Meet Your New Best Friend On-Set: The COVID-19 Compliance Officer
Now that we are getting through our first wave of the coronavirus, everyone in the production industry is eager to transition from being safer at home to safer on set. Say hello to your new best friend on every film set - the COVID-19 Compliance Officer (C19CO), officially known as The Health Safety Supervisor (HSS).
As someone who regularly plans and produces photoshoots with my company Mecca Creative Co, and who teaches women with online stores how to shoot their own content on a budget, I was eager to learn more about what this new position means for all of us in the production industry. I sat down with Amy Davis, producer, stylist, and certified COVID-19 Compliance Officer (C19CO) for Film, Television, and Commercial Productions, to get an inside look about exactly what a C19CO does, what recommendations she has for safe production sets, and how she feels these new regulations are affecting the industry.
So, Amy, tell us, what is a COVID-19 Compliance Officer? It’s a newly designated position that production companies are now required to have on set at all times. C19COs are responsible for establishing and enforcing COVID-19 safety protocols; hiring, coordinating and training the staff; monitoring compliance for all film, music video, and commercial sets; and they have the authority to pause any production if a breach threatens the cast or crew's health. The goal is to save money and lower liability while protecting human life.
Does a C19CO have to be medically trained? It’s not technically a set medic job and doesn’t replace the need for medical professionals onset (if a set requires one). With all of the new regulations, a C19CO is now considered a necessary crew member, and production sets are required to one officer for every twenty people.
What does a C19CO have to do prior to a shoot? As a C19CO, I typically provide a document in advance addressing HR considerations, symptom identification, and screening, info for management and employees, regulations for food and meals, as well as requirements for PPE, supplies, and signage.
What does a C19CO have to do while on set? We are the first people onset - marking the ground, creating 6 feet safe zones with blue tape, making sure things are disinfected, etc. We’re responsible for the morning check-in; temperature testing; distribution and collection of the health questionnaires; and enforcement of set safety protocols throughout the day. We are also the last ones out - taking the tapes off and disinfecting. We’re present during all working hours to make sure everything is safe!
What research and training did you have to do to become an officer? I’ll continue learning and getting certifications as they come out, currently I hold the following certifications: Safe Sets COVID-19 (Level A) for the Film and Video Production Industry - COVID-19 Awareness; OSHA 360 Certificate COVID-19 Awareness; and COVID-19 Health Safety Officer Certificate Programs.
As a stylist AND a C19CO, what do you feel is the most challenging part about adhering to the guidelines while on set? As a stylist, it takes significant organization skills and extra time to prepare the wardrobe correctly for set. As a shoot producer, the challenge is to come up with a plan that complies with the state guidelines or best practices and allows the shoot timeline to run smoothly and efficiently.
Adhering to the new guidelines affects the social atmosphere on set. What was once a lively, social environment now feels very straight and to the point. The end product is the same, but the social aspect of shoots is now very minimal. At the moment, as a producer, walkie talkies in different colors are a girl's best friend!
Overall, the guidelines create a higher cost overall - shoots take more time and cost more money. Providing the required equipment for each person on set adds to the budget and following the required guidelines extends the length of a shoot.
What tips can you give others who might want to plan a group photo shoot in the midst of the pandemic? First, I recommend that everyone complete the Safe Sets InternationalTM COVID-19 (Level A) Certificate so everyone has a basic understanding of the guidelines. It’s a basic course and provides a certificate upon completion of an exam. I recommend every production member take the course so everyone is on the same page about the new protocols and procedures that will need to be implemented. You must also hire a C19CO for any photoshoot, film set, etc. These certified officers help to ensure that guidelines are being followed and liabilities are extremely reduced.
You recently planned a safe set shoot - did the guidelines have any effect on the type or style of shoot you planned? No, not at all. The show must go on ;)
And there you have it! While these new guidelines have definitely put a wrench in our usual production plans, luckily C19COs like Amy give us the tools we need to continue creating the art we love and doing it in the safest, lowest-liability way possible. If you’d like to hire Amy for your next production, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime: lights, [disinfect], camera, [disinfect], action!