Filming during COVID
Because I am producing BLANCHE with SAG-AFTRA Union, I have to hire a COVID HSS Officer. While it has been a headache so far, I am very sincerely happy to have this precaution.
Currently, it has been just another check on my to-do list, with so many documents and reports to file and write. SAG requires a completed Health & Safety questionnaire, a detailed risk assessment report, and the COVID Officer's name and resume. I, as the producer, also have to receive negative test results from all cast & crew within days of our initial shoot date. Filming during COVID poses a lot of gray area - similar, I guess, to all activities during COVID. From hair and make-up to being on set, there are so many barriers and points of concern. With crew expected to wear masks at all times, this only presents a problem for the cast members; however, since BLANCHE was conceived with quarantine and COVID in mind, there is really just the one cast member for the majority of the film. This unique situation is considerably safer but also, there remains obvious obstacles considering we will filming indoors.
The paperwork with SAG has honestly been the biggest hassle of the whole production process yet, only because more than anything else so far, I have no leads on it. No one really has experience working under COVID restrictions. I have so many wonderful friends and colleagues helping and guiding me in my first film, but COVID is new territory for everyone.
The last thing I would want as the producer of this project is to make anyone uncomfortable, or worse, at risk. A lot of this pre-production work as been me deciding what I am capable and competent at and what I need to redirect and ask for someone else's expertise. And I am very happy to allocate the burden of safety and proper protocol to someone else much more knowledgable and proficient. The COVID Officer that is required by SAG is someone with medical background and also, has experience working on sets. Their job begins with inform me (as the producer) what to buy, in terms of PPE (personal protective equipment) and then, while on set, they are the first to arrive and the last to leave and they make sure everyone is safe and following proper protocol. Besides the fact that on set, this presence will elevate so much stress and responsibility for me, filming during COVID, I also am so excited about the idea that we will have a medical professional on set who will really create a safe environment for all the cast & crew.