May 5, 2020

SA Film Sector Opens for Business under Level 4 Restrictions

The South African film, television and commercial production sectors have waited with bated breath since the national lockdown to find out how and when business can resume.

Yesterday, 4 May 2020, the Commercial Producers Association announced the commercial production sector has opened its doors under Level 4 COVID-19 Restrictions.

“The CPA is pleased to announce that our industry is, once again, open for business!” the statement said.

The South African Government has permitted filming under level 4 regulations from 4 May 2020, however, there are certain restrictions that have been put in place. These are strict industry protocols that must be adhered to at all times. The number of people on set has been limited to 50, and according to the CPA, these rules are “non-negotiable and need to be followed under all circumstances”.

The CPA has published the CPA COVID-19 Protocol for use by members, clients and suppliers. Clients and suppliers should please note that the CPA has no jurisdiction over non-members. Therefore due care should be taken to ensure that all productions comply with all requirements.

“We look forward to our industry getting back on to its feet in the coming weeks and thank everyone who has been involved in the process. It has truly been a great team effort and we appreciate all the work that has gone into it,” the statement concluded.

Broadcast and other large-format productions need more clarification of regulations

According to a statement by the Independent Producers Organisation (IPO), some of the confusion around who may return to work has lifted following a directive published yesterday. “However, we caution members that the situation is fluid and that we are working with information that is sometimes hard to interpret. We are doing our best to navigate through these tricky waters, and we will keep you updated as new information/clarification come to light,” the IPO Exco said.

“Our understanding at this time is that productions commissioned by broadcasters are permitted to return under Level 4 – subject to the directive. Productions that wish to resume must adhere to these directions and speak to their respective broadcasters regarding the protocols to be followed, which broadcasters must approve.”

The directive expressly states that each broadcaster must work closely with the respective production companies and the relevant industry bodies to determine the most appropriate “return to production” strategy and feasible implementation dates. Implicit in this is that return to production should not commence until this has taken place.

What is not clear, however, is the status of projects that may not have a broadcaster attached. Further information may be forthcoming in Minister Mthethwa’s next briefing on the status of the DSAC’s Relief Fund. “If not, we will continue engaging with DSAC to get clarity on the way forward for the rest of the industry.”

IPO releases protocols and additional documentation to assist film producers

Today the IPO has distributed and posted the Health & Safety Protocols on their website. These have been developed in association with SASFED and its member bodies, as well as indemnity and privacy template documents.

The IPO encourages members to get them signed by their freelancers in cast and crew positions. “Together with the indemnity, we encourage members to share these protocols for maintaining safety on set. It seems only fair that if we are asking people to indemnify productions that we have to, at the same time, commit to keeping them as safe as is practicable.”

They added that, because cast and crew will be required to sign the indemnity documents, producers have to ensure that they are equally reassured that the Protocols will be implemented as agreed. “We, therefore, have to note that no modifications to these documents should be made,” the IPO Exco concluded.

Last updated at 20:25 on 5 May 2020 to include IPO Heal & Safety Protocols and additional notes on these documents.

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