Covid-19: Commercial production sector response



13 MARCH 2020

The arrival of Covid-19 or Coronavirus in South Africa has been met with great trepidation. This is hardly surprising considering the situation unfolding in China and across Europe and the US and the uncertainty that lies ahead.

Covid-19 has impacted the South African production sector with reports that some international clients are cancelling jobs due to concerns ranging from reluctance to transit through international airports to delays on products due to be shipped out of China for sale elsewhere.

Although many international commercial productions are going ahead in March and April there has been a sudden decline in requests for South African production companies to quote on international jobs. In the local market there are questions about the impact of Coronavirus on shoots and discussion on how this can be mitigated.

The CPA has consulted with The Chesterfield Group on the insurance implications and has established the following:

  1. Generally speaking, agencies and Production companies are not able to insure against the effects of the Coronavirus and their policies exclude events caused by communicable diseases.
  2. In some policies, cancellation of shoots may be covered however it is unlikely that a postponement or relocation will be covered.
  3. It is therefore very important for all agencies and production companies to check directly with their insurance brokers to establish the extent of their cover.
  4. Once this has been actioned, all parties must agree on the way forward in the event of a cancellation, postponement or relocation. This discussion should happen before the shoot and the agreement formalized in writing.

It is also important for suppliers, crew and talent (and their agents) to be aware of the implications as they too may be affected. In some instances, clients may agree to pay cancellation on all agreed upon costs if a job is cancelled due to Covid-19 however they may also request that jobs go ahead on risk. This means that the supplier accepts the risk that the job may be cancelled and that no cancellation fees will be paid if it is. In the client does request this, we recommend that agencies and production companies communicate this up-front to suppliers and agents – it will then be up to them to accept or decline the offer.

We encourage everyone in our industry to resist the urge to panic. Instead it is important that everyone take the necessary precautions and do their utmost to avoid the virus and to remain healthy.

In order to assist you with this, we have prepared some documentation that can be displayed and circulated on set – the aim is to keep the message simple, clear and consistent. We recommend that all production companies attach this information to your call sheets and provide facilities on set so that people can regularly wash or sanitize their hands and take other precautions necessary to halt the spread of Covid-19.

To learn more about Covid-19, please refer to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases website