors, and myself safe,” she says.
A significant part of that, she adds, is screening everyone coming on set.
“I take everyone’s temperature, but maybe they’re one of those asymptomatic people. So, I ask them three screening questions, like if they’ve been exposed to anyone who has COVID. If the answer is yes, then they can’t come on set. That’s just how it works.”
2. Educate our Staff
While Lucy is the company’s lead expert, the entire Atomic Productions staff has undergone training and earned certifications from Safe Sets International so that we’re running safe sets.
The online training taught us more information about COVID-19, how to properly take someone’s temperature, which screening questions to ask, how to wear a mask properly, and how to stay safe in various scenarios. Further, our crew learned best practices around cleaning equipment and tools properly.
“We had our team trained in Safe Sets International, and they all have their COVID certificates. I need to be able to tell clients are staff knows all the rules to be safe on set,” Lucy explains.
3. Develop On Set Guidelines
While keeping the Atomic team up to speed with updated information and requirements was important, communicating to our clients, partners, and actors was a must. While a new topic, reliance on communication is very much in line with our philosophy for a smooth video production project
To that end, Atomic delivers its on-set guidelines via PDF to anyone working with us. Our guidelines follow the best practices put together by the California, San Francisco, and Los Angeles film commissions and the Production Equipment Rental Group (PERG).
“It’s important to us that we follow the rules so that we can continue to shoot while keeping everyone as safe as possible,” Lucy says. “The PDF lets people know where we’re coming from, and we’ve heard that it puts everybody’s mind at ease knowing that we have a plan.”
4. Coordinate On-Set Safety Efforts
Setting out on-set expectations is one thing. Making sure we’re maintaining a clean, healthy, and safe environment is another. That’s where Atomic’s credentialed crew comes in.
At the beginning of the day, we talk to our actors about coming to set camera ready with hair and make-up done as much as possible. Blow dryers are now verboten, considering their prime movers of potentially dangerous air droplets. Likewise, on-set ironing is kept to a minimum.
On the occasions where we have to do a person’s make-up or touch them up on set, we put on gloves and face shields in addition to wearing a regular face mask, plus we use as many single-use items as possible. And anytime we need to mic up a talent, we put on disposable gloves and sanitize the microphones once we remove them from talent.
Lighting, audio, and camera crews know that they have to maintain their departments. “We’re careful to avoid cross-contamination,” Lucy reports, “and if a grip needs to bring a stand over to props department, we’ll wipe it down with disinfecting wipes before the next department uses it. The goal is to produce more awareness on our sets and avoid cross-contamination between departments.”
So far the clear communication and on-set-awareness have been helpful for us all, allowing us to get back to shooting and help our clients.
5. Stock up on Supplies
None of this would be possible without access to PPE and cleaning supplies, which has not been easy. Luckily, we had a lot of sanitizing products long before the pandemic, so now we buy PPE and cleaning supplies as we find them. The most challenging product to find is a disinfecting spray like Lysol.
Many of the products we need and create Safety Kits (gloves, masks, disinfecting wipes, disinfecting spray, goggles, and hand sanitizer) are starting to become easier to find and arriving quicker. However, there is a lot of shopping around and in-person to locate some of these items that are still hard to find or cannot be purchased online.
Many of these costs have been absorbed into our budgets, but there may come a time when we’ll have to discuss, especially on larger projects where more supplies are required. We recently did a multi-day shoot, and we used nearly an entire box of 200 disposable gloves, a whole can of Lysol spray, lots of Clorox cleaning spray, countless rolls of paper towels, multiple packs of disinfecting wipes, and lots and lots of single-use make-up brushes. It’s definitely a new era for production!
Our main goal is to serve you and keep us all safe in the process. We’re continuing to watch, learn, and evolve our processes by keeping up to date on the fluid rules and restrictions for our industry.
As the light at the end of the tunnel becomes brighter, we foresee many businesses turning to video marketing and advertising in the post-COVID world. So, let’s get your business’ video production off the ground.