Reviewing the Covid-19 White Paper Guidelines with Lisa Mall and Brandon Riley

In this episode we discuss the COVID-19 White Paper guidelines with Lisa Mall.

Lisa is a DGA 2nd AD-based in Dallas, TX but frequently works across the US in various cities such as New York City, Portland, OR and many others. Her recent projects include Halle Berry’s “Bruised,” Netflix’s unreleased “Grand Army,” USA Network’s “Queen of the South,” and a handful of indie feature films.  Past projects include IFC’s “Portlandia,” Marvel’s “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones,” and a smattering of movies the likes of “Olympus Has Fallen,” “The Maze Runner,” and “Get On Up,” to name a few.
Please enjoy!

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10 notes regarding the Industry White Paper

As of June 1st, 2020 the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force released a White Paper that was compiled by various companies, unions and guilds in the Film/TV Industry with the purpose of creating a safe workplace and re-starting the industry. Below you can download the file and see our thoughts.

  1. The document is very concise, easy to read and graphically interesting. Some people were expecting a 40-page report that no one would read…thankfully most in the industry will be able to digest this 22-page doc with ease.
  2. It is really amazing to think that all the film unions and guilds came together to create such a document in such record time. Kuddos to everyone involved!
  3. The suggestion to include Face Shields in addition to face masks and cloth masks is definitely worth noting. For individuals such as Directors, ADs (who have to communicate a ton) and/or anyone who hates wearing a face mask….the face shield may be the solution we have been waiting for. Face shields cover your eyes (which face masks fail to do) and they have the potential to make it easier to communicate with a walkie etc.
  4. The suggestion to use electronic scripts, sign-out sheets and electronic documents (call sheets, prs) etc is something that for the most part has been adopted by the industry, however there are certain productions that still may be stuck in their ways using paper and need a push to go digital (something we wrote about here).
  5. Having adequate eating space for lunch can be challenging…. I’m a bit surprised that french hours were not suggested to solve this problem although they did mention having shifts.
  6. The designation of a Covid-19 compliance officer will be a relief to many that these “supervision” duties do not fall onto the shoulders of the AD staff.
  7. Background Actors were not really mentioned in the document (except briefly on page 20 in reference to crowd scenes) unless they were included in the category of Cast.
  8. While the document is very thorough it does not really detail if non-union workers such as PAs will be under the same rules as a union worker. Also what if a production is only SAG or only IATSE…will the same rules apply to everyone?
  9. In general the face mask policy needs a bit more clarification. Obviously cast/crews will be able to take it off during lunch, however will there ever be instances where having a face masks is not required ie… shooting in an outdoor field where crew are predominately able to social distance with ease.
  10. While there are bound to be a ton of questions to the interpretation of these rules…where does one go to dive deep into these questions? Will there be a website with more information or suggestions for how to improve this document?

Below you can join our Facebook Group to participate in questions/discussion on how best to implement these policies on your set.

What does a 2nd AD do besides make a call sheet?

Crew members who work as 2nd Assistant Directors fill one of the most critical roles on any film set. The 2nd AD acts as a bridge between the “set” and the “basecamp” and while they are known for creating the call sheet, their duties extend into other areas of production that are vital for a set to operate efficiently.

The below information was complied by the Directors Guild of America:

2nd AD Duties

  1. Prepare the call sheets, handle extras, requisitions, and other required documents for approval by the 1st AD, the UPM and/or the production office.
  2. Prepare the daily production report and end of day paper work.
  3. Distribute scripts and script changes (after shooting has started) to cast and crew.
  4. Distribute call sheets to cast and crew.
  5. Distribute, collect, and approve extra vouchers, placing adjustments as directed by the 1st AD on the vouchers.
  6. Communicate advance scheduling to cast and crew.
  7. Aid in the scouting, surveying and managing of locations (mandatory in New York and Chicago)
  8. Facilitate transportation of equipment and personnel.
  9. May be required to secure execution of minor cast contracts, extra releases, and on occasion to secure execution of contracts by talent. (May also be delegated to 1st AD and UPM.)
  10. Coordinate with production staff so that all elements, including cast, crew and extras, are ready at the beginning of the day, and supervise the wrap in the studio and on location (local and distant).
  11. Schedule food, lodging and other facilities.
  12. Sign cast members in and out.
  13. Maintain liaison between UPM and/or the production office and the 1st AD on the set.
  14. Assist the 1st AD in the direction and placement of background action and in the supervision of crowd control.
  15. Perform crowd control in New York and Los Angeles except where the work is customarily performed by police officers or is performed by security personnel or a facility at which the photography takes place and which requires or customarily provides this service; provided, however, persons not covered by the Basic Agreement may perform such work if at least two additional 2nd ADs are employed in addition to a Key 2nd AD and 2nd 2nd AD or two Key 2nd ADs
  16. Supervise and direct the work of any Trainee or Intern assigned to the picture.
  17. May assist in the proper distribution and documentation of milage money by the Producer’s appointed representative.

An employer may not unreasonably deny a request from a UPM or 1st AD for another 2nd Assistant Director. BA 13-202 (b).

New Podcast – Episode 1 – Paul Garnes – Lessons from a seasoned UPM / Line Producer

I’ve started a brand new film/tv podcast that is all about production “Go For Production.” I hope you enjoy the first episode and stay tuned for exciting new guests!

Listen on iTunes or Spotify

Paul Garnes (@paulgarnes on instagram) has served as a producer, line producer and/or production manager on films and television series for Disney, Dreamworks, HBO, ABC, NBC, BET, Sony/Screen Gems, Magnolia Films, and Paramount Pictures.

A graduate of Chicago’s Columbia College, Garnes has worked as Vice President of Operations and Production for Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx’s Foxx/King Productions and Head of Production for Simmons-Lathan Media Group.

In 2006, Garnes was recruited by Tyler Perry and Reuben Cannon to join the Tyler Perry Company where he served as Vice President and Executive in Charge of Production until 2009, overseeing the creation of its multi-million dollar studio and backlot. In addition to daily operations, Garnes supervised over 250 episodes of broadcast television while at the studio.

Paul was the Executive Producer of the film Selma that was nominated for the 2015 Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Original Song, and won a 2015 Golden Globe for Best Original Song.

Recently Paul served as the Line Producer of ABC’s Cloak and Dagger and is currently working as the Line Producer and Executive Producer to the series Queen Sugar which is part of the OWN Network.

7 reasons why your Low Budget film should go DGA Signatory

I often get asked to create schedules and budgets for films in development and one of the questions I will often ask the producer(s) is what unions they want to budget for. Many times SAG is a no brainer no matter the budget but often times convincing producers to budget for IATSE, DGA, TEAMSTERS and WGA can be a challenge. Many times the reasons producers don’t want to join these unions is because of paperwork, limited finances and having to be under the scrutiny of a union. I put together a list of reasons why producers might want to reconsider….

7 reasons why your Low Budget Film show should go DGA Signatory:

1. Choosing to make your project DGA signatory will allow your Director the ability to Join the DGA if they are not currently a member.

2. Your film will be eligible to be entered into the DGA Awards.

3. You will be required to hire DGA UPMs and ADs (1st, 2nd and 2nd 2nd) thus ensuring an experienced AD staff. Now yes you can (might be able to) find experienced Non-Union ADs and UPMs however it is possible that they may or may not be as experienced as someone in the union and this could potentially lead to problems.

Example: You hire a Non-Union 1st AD who has only done one or two features and they may or may not not know how to keep your set safe or on schedule and you end up needing to shoot more days thus causing you to spend thousands of dollars.

4. If a movie is over a million dollars, some financiers will prefer that your movie is bonded. Some bond companies will require that your film join certain unions such as IATSE and DGA to limit the risk involved in making the picture.

5. You have access to a vast network of possible DGA Directors, ADs and UPMS around the United States to employ. Check out the list(s) HERE.

6. It may not be as expensive as you thought. For films under $500K the rates are negotiable. Essentially you would be paying the fringes (pension and health etc) on 3-4 crew members in addition to your cast. Check out the rates HERE.

7. It may not be as difficult as you thought. Yes you have to fill out an application and submit information about the film…but you are most likely doing this for SAG etc. What’s one more application?

Curious about making your project DGA Signatory? Follow these simple steps…

Step 1.
Visit the Employers section of the DGA website.


Step 3.
Download the appropriate signatory package on the right hand side.
You may need the following documents
  • Name of Producer Company (company info, llc etc)
  • Project Title
  • Type of project (Theatrical Feature, Movie for Television, Television Series, etc.)
  • Name of Director
  • Principal Photography Start Date
  • Project location
  • Budget
  • Intended Initial Release
  • Company contact information: Name, Title, telephone, email, website

Note:
There is a section on the DGA Application where you will list the Director, UPM and ADs. Its important to note that for most applications you will need to hire members in good standing who are listed on the perspective Qualification List. There are some project types where you may be eligible to hire someone who is not listed in a certain category etc. You can always fill out the crew you know for now ie… (Director and UPM) and then submit the AD names at a later time once it gets closer to filming. If you have any questions about the application don’t be afraid to call the DGA and ask.

Step 4.
Email the packet to signatories@dga.org.

Once your signatory application has been received, a signatory rep will be able to review and let you know what additional items are needed for the signatory process. Should you have questions about the signatory application’s status once sent, contact a Signatories Assistant, at (310) 289-2094.

Step 5.
Upon return of the completed and signed signatory application and forms, the Guild will determine if the producer company presented is the appropriate signatory entity, based on the information provided. Further information may be required.

Step 6.
Signatory status will be given to the Producer at the time the Guild is confident that the necessary signatory and financial assurances’ documents have been provided. The signatory and financial assurances documents will be circulated to the appropriate parties, signed by the authorized representative of the signatory Producer, and delivered to the Guild prior to the commencement of Principal Photography. A payroll deposit is required. It is important to discuss the delivery of the payroll deposit with the Signatory Representative early in the signatory process.