Pandemic Safety Plays Role in New Mexico Movies | New Mexico News


By ADRIAN GOMEZ, Albuquerque Journal

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (AP) – The New Mexico film industry has come back to life this year and has so far been successful in preventing major outbreaks of COVID-19.

Many credit the strict protocols put in place by the industry, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

Film and television productions in New Mexico were given the green light to resume in September 2020.

According to the New Mexico Film Office, from September 1, 2020 to September 1, 2021, 176,598 COVID tests were administered in different productions. Of these, 183 were positive.

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“This is a testament to the film industry’s desire to tone down and stay safe,” said Amber Dodson, director of the New Mexico Film Office. “There have been less than eight productions that have shut down for their own safety in the past year.”

As of August 31, there were 18 film productions and 24 television productions in various stages currently in the state.

When the film industry took a hiatus in March 2020, executives spent months developing protocols that would be put in place upon recovery.

In June 2020, the white paper was created by an industry-wide occupational safety committee and management task force outlining health and safety guidelines for resuming film and television production.

It describes the protective measures to be used, including regular screening, diagnostic testing, the use of personal protective equipment, cleaning and disinfection of work sites, and an appropriate response if an employee contracts COVID- 19 or is exposed to it.

The New Mexico Film Office also created Back2One, which promotes increasingly safe and healthy work practices and workplaces for the film and television community, especially with regard to the spread of infectious diseases. It also ushers in a smart and safe return to production and helps ensure lasting success.

Dodson said an example of a protocol in place for a New Mexico production is that each production must give the Film Office its test results and if anyone tests positive, the state must be notified within four hours. .

Heather Shreckengost is the Health and Safety Manager for Tareco S / 4 and works daily to ensure that productions follow the rules.

“The studios write and develop the protocols,” said Shreckengost. “They vary depending on the production. My main role is to make sure that everyone on the set is wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) correctly.

Being on the set has changed over the past year.

When the cameras are rolling, there’s no need to wear masks, says Shreckengost.

“Once filming is stopped, the masks have to come back,” she said. “Everyone should also maintain a safe distance of at least 6 feet. It can be difficult with small locations, but that’s when the size limitations kick in. “

Shreckengost’s job varies from day to day, although the only constant is to keep everyone on set safe.

“I have to make sure we have enough PPE, as well as train anyone on the set in how to properly wear a mask,” she said. “I order specialty items such as commercial grade air purifiers. As we move, the logistics need to be done in advance before anyone starts filming. “

Dodson said COVID-19 has changed the way productions work.

She said most days are shorter because the tests take longer.

“I’ve actually heard from producers that because of COVID it’s made for longer production schedules,” Dodson said. “Each production hires additional staff. The productions run for several days.

Dodson also credits the film industry’s ability to pivot quickly for its success to having a low transmission rate.

“The productions are nimble and efficient,” said Dodson. “It serves every production to be as safe and as strict as possible. They don’t want to miss a single moment of their time because stopping a production costs money.

Shreckengost is also keeping track of the COVID variants that are appearing in the state.

“We are adapting to keep everyone safe,” she said. “We have to treat everyone as if it is an exposure risk. If we are closed, it costs productions a lot of money. Then there is also the health aspect. It helps to have a team that is committed to implementing and executing the protocols. “

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