Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Film Crews Coming to Humboldt with COVID-19 Protocols

Posted By on Wed, Jul 15, 2020 at 6:08 PM

At the end of June, the Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commission announced Humboldt was back open for the movie business. And while screens at movie theaters have once again gone dark in California, a pair of small production crews are set to film for a week each on the North Coast this month, with more scheduled for fall.
click to enlarge The crew of Ava DuVernay's 'A Wrinkle in Time' in Sequoia Park in 2016. - FILE
  • File
  • The crew of Ava DuVernay's 'A Wrinkle in Time' in Sequoia Park in 2016.
One project, which is fitness related, is paused due to an injury, according to Film Commissioner Cassandra Hesseltine. The other, a short film, is on schedule and includes a COVID-10 protocol compliance officer among its team of fewer than a dozen.

In an email to the Journal, Hesseltine wrote that the film commission consulted with a registered nurse to come up with a set of guidelines "based on the state, unions and public health requests." It includes testing prior to arrival, symptom and temperature checks, protective gear and hygiene practices. The usual craft services spreads will be replaced by boxed meals. "We are asking the productions to self-isolate themselves and not mingle with the local community; we ask the same of our local community to protect everyone's health while we try to help the health of the economy," she wrote.

The same protocols will be in place for the four larger projects on the schedule for fall — all based on books and featuring "noteworthy" actors and directors, for those readers inclined to speculate. Hesseltine noted this is a marked uptick in interest in filming in our region that may be due to hesitance to venture out of state during shelter in place.

Those crews will be larger, too. "Regular testing will be the main difference," said Hesseltine. "If any of the crew were to get sick, then our local public health will advise whether they can stay in the area for treatment or will need to leave the area for somewhere that can handle the hospital bed load (i.e. San Francisco)."

And instead of working as one intermingling team,  the film commission is requiring the crew to work in "pods" and asking that they isolate themselves from the local community. (Your celebrity selfie hunt will have to wait until after the pandemic.)

Read the full press release below:

For immediate release: June 30, 2020 Contact: Nate Adams nate@hdnfc.org 707.3862574
Redwood Region Open for Filming

The Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commission is excited to announce the region’s reopening for film productions. In coordination with the local health department, Sherriff’s office, counties and other permitting agencies, the commission has helped create a framework to allow filming to resume in safe manner. In considering both the health and safety of locals, as well as the film crews that will be visiting the area to film, protocols have been developed to ensure that resuming filming will be undertaken with a preponderance of caution and consideration of all stakeholders.
The film industry, with guidance from the state department of health, studios, and unions, has developed a white paper, outlining guidelines for set safety protocols for all filming in relation to Covid-19. The California Governor’s office declared a resumption of filming on June 12, 2020. During the shutdown of filming due to Shelter in Place orders, the film commission has been in contact at all levels to explore options to ensure the safety of locals while balancing the need for the renewed economic activity with the return of filming in the Redwood Region.
To address concerns of health and safety, the film commission is now required to be in contact with every production coming to the region for filming to ensure the compliance with any and all guidelines and regulations, prior to receiving a film permit and while the production is working in the area. Health compliance officers are now required on crew to aid in health safety tasks such as track temperature, ensure testing of crew members as required, observe proper quarantine observance and to be in touch with the commission with any and all concerns. Local cleaning crews will be hired by productions to ensure proper cleaning and sanitization of film sets and locations for cast, crew, and locals alike. Film crews and production teams will shelter in place within local hotels, limiting contact and exposure to ensure the safety for themselves and the local public.
The Film Commission anticipates two small projects in the month of July, giving filming in the Redwood Region a soft opening to practice the new protocols. Currently, there are several feature films inquiring about filming in the area during the fall.

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Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

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Jennifer Fumiko Cahill is the arts and features editor of the North Coast Journal.

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