Film Permits Under COVID-19

CONDITIONS FOR FILM PERMITTING UNDER THE SAN FRANCISCO ORDER OF THE HEALTH OFFICER No. C19-07m

DATE OF ORDER: November 3, 2020
(Updated 11/12/2020)
 
San Francisco Film Commission is issuing permits to productions seeking to engage in film and media production within San Francisco in accordance with the Order of the Health Officer provided productions are able to meet the following guidelines:
  1. For Film and Media Productions covered by the September 21, 2020 “COVID-19 Return To Work Agreement With DGA, IATSE, SAG-AFTRA and Teamsters/Basic Crafts” (the “Return to Work Agreement”). These productions may operate subject to compliance with all of the terms and conditions set forth in that agreement, except that:
    • The cast, crew, and other personnel on location is limited to the fewest number of personnel needed (up to a maximum of 25 people in one location). Productions may have more than 25 people working on their project but a maximum of 25 can only be in one location at a given time. A location is defined as an area where the production is staging, prepping, filming, or wrapping.
    • If the production is complying with the pre-employment testing requirement by using two rapid tests conducted within 48 hours before the start of employment, as provided in Section 2.a.i.(3) of the Return to Work Agreement, the two samples must be collected at different times:
      1. one 24-48 hours before the start of employment and
      2. one within 24 hours before the start of employment.
  2. All Other Outdoor Film and Media Productions: Outdoor film and media productions that are not covered by the Return to Work Agreement may operate, provided they adhere to the following conditions:
    • The cast, crew, and other personnel on location is limited to the fewest number of personnel needed (up to a maximum of 25 people in one location, subject to compliance with the social distancing requirements set forth in Section 8.o of the Order (page 26). Productions may have more than 25 people working on their project but a maximum of 25 can only be in one location at a given time. A location is defined as an area where the production is staging, prepping, filming, or wrapping.
    • The film or media production must ensure this COVID-19 symptom and exposure screening handout is completed for all cast, crew, and other personnel on each day of the production as outlined by the Social Distancing Protocol and its Attachment A-2
    • The production may not permit any person who answers “yes” to a screening question to enter the location;
    • Face Coverings must be worn at all times, except:
      1. as specifically exempted from the face covering requirements in Health Officer Order No. C19-12c, issued on July 22, 2020, as that order may be amended from time to time
      2. while filming outdoors as long as the person remains at least six feet from other talent, crew, and other personnel, and the public at all times, or
      3. while personal services (e.g., makeup or hair) are being provided, in which case the safety precautions set forth in Section 1.11 of Exhibit A to Health Officer Directive 2020-23b, as that directive may be amended or revised, must be followed;
    • Because singing and playing wind or brass instruments can transmit particles farther in the air than breathing or speaking quietly, singing and playing wind or brass instruments is not allowed outdoors unless: 
      1. the individual is at least 12 feet away from crew, cast, and other personnel, and the public, and the individual uses a face covering for singing or a mask or other fabric over the wind instrument’s bells or openings where air/sound exit, or
      2. the individual is at least 30 feet from all crew, cast, and other personnel, and the public; and
      3. the production must comply with the social distancing requirements in Health Officer Order No. C19-07m
    • Cast, crew, and personnel arriving to/from a location must wear facial coverings and maintain 6 feet distance, to the extent possible, from each other while in transit. If traveling in a vehicle, windows should be left open whenever possible to increase ventilation.

 

Indoor Film and Media Productions

Indoor film and media productions that are not covered by the Return to Work Agreement may operate, subject to the following conditions:

  1. The cast, crew, and other personnel on location is limited to the fewest number of personnel needed (up to a maximum of 25 people in one location, subject to compliance with the social distancing requirements set forth in Section 8.o of the Order (page 26). Productions may have more than 25 people working on their project but a maximum of 25 can only be in one location at a given time. A location is defined as an area where the production is staging, prepping, filming, or wrapping.
  2. The film or media production must ensure this COVID-19 symptom and exposure screening handout is completed for all cast, crew, and other personnel before they enter the location on each day of the production as outlined by the Social Distancing Protocol and its Attachment A-2.
  3. The production may not permit any person who answers “yes” to a screening question to enter the location.
  4. Non-vented N95 face coverings must be worn by all cast, crew, and other personnel at all times for interior locations except as provided below:
    • Individuals who are excused from the face covering requirement; as specifically exempted from the face covering requirements in Health Officer Order No. C19-12c, issued on July 22, 2020, as that order may be amended from time to time.
    • Cast members may remove face coverings for personal services (e.g., makeup or hair) being provided, in compliance with the safety precautions set forth in Section 1.10 of Exhibit A to Health Officer Directive 2020-30b, as that directive may be amended or revised;
    • Cast members may remove face coverings while filming if all of the following conditions are met:
      1. All other crew and personnel in the room must wear a non-vented N95 mask to provide maximum protection;
      2. The production must increase ventilation as much as possible, including by implementing at least one of the following ventilation measures:
        • All available windows and doors are kept open. (Doors and windows required to be kept closed for fire/life safety purposes are exempt. Make sure open windows do not create falling hazards especially for children.)
        • HVAC systems are fully operational
        • Appropriately sized Portable Air Cleaners 
        • If due to smoke or other conditions the production cannot implement any of those measures for a period of time, face coverings cannot be removed until ventilation measures can be reinstated; and
    • The production must adhere to the following testing requirements: 
      1. If the shoot is scheduled to last one or two days, the cast member(s) who will be removing their Face Coverings must receive a negative nucleic acid diagnostic test for COVID-19 within 72 hours before the shoot starts.
      2. If the shoot is scheduled to last between three and seven days, the cast member(s) who will be removing their Face Coverings must receive a (a) negative nucleic acid diagnostic test for COVID-19 within 72 hours before the shoot starts and (b) a negative nucleic acid diagnostic test or rapid test every other day starting on the third day of the production
      3. If the shoot is scheduled to last more than seven days, the production must submit a plan to the Health Officer for pre-approval, as discussed below.
      4. All testing must be done using tests that are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration or by the California Department of Public Health. 
      5. All processing of tests must be conducted by a lab that complies with Order of the Health Officer No. C19-10, including that the lab must meet the requirements to perform testing classified as high complexity under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (“CLIA”) of Section 353 of the Public Health Service Act (including but not limited to having a CLIA waiver to perform such tests). Any lab that processes tests must also submit all results (not just positive results) via the State of California’s California Reportable Disease Information Exchange (“CalREDIE”) system or any replacement to that system adopted by the State of California. 
      6. The production must maintain a log of testing for all cast members who will be removing their face coverings including name, date tested, type of test, and test result. The log must be retained for 12 months and be made available to SFDPH upon request.  
  5. High touch surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected frequently using procedures effective against the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in accordance with CDC guidelines.
  6. The production must comply with the social distancing requirements set forth in Section 8.o of the Order (page 26). 
  7. Because singing and playing wind or brass instruments can transmit particles farther in the air than breathing or speaking quietly, filming of cast singing or playing a wind or brass instrument is prohibited indoors unless the individual is in an isolation booth or in a separate room and the camera is operated remotely. Sufficient ventilation of the space being used must occur for at least 15 minutes before other personnel enter the space.
  8. Productions may have craft service and catering at indoor locations, subject to the following requirements:
    • The production must notify cast, crew, and other personnel that they are strongly encouraged to take food items to-go and eat outside or in areas away from other people and at least six feet apart from each other; 
    • Where feasible, productions should provide an outdoor area where cast, crew, and other personnel can eat their meals at least six feet apart from each other; 
    • Seating in areas designated for eating must be at least 6 feet apart; 
    • In areas designated for eating, the production must limit the number of people in those spaces to the lesser of 20% of the maximum occupancy or the number of people who can safely maintain at least six feet of distance from each other at all times;
    • No buffets of self-serve food and beverage stations are allowed—only individually boxed meals and snacks may be offered; and
    • Productions should consider staggering meals to lessen the number of people eating in the same area. 
  9. Cast, crew, and personnel arriving to/from a location must wear facial coverings and maintain 6 feet distance, to the extent possible, from each other while in transit. If traveling in a vehicle, windows should be left open whenever possible to increase ventilation.
Companies that wish to proceed with film and media productions that deviate from these conditions may submit to Film SF and the Health Officer a proposed plan detailing the sanitation, social distancing, ventilation, testing, health screening, and other procedures (for example, creating quarantine bubbles) that the production will implement to minimize the risk of transmission among participants. Plans must be submitted to film@sfgov.org. Subject to the advance written approval of the Health Officer or the Health Officer’s designee, the production may then proceed consistent with the approved plan.

 

REQUIREMENTS FOR FILM PERMITTING UNDER COVID-19: 

  1. It may take 7-10 business days before your first shoot date for permit turnaround. If you are using a drone camera for filming, we may need additional days to work on your submission. 
  2. Submission of our updated permit application (bottom left corner of the document should say Use Agreement 08/20).  
    • Please download the permit, fill it out, save it and send it to us. DO NOT FLATTEN/PRINT/SCAN PERMIT APPLICATION PDF BEFORE SENDING TO FILM OFFICE, we need to receive the fillable format in order to work on your submission.  
    • DO NOT PRINT, SIGN AND EMAIL THE SIGNATURE PAGE, we will do all signatures at the end of the permitting process through DocuSign. 
  3. Productions will need to fill out a DETAILED QUESTIONNAIRE about their filming request that includes specifics about each location
  4. Productions will need to submit a health and safety plan which ensures compliance with Appendix A of the Order of the Health Officer prior to permit issuance. The plan must be posted at any interior location and distributed to all personnel prior to start of production. The plan should include, but is not limited to detailing the sanitation, social distancing, health screening, and if applicable, testing, ventilation, and any other procedures used to minimize the risk of transmission among participants. Productions must designate a person on-site to monitor the health and safety plan and give FilmSF this contact information prior to permit issuance. 
  5. Productions must also give the COVID-19 symptom and exposure screening handout DAILY to all cast, crew, and personnel before the start of the day who work on productions. Any person who answers “yes” to a screening question must not be permitted to enter the location.
  6. All other permit application requirements and guidelines still apply (insurance, parking production vehicles, etc.)  
    • Please use this updated film notice template with special wording regarding COVID-19 when you need to notify a neighborhood of your parking and/or filming activity. 

 

FAQ FOR FILM PERMITTING UNDER COVID-19: 

Are permits for film productions allowed at this time?  
Yes, provided that productions are in compliance with the listed guidelines above. 
 
How long will it take to process a permit?  
Due to Covid-19 circumstances, we need more lead time to process and approve your permit. We may need a minimum of 7-10 business days.  
 
Can a production have more than 25 cast, crew, and personnel associated with their project? 
Yes, as long as the number of people in one location does not exceed 25.  
Example #1: A production of 25 or less is filming at Rincon Park. Another group of no more than 25: drivers, personnel and other crew are working at their basecamp located at a nearby outdoor parking lot. 
Example #2: A production of 25 or less is filming at Civic Center Plaza and another group of 25 or less from the same production is prepping their next location at UN Plaza.  
Note: people can move to/from various locations as long as the total count does not exceed 25. 
 
Can a production film talent without a face covering indoors? 
Yes, provided that the production complies with the social distancing, testing, ventilation, and crew/personnel face coverings (non-vented N95 mask) requirements in the Indoor Film and Media Production Guidelines listed above. 
 
Can hair and makeup be applied to talent? 
Yes, provided that they are in compliance with the safety precautions set forth in Section 1.10 of Exhibit A to Health Officer Directive 2020-30b (page 6).   
 
Can a production obtain a permit to post parking for production vehicles?  
Yes, if a production meets the requirements for filming under the Order of the Health Officer, then you may also obtain a permit to post parking. You will need to go through the procedures to obtain a permit and will need to work with one of the posting vendors to post your parking. We are not allowing productions to self-post at this time. 
 
Can a production use a motorhome on their shoot?  
Yes, provided there are only the number of people in the motorhome that can maintain at least 6 feet social distance, face coverings are worn at all times, and doors/windows are left open to increase ventilation to the greatest extent feasible. Motorhome must be cleaned and sanitized frequently (at least every 3-4 hours). 
 
Is craft service and catering allowed indoors?  
Yes, provided that productions meet the requirements noted in the Indoor Film and Media Production Guidelines listed above. 
 
What else do I need to know? 
  • FilmSF staff may conduct drop-in inspections of permitted productions. 
  • Please be respectful of the public and merchants and try to impact access to merchants as little as possible. 
  • Posted parking will be limited in order to facilitate merchants getting back to business, including curbside pick-ups by their customers.
 
 

RESOURCES:

San Francisco Department of Public Health website on COVID-19: 
https://www.sfdph.org/dph/alerts/coronavirus.asp
The Toolkit section and the Coronavirus Facts section of the DPH site also includes signage in multiple languages which you can use to meet some of the notice requirements in the Safety Protocol. Additional Public Health information can be found at https://www.sfcdcp.org/infectious-diseases-a-to-z/coronavirus-2019-novel-coronavirus/

San Francisco Department of Human Resources is a valuable source of information to help respond to questions you may have regarding topics such as employee assistance programs, telecommuting, application of various leave policies, employee non-compliance with safety requirements, and other COVID-19 related personnel issues: https://sfdhr.org/covid-19

San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development has helpful resources for businesses and workers: https://oewd.org/resources-businesses-and-employees-impacted-covid-19

Other sites with relevant information: