South Africa sets guidelines for commercial production

(Tomb Raider one of many South African prouctions)

The South African Government has permitted production under level 4 regulations. These rules are non-negotiable and need to be followed under all circumstances, according to the Commercial Producers Association of South Africa. The biggest adjustment – only 50 people will be allowed on set.

Reel 360 has obtained the new CPA Rulebook Guidelines for Commercial Film Production in South Africa. The new set of strategies come as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the country and the world and an understanding of the necessity to create a new working protocol.

According to the booklet’s introduction, the aim is to establish control measures to be used as best practices to protect the safety of all those who work on film sets. Many of the measures listed herein are rooted in good film-set discipline, and the guidelines state, “… should be readily adaptable.”

“We will work within the guidelines put forth by Government and Health Authorities to ensure that there are safe working distances, screening protocols, and that proper hygiene measures are in place. The aim of these protocols is to minimize exposure and thereby limit the spread of COVID-19 whilst maintaining a functional film industry.”

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General Pratices

The new guidelines encourage a work-from-home strategy whenever possible for freelance and permanent production and administrative office-based staff. Anyone who can work remotely must be allowed to do so.

When employees and freelancers arrive, they will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19. Social distancing will be implemented on set and everyone will use a mask at all times (PPE will be provided for personnel who don’t have their own)

All work environments will have hand sanitizers and / or hand washing facilities with soap available. Individual film production business or workplaces will have COVID-19 risk assessments and plans in place, and must conduct worker education on COVID-19 and protection measures

Production companies will be responsible for monitoring clean surfaces and ensuring compliance with safety protocols and (2) identify infections amongst employees

Maintain regular housekeeping practices in your immediate space, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, equipment, and other elements of the work environment

People over 60 will be required to work from home. Companies will also be responsible for the identification and protection of vulnerable employees will be mandatory

All of the responsibility does not fall on the production company’s shoulders. Employees also share the responsibility in this new world. Any worker that is immune compromised or in a high-risk category must disclose this to the employer, be protected, and work from home

Face-to-face meetings to be avoided if possible. Here are some specifics in various areas.


  • Where possible, talent will do remote castings using ‘self-taping’, or cast via video-conferencing facility.
  • Where casting takes places at a casting studio, all social distancing and hand sanitizing protocols will be adhered to.
  • Anyone who belongs to a high-risk health group should not put themselves forward for castings until the COVID-19 pandemic is better managed e.g. people over 70 and those with pre-existing medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes etc.
  • Cast would be expected to fill in a health questionnaire
  • Talent can be pre-selected to ensure controlled attendance at the casting, showing talent that is most accurate to casting specs, director’s vision, and budget.
  • Casting studio layouts to be adjusted to allow that social distancing protocols are adhered to at the registration desk and that seating is 2 meters apart.
  • Overflow systems to be set up outside respective studios to delineate the correct distancing.
  • Casting directors and staff at casting studios to wear masks at all times when engaging with talent and each other. Talent will be required to wear masks to castings and keep them on until the audition.
  • Phones, all door + desk handles + surfaces will be sanitized between each artist.
  • Hand sanitizers will be provided at the entrance to studios, and in casting studios. Talent will be advised to use this on arrival and departure.
  • Use of paper forms and sharing of pens will be limited and managed. Where possible electronic versions to be used.

Craft Services

  • All catering and craft personnel to wear appropriate PPE at all times when preparing or handling food.
  • All people handling food for provision of others are to wash their hands before doing so.
  • Mealtimes will be staggered.
  • There shall be no mealtime buffets until deemed safe to resume .
  • Meals shall be served in eco-friendly enclosed packaging and production will ensure that recycling is managed.
  • Craft to provide single serve pre-packaged snacks.
  • Food will not be walked around on set and offered up on trays
  • Single use pre-packaged tea and coffee to be supplied and personnel to prepare their own.
  • Should a sit-down eating area be provided, the social distancing protocols shall be adhered to.
  • All eating utensils + plates + bowls + containers of any kind should be pre-packaged, disposable, and eco-friendly.
  • Refilling of reusable water bottles shall be done with no person-to-person contact.

Make-Up and Hair

  • Health and Safety education is advised with specific attention to microbe transmission.
  • Separate make-up + hair areas to be allocated and each separate. workstation should adhere to correct social distancing protocols.
  • Appropriate PPE will be worn by make-up + hair artists.
  • Hand sanitizing will be done before and after each make-up application.
  • Any brushes are to be sanitized between use or disposable applicator packs to be considered.
  • All workstation surfaces are to be cleaned between use .
  • On set make-up + hair application will be reserved for featured cast only.


  • Limit number of people present at fittings.
  • Costume hire facilities to outline and implement wardrobe hire and sanitization protocols.
  • Allow adequate prep time and approval time to take cleaning and sanitization protocols into consideration i.e. washing / steaming of clothes prior to and after fittings.
  • Stylist to wear appropriate PPE and wash hands between fitting talent.
  • On set, physical contact between talent and wardrobe crew while often necessary, should be minimized whenever possible.
  • Appropriate PPE will be worn by the stylist and assistants.
  • The wardrobe stylist is to assist one cast member at a time and wash hands or disinfect between each artist.

Video Village

  • Remote video viewing to be encouraged Video village to be set up at a standby area and not on set if possible Social distancing rules apply.
  • Video village to be set up at a standby area and not on set if possible.
  • Social distancing rules apply.
  • Remote video viewing to be encouraged Video village to be set up at a standby area and not on set if possible Social distancing rules apply.

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Other Highlights

  • Studios and locations must be sanitized before crew and actors arrive.
  • At least one Medic / appointed Health + Safety Officer must be present on every shoot and a designated consultation area is to be provided for health checks.
  • Crew will suffer no fear of reprisals and be assured of confidentiality should they report to the Health + Safety Officer if any protocols are not being adhered to that might compromise them.
  • Before every shoot, a short health + safety briefing will be held.
  • Masks will be required to be worn by all personnel on set, with the exception of actors during filming.
  • Masks will conform to the National Department of Health guidelines
  • Production will ensure that all interior spaces are well ventilated.
  • Production will ensure that there is regular and frequent cleaning of all contact surfaces.
  • Where a workstation is used by more than one person, it will be cleaned between each user.
  • Production to provide sanitizing stations on set in appropriate areas.

Clients and suppliers should please note that the CPA has no jurisdiction over non-members so due care should be taken to ensure that they too comply with all requirements.

Masters and Savant is a multi-disciplinary production company and international production hub with offices and studios in Cape Town and Johannesburg.  They are repped in the United States by Liz Laine Reps.

SOURCE: Commercial Producers Association of South Africa