Back To Set During COVID-19: Personal Kit
"On this first job back, I was working as a Camera Trainee for the final 2 day block of shooting for a feature film. I prepped my full kit bag and newly purchased (2nd Hand) hand truck for the job, as I would for a normal shoot, but with Coronavirus around there was more to do."
I was lucky enough to get back to working on set recently, and I wanted to write up what I learned from being on set with COVID-19 hanging over the production. In this article I will talk specifically about my approach to maintaining and looking after my personal equipment and kit on set. I would also recommend reading Evan Luzi's series of articles that he published recently on his website theblackandblue.com returning to set as a Camera Assistant you can find his first article here:
(A quick note, if you haven't checked out The Black And Blue you should do, I have read Evan's articles for years and I have learnt so much! I am sure I will mention him again in later articles.)
Before I get into the nitty gritty of the article I would also recommend taking the Screen Skills Coronavirus basic awareness on production training. This is a basic course but it offers a great starting point build an understanding of the risks, and solutions to working on set in a COVID-19 world. You can take the course for free from here:
PREPPING KIT FOR SET.
On this first job back, I was working as a Camera Trainee for the final 2 day block of shooting for a feature film. I prepped my full kit bag and newly purchased (2nd Hand) hand truck for the job, as I would for a normal shoot, but with Coronavirus around there was more to do. (I am planning a full article specifically talking about my full kit soon)
When prepping for this first job back, I decided to use plastic bags to wrap all the loose items in my kit bag. This is not the most environmentally friendly option however I managed to reuse some older bags that would have been thrown out. By wrapping loose items in my bag, this made disinfecting items at the end of the shoot much easier as I could simply wipe down the plastic bags rather than the individual items. Other items in the the bag were already kept in pouches or boxes which could be wiped down after the shoot. I also pre-prepared items such as tape by wrapping my camera tape around 35mm cores which I do even when there isn't a global pandemic, but it meant that I would not have to handle my full roles of tape on set.
Sharing personal equipment with other crew members should really be a no go now, and different sets will have different protocols on this. However there will be times that you either forget not to lend someone a tool or there is an urgent need to. When this happens it is important to remember to sanitize the item before handing it over and especially important to sanitize it when it is returned to you. If this was not possible to do in that moment on set I had a dedicated bag to store items that had been shared, which would be thoroughly cleaned either during a break on set, or after wrap.
Another thing that I learnt during this shoot was to, where possible, limit the amount of personal kit that you bring onto the set. On the first day of shooting I brought my full kit bag and trolley, and this was very useful to have on set, however I learnt that throughout the day as a trainee I did not need my full kit on hand all of the time. On the second day, we shooting in a house with limited space to store equipment. Because of this I filled my run bag (small bag that I always keep near the camera) with the essentials to reduce the need for my full kit. This also limited the amount of equipment that needed to be sanitized at the end of the day. On this occassion I had easy access to my car so I could run and grab anything that I needed that I didn't have on hand, but on other shoots this will not be the case so it is important to take into account what the situation is on each day of shooting.
Something else that I was relieved to carry in my kit bag was a set of camping cutlery. This meant I had my own cutlery for meal times. This may seem excessive but it is another way to limit the chances of spreading the virus for yourself and others on set. (Also it is far nicer having a metal set of cutlery than having to use wooden or plastic ones and also reduces your waste on set.) Another thing that is essential is to take your own bottles and mugs for drinks. On the set I was working on, only the COVID-19 Runner was allowed to make hot drinks for crew members to reduce the number of people at crafty. I took a couple of flasks with me so I didn't have to use any on set dispensers again reducing the changes of spreading or catching the virus.
In addition to my full kit bag and run bag, I have a separate COVID Kit box filled with, sprays, wipes, gloves, bin bags and spare masks. This is great to have on hand or in the boot of your car just in case production haven't got enough supplies for the set. I just kept this on my trolley or in the boot of my car.
This is only from my first 2 days back on set, so these ideas may change and evolve in the future. The most important thing is to learn and be adaptable, whilst also being safe, and this is a process that everyone is learning. Let me know if you have any other ideas regarding maintaining your personal kit in a COVID world.
Thanks for reading.