Student Handbook

FV COVID-19 On Campus Film Production Guidelines

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On-Campus Production, Version 3.  March 18, 2021

CalArts, the School of Film/Video, and its students must comply with federal, state and county guidelines during COVID-19. In particular, the Los Angeles County Health Department requires CalArts and other colleges to be in strict compliance with their guidance for higher education institutions. All of the guidance here is based on those regulations and advice.  

As we have all experienced, government guidance and rules change as conditions of the pandemic change. Please be sure you’re using the most recent version of these FV COVID-19 Film Production Guidelines. The date and version are at the top of this article. 

Given the changing conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, CalArts will maintain regular contact with local government and health officials to ensure proper protocols are followed and guidelines are updated regularly. It is also the student’s responsibility to stay current with guidance, rules, policies and laws that govern the safety of the public. When making production plans, please err on the side of caution. When in doubt, contact Production Services. The safety of students, faculty, staff, the public and yourself outweigh any project plans.  Please keep in mind that despite all reasonable measures you may take, there is an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 when you are in a public place or if other people are present.

Film/Video students need to comply with all the guidelines below, as well as the COVID-19 amendments to the CalArts Student Life Policies.


For on campus production, the following procedures are in place. If your project does not fall within the guidelines below, or you cannot follow them, you must contact Production Services to discuss further.

A. Los Angeles County Higher Ed Guidelines for On Campus Production

  1. Film productions are limited to 10 or fewer people, including cast and crew.
  1. All productions should take place outdoors as much as possible.
  1. LA County asks for daily COVID health checks on campus. To access the CalArts campus and Film/Video spaces, you must complete the LiveSafe app each day before you come to campus. 
  1. All cast and crew must wear face masks and maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet as much as feasible. Appearances on camera without face masks must be limited to one person and productions should not include singing or playing of wind or brass instruments. If more than one person is to be on camera at a time, all must be wearing face masks.
  1. Signage must be posted in all production spaces, including outdoors, with clear guidance on six feet of social distancing and wearing face masks. Please see Signs to Post on Set

B. CalArts Guidelines for an On Campus Production

  1. All productions must fill out the Student Project Application at least two weeks in advance.
  1. Students, crew, and cast are encouraged to ask questions and suggest solutions to enhance the safety and productivity of the production.
  1. Curbside equipment pick-up and return only. No cage access other than curbside.
  1. All students must create a COVID-19 safety plan for their production. Please see COVID-19 Safety Plan Topics, COVID Safety Plan Example, and Example of Floor Plan.
  1. Appropriate and adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must be provided to any crew or cast who work on your production. You are responsible for this, even if there are only two people. Disposable masks should be replaced each day and reusable masks should be cleaned each day.
  1. If more than one person is working on a production, you must designate a crew member or individual who is responsible for implementing the COVID-19 safety plan. 
  1. In the interest of the health of yourself, your cast and crew, you must limit the duration of workdays and consecutive workdays. Workdays should not exceed 10 hours, with a minimum 12 hour turnaround from wrap to next call. For longer shoots, days off are also necessary. Shoots may not exceed 6 consecutive days.  
  1. No audience permitted at any time except time-based reservations for installation. Please see page Installation Viewing.
  1. Maximize circulation of outdoor air by opening windows and doors, or using fans, air conditioning or other ventilation methods.
  1. During COVID-19 conditions, on campus productions are not allowed to include minors, crowds, physical contact/intimacy or SAG actors

C. Production Development

Each project and corresponding production is unique. Time management and advance prep are necessary. As you prepare your production, consider the following.

  1. Consider what types of onscreen actions are planned for this project, such as specialized props, locations, stunts, etc., and be sure you have a strategy to accomplish them.
  1. Size of production, including number of crew & performers, locations, vehicles, etc.
  1. Requirements of the production, including special equipment, time constraints, food allergies of participants, restroom access, scheduling conflicts, etc.
  1. Scheduling COVID-19 safety measures, which may extend preparation and shoot time.

D. Crewing Up / Casting

  1. Communicate (zoom, phone call) with potential crew about COVID-19 production protocols.
  1. Work with people you trust or who are recommended by people you trust.
  1. Be upfront and communicative about the safety protocols that will be in place for production.
  1. Casting should be conducted virtually via self-tape, or online video conference

E. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

MASKS – Medical masks, cloth masks and face shields reduce the transfer of saliva and respiratory droplets to people close to the wearer. It is the student’s responsibility to provide masks during production if there are two or more people working together. There should not be a common central pool of shared face shields or face coverings

GLOVES – Gloves should be worn as infection prevention PPE when touching potentially contaminated commonly shared equipment is unavoidable and equipment cannot feasibly be disinfected (e.g., lighting/ electrical cables etc.) Non-medical (work) gloves shall be worn as usual when appropriate.

HAND HYGIENE – Hand hygiene is a cornerstone of infection prevention. Given the potential concern about transmission of COVID-19 via contact, enhanced hand hygiene measures are critical. Hand washing with soap and water is considered more effective than hand sanitizer in preventing the spread of COVID-19. 

Hands should be washed for at least 20 seconds or sanitized:

  • Upon arriving in a space on campus. 
  • After blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing. 
  • After using the restroom. 
  • Before and after eating or drinking. 
  • After handling shared equipment or objects. 
  • After cleaning or disinfecting equipment, tools, or workspaces. 
  • At other appropriate times throughout the workday.

F. Disinfection and Maintenance

CalArts Facilities will clean spaces in the early morning each day. Students are responsible for cleaning the spaces they use and will adhere to the following recommendations: 

  1. Appropriate disinfecting methods and supplies should be available in all spaces. If needed, in addition to the production’s supplies – cleaning products can be retrieved at the Facilities Management office.
  1. High-touch surfaces should be wiped down periodically with disinfectant. Examples of high-touch surfaces are tables, doorknobs, countertops, phones, faucets, etc. A cleaning schedule should be developed as part of your safety plan.
  1. Each production should designate specific individuals to perform high touch wipe down, with an emphasis on shared spaces and equipment. 

G. CalArts and Film/Video Space Procedure

  1. Maximum occupancy should be posted in every Film/Video space. If not, determine maximum occupancy by measuring your shoot space to determine how many crew/cast members it will fit with six (6) feet of physical distancing.  Depending on the map, grid or design of space, marked floor areas showing six (6) feet of social distancing are necessary.
  1. Ultimately, the size of the space will dictate how many people can occupy it at any given time.  So even if your crew/cast is 8, there may only be 4 people allowed in that space.
  1. All students, faculty and staff, crew and cast must always wear masks in CalArts or Film/Video spaces.
  1. Maximize circulation of outdoor air by opening windows and doors, or using fans, AC or other ventilation methods. 
  1. Appropriate disinfecting procedures, methods and supplies will be available in CalArts spaces and developed procedures must be followed. High-touch surfaces — including tables, doorknobs, countertops, phones, faucets, controllers, etc. 
  1. There are no visitors allowed at any time. The only exception is Installation Viewing below.

H. Installation Viewing

  1. You must schedule arrival and viewing times for audience members. Only one person at a time may view any installation. Anybody waiting must wait outdoors and follow CalArts COVID guidelines. 
    • Determine the time it would take for a single audience member to view that installation. 
    • Schedule a passing period of 10 minutes between viewings, to ensure ease of maintaining physical distancing. 
  1. Consider setting up a Google form, or use Doodle/ Calendly / another web-based scheduling platform to manage appointments efficiently.
  1. The audience scheduling should be part of your safety plan. 

I. Insurance

Please see Production Services for certificate of insurance (COI’s) for vendors and locations and to check if your production requires insurance.

J. Props, Costumes, Accessories, Wigs, and Other Specialty Items

Due to the inability to clean many of these objects, special care should be taken.

  1. Hand props should be cleaned and disinfected before and after use.
  1. Hands should be cleaned before and after handling props, accessories, and other items.
  1. Personal equipment (such as tools, headsets, microphones, and radios) should be cleaned and disinfected before being issued and then at least once per day.
  1. Equipment, such as radios/walkie-talkies, should be issued to a single cast or crew member and used exclusively by that cast or crew member for the duration of production. 
  1. Personal items or equipment that must be shared, must be wiped down with disinfectant between uses and hand hygiene should be performed after handling.
  1. Personal Kits for each crew member are encouraged. No sharing of tools, tape, cell phones, gloves, food, beverages, or any other person’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  1. Whenever possible, minimize the use of paper. Everything digital.
  1. Consider digital alternatives to petty cash to minimize the need to handle paper money.

K. Food and Beverage

COVID-19 is unlikely to be spread through food or beverages; however, catering, crafts service and eating within workspaces present several unique challenges. 

  1. Those responsible for preparing and distributing food must clean their hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer prior to beginning food preparation and/or distribution and regularly thereafter. 
  1. As face coverings cannot be worn while eating, adequate eating space must be provided to ensure extended physical distancing (of more than 6 feet) can be maintained during meal periods.
  1. Handwashing facilities and/or hand sanitizer must be readily accessible at the entrance of any designated eating area and should be used when entering and leaving the area. 
  1. All eating surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected before and after use. 
  1. Meals and snacks should be served in individually packaged or wrapped portions. Avoid shared communal trays or bowls. Especially for craft services.
  1. No unwrapped food or snacks can be left out.
  1. Eating utensils should be disposable and individually wrapped.
  1. Provide clear guidance for individuals who choose to bring their own food and drinks into the production area.
  1. Cast and crew who bring their own food are encouraged to bring food that does not require refrigeration or heating/microwaving. 
  1. Individuals should not leave the production area to obtain food during production, in order to minimize contact. Food should be brought or provided. 
  1. Avoid using or sharing items such as bottled condiments or salt and pepper shakers. These items should be disposable and single serve. 
  1. Drinks should be individually packaged or, if drinks are to be dispensed from a water station, soda fountain, coffee machine or similar equipment, receptacles should not come into contact with dispensers.
  1. If food is to be delivered, one or more individual(s) should be designated to receive the delivery. As always, appropriate PPE should be worn when interacting with the delivery person and hand hygiene should be performed after handling the delivery. 

L. COVID–19 Safety Plan Topics

As each production will create a COVID-19 Safety Plan based upon the best practices in this document, below are some of the questions that will be asked, and you will need to know.  Production Services will assist each production with its COVID-19 Safety Plan.  

  1. You must know the measurements of the space and figure out 6 feet of social distancing in all directions. You must mark the floor (or ground, if outdoors). This to be done for each location and shown on a map/grid/drawing that is printed out for production members. 
  1. Please explain how you will keep air circulating in interior spaces ie. fans, open windows, etc.
  1. Please identify the person (s) on your production who will oversee COVID-19 safety procedures. This person (s) will be responsible for documenting the following:
    • Schedule for wiping down high touch areas through-out the day
    • Schedule for crew/cast breaks to go outside and remove face masks
    • Schedule for cleaning props
    • How costumes will be cleaned and handled
  1. Please explain and list your PPE and how it will be implemented.
  1. Please explain your close proximity working conditions for crew/cast.
  1. Please explain how you will be communicating COVID-19 information to crew/cast.
  1. If you are casting actors, please explain your casting process.
  1. For installations, please explain how you will schedule audience viewing.
  1. Please explain your meals, craft service and food & beverage plan.

M. Consequences

Now more than ever, it’s necessary to be mindful of your health and safety and everyone else’s. This is always true in filmmaking, and even more so during COVID-19.

If you have not complied with the guidelines above, the consequences will be as follows below. The Dean will determine the exact course of action. In more serious cases, the Office of Student Experience will be notified, which could lead to a warning, probation, suspension, or dismissal from CalArts.

  1. Equipment reservation will be terminated and recalled to the Cage.
  1. Access to Cage equipment will be suspended for one month minimum, possibly longer if the violation is serious.
  1. You may also be subject to suspension of other School of Film/Video privileges, including studio reservations, lab access, and/or the FV Technology Access Program.
  1. Any footage produced during the commission of a violation of these policies may become ineligible for academic credit or Showcase consideration, as determined by the Dean and faculty members.

Thank you for being safe and thoughtful.

Please contact your mentor, faculty and/or Production Services with any questions or concerns.

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