Art Directors Guild Releases COVID-19 Safety Recommendations

Guidelines including remote working and remote meetings where possible.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

The Art Directors Guild (IATSE Local 800) has published an 11-page document of recommended department safety protocols for returning to work amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Previously submitted to IATSE, these are department-specific additions to the interim guidelines proposed by the AMPTP, IATSE and other participants in the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force, as well as the Safe Way Forward protocols.

In the new Local 800 document, the guild writes that "the judgment of department heads and their crews, in collaboration with unit production managers and assistant directors, will be considered when structural and logistic changes are made to accommodate the new working practices." It further asserts that "limiting crew size and/or attempting to combine jobs leads to inefficient, unsafe work practices. Department heads and their crews, in collaboration with line producers, UPMs and ADs, remain in the best position to manage the staffing needs and scheduling of their departments to achieve the quality and efficiency necessary."

The guidelines urge remote working and remote meetings where possible, and specify that primary consideration for remote working be given to graphic artists, storyboard artists, illustrator and previs artists, clearance coordinators, set designers and model makers.

Where possible, it also encourages electronic transmission of blueprints, drawings, samples and the like.

Virtual scouting and mobile video is recommended. When visiting locations for scouting, the team is encouraged to self-drive to avoid a crowded van, and limit the number of participants. Tech scouting is suggested in multiple, smaller groups.

Local 800 proposes a need to create more space between new sets for social distancing. It also wants to manage expectations, explaining that "with teams undertaking required safety protocols as they work in isolation, small groups or pods to complete their work on sets and locations, the time frame for set deliveries will lengthen." The guild suggests that this would therefore need to be considered when developing the production schedule.

Additional recommendations, specific to commercial production, are included in the doc. These include limiting on-set presence of the art department to necessary personnel such as the production designer, as well as using pre-dressed locations where possible.