• June 5, 2020
Actors Equity chair Jennifer Ward-Lealand says working on set will have to change. Photo: supplied
Aotearoa’s film industry is almost back up and running, with some hoping new Covid-19 protocols might change its culture for the better.
Casts and crews are working with ScreenSafe to establish a set of strict health-and-safety protocols in light of the pandemic.
An initiative of the Screen Industry Guild, ScreenSafe is an industry-wide collaboration promoting health and safety in the New Zealand screen sector.
A source from inside a major production says: “The biggest thing is the whole crew wellbeing. Are they going to take that on?"
ScreenSafe guidelines have a section on wellbeing, highlighting the need for a production’s awareness of anxieties and stresses the crew or cast might be feeling.
“It makes people realise, well if I don’t have my health I’m nothing, and [therefore] your livelihood is nothing,” says the industry insider, whom TWN agreed not to name.
Wellbeing on set can be challenged by the 12, sometimes 14-hour days film contractors endure.
“Everyone is wanting some form of work-life balance, but it’s just whether we can achieve it, and you can convince the studios to budget in for less hours on set,” they say.
New Zealander of the year Jennifer Ward-Lealand, who is also chairman of Actors Equity, and an on-set intimacy coordinator, says: “New Zealand is going to be up and running with production earlier than many people and we need to be ahead of the game with this stuff.”
Ms Ward-Lealand works with actors on sets where intimacy coaching is required, and is aware that protocols where an intimacy coordinator’s role stops, and a medical officer’s starts, may have to be adjusted.
It is likely on-set intimacy between actors will be challenged by the new Covid-19 protocols.
“If they're going to bring an intimacy coordinator in, I'm going to be looking for ways to show intimacy, and it might not be to do with lip-to-lip,” says Ms Ward-Lealand.
All productions are expected to register with ScreenSafe to help the Ministry of Health with contact tracing and WorkSafe with monitoring of production sites.