A note to my crew about going back to set during a pandemic


As Illinois begins to slowly reopen, talks of going back to set are happening more and more. I know everyone has wildly different views on when the right time to return to set is. By no means are my thoughts applicable to everyone but for the crew I regularly work with I wanted to jot down a few thoughts.

I will be carefully considering individual productions as they come in but I generally feel it’s not safe to return to set yet (in Chicago) and I do not want to ask crew to put themselves at risk.  (Sidenote: I do think there are ways to be safe while on set at this point in time I just think those scenarios are limited. For example: Food and product shoots with photographers that have their own spaces will have an easier time keeping safe than lifestyle shoots on location.) Going forward, I will turn down any jobs that I feel will not allow me the time or budget to take all proper safety precautions.

This article The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them has been circulating and I think it’s worth a read.


For those of you itching to get back to set – there is buzz of a few small shoots going around. But I have also heard from a Chicago art buyer that they aren’t discussing any shoots before Fall. Just like you – clients and ad agencies will vary in their comfort level and tolerance for liability when going back to set.

I am sure that I will return to work before I feel 100% comfortable because I don’t see this going away for quite some time but I would like testing to be more widely available as well as daily new cases in IL to be much lower than they currently are. I would also like to be able to supply my crew and sets with enough PPE and cleaning supplies which are currently still in high demand and can take some time to source.

That being said, I have been preparing my arsenal of PPE and cleaning supplies. See the growing list here. I am not ordering large quantities of anything at this time because I feel this is irresponsible.

Shoots will of course be complicated by many things right now – including, but not limited to, not being able to properly, or safely, shop for props and wardrobe. For any shoots that require shopping for props or wardrobe – I will make sure we have enough time to safely source items and discuss limitations with my stylists and clients prior to moving forward with a shoot. I will also have masks and gloves for stylists that need to shop.


Policies and Safety Procedures

I am still working on my policies and safety procedures for set. I will share these with my crew when they are ready. I know other producers are working on their policies as well. The Chicago Film office will be putting guidelines out the first week in June.


Standard Procedures for all Productions

While reading through the crew surveys I realized how important it was to have standard procedures across the board. Hopefully the guidelines the Illinois or Chicago Film Office guidelines can be common practice.

I think having a somewhat standardized information sheet that is sent to crew when asking them to hold and / or before booking crew could be very beneficial. This could include things such as # of people on set, PPE available, location of shoot and safety procedures so that crew can feel confident in the hold or booking they are taking.


On a personal note…

To anyone I work with frequently that I haven’t personally reached out to yet, I apologize. The first month or so of lock down I was not in a great place emotionally as my husband would march off to work to perform surgeries on people that usually hadn’t been tested for Covid19 and without an N95 to protect himself if they happened to be positive. The testing and PPE availability in his hospital, and generally in IL, have improved greatly since those first few weeks.

That being said, I know I am coming from a different place than many people and will act accordingly. I will be slower to get back to set.  I will take every safety precaution I can – as I know most of my colleagues will as well. I have taken and passed the Osha Infection Control course put together for productions and will continue to educate myself on best practices. Covid-19 Infection Control Production Course

I encourage you to talk to anyone who hires you about what they will be doing to keep you safe. Likewise, if you have thoughts or ideas please share these with the people you work with. And please know that even if you haven’t heard from the people who normally hire you, many of us are working on our policies and procedures to keep everyone safe on set so they’re ready to go when it’s time.

If anyone reaches out to hold you for a shoot with little or no mention about what they will be doing on set to keep you safe – ask them to provide this information and don’t be afraid to say no to jobs that you don’t feel comfortable taking.

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