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Filming Ads Safely and Effectively Amid COVID-19

By Ken Kerry, Co-Founder, CEO and Executive Creative Director of Script to Screen

Since entering the COVID-19-dominated world, our clients have had to adapt to the “new business normal” and its safety concerns.   But more critically, we as a commercial production agency have had to scrutinize our processes and procedures when it comes to strategizing, creative direction and production in preparation for new-normal commercial shoots.

We have to also ensure that they conform to new safety standards and regulations, in an effort to help facilitate a healthy film set environment.

Here are just a few, based on CDC recommendations and guidelines from local government:

  • Upon arrival to set, please proceed to the station to have your temperature taken via infrared thermometer. If you have a fever of 100.4 or higher, you will be released for the day and we will pay your day rate.
  • Please endeavor to wear a mask or face cover at all times.
  • We encourage you to wear your own rated mask (or one preferably with a filter system), and bring any other protective gear as desired. Gloves, masks, hand sanitizer and other safety/health considerations will be available for use.
  • Please keep social distancing of at least six feet from each other as best as you can.
  • Do not shake hands or engage in any unnecessary physical contact.
  • Please wash your hands thoroughly and often.
  • A Production representative will be designated as Sanitary Supervisor to clean/disinfect surfaces at least 1x/hour.
  • Craft service will be pre-packaged/single serve snacks, fruit and waters.
  • Please use NEW gloves when handling any food, drinks or coffee from Craft Service. Gloves will be available at the Craft Service table. Please discard gloves when finished.
  • Please use respiratory etiquette, covering sneezes and coughs. Use a tissue and immediately dispose of it, followed by thorough hand washing. Please use your elbow to cover coughs and sneezes if you are unable to use a tissue.

Our clients have had to adjust from being present at shoots and participating in the process live while at the same time putting in place their marketing and advertising plans so they can get busy executing on their companies objectives. These precautions have allowed for less potential exposure and less down time for the businesses. This year, so far, only on two occasions have clients actually been present at shoots. With that said, our tech team has created and transmitted private YouTube links to our clients all over the country. This has allowed our clients to have eyes on the production process as well as valuable input and feedback in real time.  These measures have allowed us to be extremely productive, while assisting our clients to continue business as usual and advertise to grow their businesses.

Also, we instruct all shoot participants to please advise ASAP and do not come to set if they have a fever and/or have concerns that they may be infected with COVID-19. If they are unable to attend the shoot as a result, we will pay them the day rate. 

The interesting thing is we are still getting exactly what we set out to get with our shoots, only we have to do them with less people and tighter quarters.  We have made it a mandate to limit the size of production teams at our shoots because limits the potential of exposure.  We have initiated pre-production waivers and questioners about everyone’s personal health. We have brought on on-site medics to test crews at the beginning of the day and after as well as implemented routine sanitation breaks and numerous hand sanitizing stations throughout the sets and locations. There isn’t a corner you pass, where you are unable to get sanitized and feel comfortable on set. We have also taken away all self-serve lunch and snacks and have taken the steps to have everything single serve packaged and available at any time to the crew. 

The clear picture that this pandemic has revealed is a perfect storm that has hastened what I believe was on the horizon for businesses and consumers alike. We as consumers have embraced technology that has made our shopping experiences as friction free and pleasant as possible–We have been forced to adapt to new behaviors sooner than expected because of the stay-home initiatives and we have become comfortable with the idea of getting what we want when we want buy doing business directly with the companies from which we buy our goods and services. This shift in consumerism was going to happen anyway but the current climate has made it happen sooner. The real news here is that we as a society are not going backwards in our shopping behaviors. So, I strongly advise to businesses that creating a marketing message where you are educating, demonstrating and validating your points of difference directly to your customer is only going to continue to grow.   It would behoove them to be ready.  To do this, businesses are going to have to invest in commercials, content and other forms of video marketing in order to grab and earn their customers’ attention. With that reality, there are no limits to how you achieve all of this, because production agencies like us have adapted and put in place the proper protocols to be safe, respectful and extremely efficient.

Business still has to move forward and we all need to do our part to stay safe, but it doesn’t mean anything has to be compromised. In fact, what has manifested is a real sense of respect and caring for others’ health and wellbeing.  It seems crazy that we have to be put in this situation to adapt to common concerns and mutual personal respect, but if there is a good light to be shined, it’s that people are more caring and considerate of others.

And that’s a good thing!


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