Pandemic Safety Plays Role in New Mexico Films
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s film industry has come roaring back to life this year and it has so far managed to avoid significant COVID-19 outbreaks.
Many credit the stringent protocols put in place by the industry, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
Film and TV productions in New Mexico got the green light to resume in September 2020.
According to the New Mexico Film Office, from Sept. 1, 2020, through Sept. 1, 2021, there have been 176,598 COVID tests administered throughout the various productions. Of those, 183 were positive.
“This is a testament to the film industry as they want to mitigate and remain safe,” said Amber Dodson, New Mexico Film Office director. “There have been less than eight productions that have paused for their own safety during the last year.”
As of Aug. 31, there were 18 film and 24 TV productions in various phases currently in the state.
When the film industry paused in March 2020, leaders spent months developing protocols that would be put in place when it resumed.
In June 2020, the White Paper was created by a Task Force of the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee describing health and safety guidelines to resume film and TV production.
It outlines protective measures to be used, including regular screening, diagnostic testing, use of personal protective equipment, cleaning and disinfecting work sites and appropriate response should an employee contract COVID-19 or be exposed to it.
The New Mexico Film Office also created Back2One, which promotes increasingly safe and healthy work practices and workplaces for the film/TV community, specifically in regard to the spread of infectious diseases. It also ushers in a smart and safe return to production and help ensure sustained success.
Dodson said one example of a protocol put in place for a New Mexico production is that each production has to give the Film Office its test results and if someone tests positive, the state has to be notified within four hours.
Heather Shreckengost is a health and safety manager for Tareco S/4 and works daily to ensure that productions are following the rules.
“The studios are the ones who write and develop the protocols,” Shreckengost said. “They do vary by production. My main role is to ensure that all on set are wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) properly.”
Being on set has changed in the last year.
When the cameras are rolling, masks don’t have to be worn, Shreckengost explains.
“Once filming stops, the masks have to come back on,” she said. “Everyone also has to maintain a safe distance of at least 6 feet. It can be difficult with small shooting locations, but that’s when size limitations are put into effect.”
By: Associated Press