How to Stay Safe Filming an Event During COVID-19
Filming any event during the coronavirus pandemic is a challenge. Here are the safety measures to take while filming an event during COVID-19.
While COVID-19 may be causing weddings and events to rethink some of their original plans, they’re certainly still happening.
Many events are reducing their size, often taking the popular 250-person wedding guest list down closer to 100 people, and serving plated meals rather than a buffet-style dinner. Some places are still not allowing open dance floors, and others are even prohibiting indoor events all together.
My wife and I have spent the last three years building our own wedding videography business in the Kansas City area. And, while most of our spring 2020 weddings have been rescheduled for 2021, we still attended two weddings this past June.
We’re happy to say that each wedding did take on some extra precautions, but we quickly realized that we were going to have to take additional previsions to ensure our own safety from COVID-19, as well as the safety of any future couples we were going to serve this year.
In our experiences thus far, the two of us and one of the DJs were the only people wearing masks. There’s been no real way to maintain social distancing guidelines, and people handling food and beverages aren’t wearing masks or gloves. Wedding parties and guest attendance haven’t being reduced, and basically, it’s just business as usual.
At our second venue, guests were required to sign a waver, as well as provide their personal information so as to be contacted in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak, and warning signs were displayed at the entrance of the reception.
The thought of contracting the coronavirus from one of our weddings haunts my dreams. We have a very busy wedding season ahead of us, and we have contractual promises to uphold to our clients. I want to ensure that I have done everything in my power to protect our current clients, our future clients, and myself. I’m not willing to take any more chances than I absolutely have to.
So, here are the things we’re doing to keep our clients and ourselves safe.
Wear a Mask
Wear it at all times. Don’t take it off. We bring a KN95 mask and a cloth mask with a filter insert. That way, we can switch it up throughout the day if our ears get sore, because it occasionally happens. Either way, we wear a powerful enough mask that we stay protected, even if the guests are not.
Don’t get me wrong, this makes for a tedious day — our glasses fog, we sweat more than usual, and frankly, it’s uncomfortable. But, you get used to it and it’s not as bad as you might think. I wear glasses so I understand how difficult it is to use a camera with a mask. Especially in June, especially in Missouri, and especially when the humidity is eighty-plus percent. Fog city! But it’s doable and it’s so worth it. Masks with a moldable nosepiece are incredibly useful in fog prevention.
Another thing to be aware of when wearing a mask is how much your voice is muffled. Be prepared to speak much louder than usual and have patience with people when you need to repeat yourself. You might be a little hoarse by the end of the day, but it’s certainly better than contracting the virus.
Sanitizer Is Your BFF
There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned hand washing, but sanitizer is still the MVP when you can’t get to soap and water. You’re touching countless things throughout the day, then touching your equipment, then touching more things. Sanitize your hands every moment you can (and don’t forget — the CDC recommends hand sanitizer to be AT LEAST sixty percent alcohol).
Do it before you touch the dress, the rings, the bouquet, and the bow tie — whatever it may be — and then do it again when you’re done. Even though I’m working hard to minimize human contact, a handshake or two slips through when I get caught up in the moment. Sanitize those phalanges!
Don’t Forget the Wipes
Grab some sanitizer wipes and wipe down your equipment as often as possible. Wipe down your gear bags, lights, camera, and the outside of your lens (not the glass or it’ll get streaky). If you use lavalier mics, be sure to wipe those down between each individual use.
Bring Your Own Food
Honestly, this is a sad one. One of the biggest perks to being a wedding filmmaker is the delicious dinner you can look forward to after working your tail off. But alas, the times they are a-changing.
After seeing our first wedding being served without masks, and hearing stories from other wedding vendors that contracted COVID-19 after working a wedding with a buffet-style dinner, we decided we’d have to start bringing our own food.
We brought along a small cooler and some quick sandwich ingredients. While our couples are eating, we run to our car, have some food, and take some time to breathe without a mask on. It’s actually kind of nice to step away for a moment and regroup. Given, no sandwich in the world can compare to fresh Prime Rib, but we’ll make do for now.
Give It All a Good Spray
Finally, when the day is done and we pack everything up and load it into the car, I spray all of our bags down with a disinfectant spray. Just to make sure I kill as many lingering germs as I possibly can, and keep them from coming home with me. When we get out of the car, I spray the inside of the car down, too.
Once More for Safety
Last, but not least, when we get home, or the next morning, I take time to sanitize all of the gear that was at the event. I’m talking everything — batteries, SD cards, shotgun mics, cables, light stands — all of it. This is also just a sustainable habit to get into beyond COVID-19.
I prefer to use sanitizing wipes, but Roger Cicala from lensrentals.com says, “A little soap and water applied with a dipped cloth and rubbed can be used on appropriate places — lens barrels, camera rubber, light stands, etc — and wiped off with a cloth and water after half a minute.” I haven’t personally tried this, so definitely proceed with caution if this is your method, and DO NOT SOAK ANYTHING!
Using isopropyl alcohol and a regular cloth, dish towel, or paper towel also works. Be mindful to keep any liquid only on the outside of your gear, use a small amount, and again, DO NOT SOAK ANYTHING. If you’re unsure, research it first.
Stay safe and smart out there! If something makes you uncomfortable, speak up. If you weren’t before, you’re essential now.
For more quarantine-related tips and safety guides, check out these additional articles:
- Inside the Electric Department: Lighting, Tools, and Safety Skills
- Working as a Grip: Essential Tips for Safety and Success
- What Quarantines and Streaming Culture Could Mean for the Industry
- The 7 Best Short Films to Come out of Quarantine (So Far)
Cover image via sandsun.