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Filming on ‘The Batman’ and more set to recommence with new UK COVID-19 guidelines

Ben Arnold·Contributor1 June 2020·2-min read

A clapperboard is clicked as filming continues in Glasgow for a new movie for the Batman superhero franchise. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
A clapperboard is clicked as filming continues in Glasgow for a new movie for the Batman superhero franchise. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)

Filming of TV shows and movies in the UK is set to recommence, with the publishing of new guidelines published by the British Film Commission.

Movies like The Batman, which was filming in England and Scotland, Fantastic Beasts 3, and The Little Mermaid were abandoned in March as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

But countless other film and TV crews affected by the outbreak could now be heading back to work.

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A 44-page document – entitled Working Safely During COVID-19 in Film and High-End TV Drama Production – has been published, as part of a larger consultation on the state of the industry by the BFI.

Among the recommendations will be that actors will be encouraged to avoid filming face-to-face scenes where possible, to use their own private transport to and from sets, and for filmmakers to ‘avoid social crowd scenes’.

A man dressed as Batman during filming at the Glasgow Necropolis cemetery for a new movie for the surperhero franchise. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
A man dressed as Batman during filming at the Glasgow Necropolis cemetery for a new movie for the surperhero franchise. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)

Briefings and rehearsals with actors are also to be done remotely, with all possible work that can be carried out outside to be conducted as such.

All cast and crew will also have to adhere to daily coronavirus symptom checks, increased on-set hygiene, including regular hand-washing and sterilising of props, and adopting extensive social distancing measures.

As for practices which require close proximity, like hair and make-up, casts will be asked to do their own where possible, or ‘consider a procedure to limit time in the chair wherever possible’.

Read more: How will social distancing work in cinemas?

It follows news that emerged last week that new proposals regarding insurance for movie and TV sets are now in place, which will be vital for productions to restart.

Adrian Wootton OBE, the chief executive of the British Film Commission, said: “We believe this to be the most comprehensive, extensively-consulted on COVID-19 recovery production guidance in the world.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden added: “We’ve worked hard to support the industry through these difficult times, and I’m delighted we’ve been able to agree this step forward towards getting the cameras rolling safely again.”

“Patients are dying in ambulances waiting for treatment because hospital emergency rooms are overwhelmed. This is not a safe environment for in-person production right now.”© Netflix Filming on the third season of You has been halted. Another issue is that there is already the risk of stunt people injuring themselves on set, so production companies don’t want to add to the strain already on hospitals.

“Even putting aside the risk of acquiring COVID on set — a risk that we have done a great deal to mitigate through our safety protocols — on set production always poses some risk of injury, whether because of a stunt gone wrong, an equipment failure or a garden-variety fall,” said David White, SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director.

“Right now, with few if any hospital beds available, it is hard to understand how a worker injured on set is supposed to seek treatment.”

Filming is tentatively planned to restart on Jan 11, but it remains to be seen whether that is actually possible with the alarming increase in cases.

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