V.P. David Gale interviews V.P. Angelica Alejandro, and members Anett Rumanoczky and Pearl Sun, who’ve worked in background or done stand-in work with COVID safety protocols. While they report everyone is happy, excited and grateful to get back to work, they also share their stresses, confusion, frustrations, wishes and tips.
- Don’t touch me! Crew should use verbal instructions when moving BG performers. It is not safe or respectful to touch them.
- Face shields for performers might be preferable to masks, as performers would need fewer make-up touches. Performers in all work categories are the only crew members frequently taking their masks on and off.
- Fellow performers, please keep your masks on between takes to protect your colleagues.
- Not being able to see people’s lips move under a mask can make it challenging to understand instructions. Could someone please invent a see-through mask? 😉
- Bring your own snacks. This has always been a good idea, but it is even more so now that buffet-style craft tables are gone. Snacks vary between productions. Take care of yourself. Don’t count on the snacks provided by production to meet your needs.
- Expand your kit bag. You might need wardrobe, layers, make-up and hair supplies, documents, your COVID kit, snacks. Allow yourself sufficient time to make sure you come prepared.
- Go to COVID check-in before you go to BG holding.
- As the paperwork goes electronic, take a photo of your paperwork on your phone for back-up.
Performers working in all performance categories have talked about being confused by the differing testing and safety protocols on different productions. Some sets require COVID testing three times a week; others do not. Background performers can work on a number of different sets in one week. When a performer has to take separate COVID tests for each production, it can limit the number of full days of work a performer can accept. Note, though, that performers are paid for two-hours of work when production requires them to be tested for COVID.
Oh, by the way, everyone agrees that pre-ordered lunches are awesome!
V.P. Alejandro hopes the lessons learned and changes made during COVID can help make production run more efficiently and safely after COVID. Looking toward the new year, Anett wonders how productions will adapt their safety procedures to working on indoor sets in winter.
Even if you don’t work in background, we hope you’ll take the time to watch the discussion, and read the note from stand-in Ellen Oatmeyer below the video. It’s important for all union members to understand the unique challenges of doing stand-in work, or working in background, and many of the discussion points are relevant to all work categories.
And, as always, be reminded, if you see something that looks unsafe, please, call ACTRA.