Actors could be quarantined and extras replaced with CGI when UK films resume

A man dressed as Batman has his face wiped during filming at the Glasgow Necropolis, February 2020. (Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)

Actors flying into the UK to make films and TV shows could face health checks and a period of quarantine, while extras could be replaced with CGI to create crowd scenes under draft plans.

The British Film Commission has drafted the new safety protocols for the industry to follow to prevent the spread of illness when scripted productions are able to resume following the coronavirus crisis.

The Film And TV Production Codes Of Practice will be presented to the UK Government as a vision of how the TV and film industry can mobilise once lockdown measures are eased.

The draft proposals, which are undergoing a period of industry consultation, include having additional trailers brought on to sets to allow adequate social distancing, COVID-19 safer working induction training for all crew members, a dedicated COVID-19 health and safety supervisor, and health monitoring, isolation and return-to-work protocols for productions.

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Crew members could be required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and sets could be marked with two-metre markers to prompt social distancing.

Call times could be staggered and sets would be off limits to all but essential crew, with everyone else encouraged to work remotely, while those on set would be told not to share pens, phone chargers and other personal items.

Buffets at meal times would be replaced with single-serving, pre-packaged food, and touchless or foot-operated toilet flushes, taps and lights would be encouraged.

The use of extras and supporting artists could also significantly change, with real people replaced with CGI and green screen where possible, or supporting artists kept in place for less than 10 minutes if they are less than two metres apart, or even extras from the same household being used.

They could also be asked to wear their own clothes and do their own hair and make-up, if it was viable.

The period of consultation on the draft protocol ends at 12pm on 15 May, but the date for publication of the final codes of practice has not been established.

Films shooting in the UK but currently on hold include The Batman, Disney’s live action The Little Mermaid, and Reggie Yates’ directorial debut Pirates.