Filming during a pandemic

WHNT Interns

Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic caused many professional films sets to shutdown and student film sets were no exception. But with new guidelines put in place to help assure the safety of the cast and crew, and the increasing availability of the vaccine, film sets are beginning to open and students are able to film.

William Geiger, is a senior at the University of North Alabama, majoring in Cinematic Arts and Theatre. While Geiger is trained and capable of running many different positions on set i.e.: 1st Assistant Director, Grip and Electrical, or Director of photography, his main position is Head of Sound Department. As the department head, Geiger, is the main sound recorderist in charge of audio leveling, cleaning dialogue, and capturing ambiance.

Onset safety

 One would think the pandemic may mean fewer people working on set to help with social distancing, but it is actually the opposite. Because of the pandemic, the guidelines for on-set safety have been modified. Many professional film sets now have a COVID-19 supervisor, whose sole purpose is to make sure all COVID guidelines are upheld.

Crafty, who’s in charge of handling the food, and is traditionally only run by 1-2 people, has now been broken up into 3 departments within itself. The first department is responsible for picking up the food and bringing it back to the studio, the second department is responsible for individually bagging food for cast and crew members, and the third group is in charge of distributing the individually bagged food to everyone.

 Professional film sets are also requiring all cast and crew members to be tested 1-3 times a week as well as complete some sort of COVID-19 compliance training course.

Film students at the University of North Alabama follow similar procedures. All crew members are required to complete the Georgia Film Academy COVID-19 compliance training course, one week before the designated filming date, and It is recommended that students working on practicum projects get tested at least once, 48 hours prior to arriving on set.

This would be Geiger’s first time on set following the new COVID safe guidelines and understandably there were a few slipups. On the first day of filming an actor removed their mask in between takes before the camera started rolling and posted it on social media. This nearly caused the whole film set to be shut down as this was seen as a violation of COVID-19 safety guidelines by the head of the film department.

After the incident on the first day, Geiger, reread the COVID safety manual cover to cover and potentially prevented another incident.

The manual includes rules for while on set as well as after shooting is done for the day.

Some of the crew members were planning on going to the bar after shooting, which would have been another guideline violation. Group activity before the last day of shooting is off-limits.