COVID-19 FILM RESOURCES
Last Updated: March 15, 2021
GUIDANCE FOR PRODUCTIONS
Austin is currently open and permits are being issued to production business and it is encouraged that productions follow the safety protocols highlighted in the Governor's Open Texas Checklist for Media Production. Media productions may adopt additional protocols consistent with their specific needs and circumstances to help protect the health and safety of all employees, crew, cast and independent contractors. The Governor’s current Executive Order, GA-34, went into effect on March 10, 2021 and provides:
- A full opening of Texas businesses, without capacity limitations, except in areas of Texas where COVID-19 hospitalization cases exceed 15 percent of the area’s hospital census. This includes indoor and outdoor events/gatherings.
- Removes the statewide mask mandate.
- Local government officials may not issue orders mandating masks unless the 15% hospitalization threshold is reached.
- Prohibits a local government official from issuing orders restricting business capacity, unless the 15% hospitalization threshold is reached.
State law gives local health authorities the ability to create rules to protect the community independent of the disaster or emergency powers elsewhere granted to mayors and county judges. The City of Austin and Travis County will continue to enforce masking and social distancing per the public health mandate as established independently by Dr. Mark Escott, Medical Director and Health Authority for Austin Public Health last summer. The local Stay Home – Work Safe Order initially issued March 24, 2020 is still in place until April 15, 2021 to prevent further spread of COVID-19. During this unprecedented time, the health and well-being of our local community and industry professionals is vital, the Stay Home-Work Safe Order requires protective masks in public spaces, washing of hands and the maintaining of 6-foot social distancing. Austin-Travis County is currently in Stage 3 restrictions.
TESTING / HEALTH & SAFETY VENDORS
The Austin Film Commission - Production Directory includes a number of new Health & Safety categories including: Safety Coordinators, PPE & Sanitation Suppliers, COVID-19 Testing, and Disinfecting & Cleaning. These local vendors and crew will make sure your production safe, clean and operating by the industry work safety guidelines. Please make sure you are hiring certified professionals.
If you are looking to get certified as a Designated Infection Control Officer, C.E. Solutions currently offers classes locally.
SAG-AFTRA has a full list of union endorsed testing centers and vendors included in their COVID Tools and Resources For Producers & Employers During COVID-19.
The following is a list of additional Austin area non-production related COVID test sites and the requirements for each facility as far as getting the test along with turn-around times and contact details. These test sites are for the general public. Similarly tests can also be gotten from some personal physicians and medical practices too.
The following are COVID-19 standard safety guidelines issued or endorsed by industry associations and unions for the film, television and commercial productions:
- DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE & Teamsters’ Committees for COVID-19: The Safe Way Forward Guidelines
- Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP): COVID-19 Health & Safety Best Practices Guidelines
- Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP): COVID-19 Workplace Guidelines & Considerations
- National Set Medics: COVID-19 Guidelines
- Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA): Job Hazard Analysis Guidelines, Guidelines for Controlling COVID at Work, Return To Work Guidelines
CITY OF AUSTIN RESOURCES
The City of Austin’s Public Health department is actively involved in the response to COVID-19. For the latest local news including COVID-19 statistics, safety information, emergency mandates and additional local resources, please visit: www.austintexas.gov/COVID19.
The City of Austin is offering free COVID-19 testing. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you can use the link above to take an online assessment to preregister for free testing and schedule a no-cost, drive-through COVID-19 test at a local Austin Public Health facility.
ATXrecovers.com is the City of Austin’s one-stop resource to help individuals, businesses, and non-profits recover from the financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The website features up-to-date lists of resources for businesses and individuals; updates on local, state, and federal recovery policies; and economic indicators for the local economy.
STATE OF TEXAS RESOURCES
The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) oversees the state's unemployment benefits system. If your employment has been affected by COVID-19, you can apply for those benefits. TWC will investigate why you lost your job and mail a decision explaining whether you are eligible for unemployment benefits. Applications are accepted via:
- Online through the Unemployment Benefit Services Portal (24 hours a day)
- By phone through the TWC Tele-Center at: 1-800-939-6631 (open 8am to 6pm, Monday - Friday)
On March 27, 2020, an emergency relief bill known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act became law to help order to help bolster the U.S. economy through the following initiatives:
- Through the Small Business Administration (SBA), there will be a Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) up to $10,000 that may convert to a grant. Click here to apply.
- The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) authorizes up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. All loan terms will be the same for everyone. Click here to apply.
The US Department of Labor has issued new workplace protections through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Directors Guild of America (DGA) – Loans & Waivers
The DGA is offering interest-free loans to members in need of financial aid and is waiving all patient costs for coronavirus testing for individuals that use the guild’s health plan.
International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) - Relief Fund
IATSE National Benefit Fund has waived all fees for COVID-19 testing for a number of membership health plan levels and is extending its annuity hardship withdrawals to include members who need Coronavirus financial aid from job losses.
Producers Guild of America (PGA) – Members Relief Fund
The PGA Members Relief Fund is being administered through The Actors Fund which offers resources and assistance for entertainment professionals in all areas of the industry.
Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) – COVID-19 Disaster Relief Fund
The SAG-AFTRA Disaster Relief Fund aids members with basic expenses, including rent, mortgage payments, medical bills, and utilities.
- The Actors Fund: COVID-19 Resource List
- American’s For the Arts: COVID-19 Resource & Response Center
- Art-House Convergence: Pandemic Preparedness Resources
- Creative Capital: Arts Resources During the COVID-19 Outbreak
- COVID-19 Freelance Artist Resources
- Entertainment Partners: Free Webinar Series
- Spark & Seed Film Festival Survival Pledge
- Texan’s For the Arts: COVID-19 Resources
- Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts (TALA) COVID-19 Response Program
- Texas Film Commission Resource List
- TXMPA Resource List
- The Actors Fund
- All Together Austin
- Freelancer COVID-19 Emergency Fund
- Freelancers Relief Fund
- Motion Picture & Television Fund
- Stand with Austin
- Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Assistance Fund
What actions are being undertaken in Austin, following news of the positive cases?
Austin Public Health is closely monitoring the rapidly evolving situation in coordination with the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and local and regional public health and healthcare agencies. APH has developed a five-phase plan to coordinate COVID-19 response activities. We are currently in Phase 3:
- Phase 1: Persons Under Monitoring
- Phase 2: Persons Under Investigation (Testing in Progress)
- Phase 3: Confirmed Case(s) (No Person-to-Person spread)
- Phase 4: Limited Person-to-Person Spread (Close/Household Contacts)
- Phase 5: Sustained Person-to-Person Spread in the Community
Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.
APH has also activated our Department Operations Center to allow for enhanced response coordination, provided symptom monitoring for residents returning to Austin/Travis County from travel abroad, and provided prevention messaging to health care professionals, businesses, schools, and the general public. Additionally, the Austin-Travis County Emergency Operations Center (ATCEOC) has been activated.
For the latest local COVID-19 statistics, please reference the Austin Public Health Dashboard.
What the public do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19?
The CDC recommends these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of COVID‑19:
- Wash hands often for 20 seconds and encourage others to do the same. If no soap and water are available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Practice social distancing. This includes avoiding crowds and minimizing physical contact. Stand at least 6 feet apart.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Cover your face around others. Cough and sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue away.
- Disinfect surfaces, buttons, handles, knobs, and other places touched often.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home if you can.
- If you are sick and think you have been exposed, stay home and contact a healthcare provider for advice.
Where can I go with urgent questions related to COVID-19?
If you think you are sick with COVID‑19, read more here about what to do. Should you have urgent questions for Austin Public Health about coronavirus information which haven’t already been addressed online or through regional updates, please call or email their team at 512-974-2000 / email@example.com.
What businesses are requiring masks for staff and guests?
Visitors can search Visit Austin business listings using the applicable “masks required” filters throughout our Things to Do section and Meeting Planner Supplier Directory to see a list of businesses participating.
The film and television industry is hurting. How can I help?
Though it does not seem like it at times, taking part in Stay Home-Work Safe is helping stop the spread of COVID-19.
You are right, the film industry supports many local businesses and jobs. If you can, please take a few minutes to fill out the American for the Arts: Economic Impact of COVID-19 Survey to support the entertainment industries. The survey is designed to collect information about the financial and human impacts that the spread of the coronavirus have had on workers within the industry parsed by specific geographic regions, artistic disciplines, and budget categories.
Support your local businesses! Now is a great time to buy a gift certificate or membership for one (or two, or three) of the local cinemas temporarily shuttered due to COVID-19. Get a badge for one of the over 30 amazing annual film and television festivals that are held right here in Austin. Maybe you have the itch to create... If it's time to buy or rent equipment to make a your movie, get your filmmaking tools from one of the many amazing Austin-based vendors!
Now is also the time to update or create your Austin Production Directory listing, be it a for your business or your freelance crew member entry. The listing is free! Market yourself for those employment opportunities are around the corner. Get your contact details out there and let producers know about your skills and previous credits. The directory is also very helpful for us to track industry freelancer and businesses in the region, so when we are working with legislatures to get a more competitive film incentive, we can let them know how many constituents are impacted.
So I am stuck at home... What do I watch?
For over 50 years, feature films and television series have been produced in Austin. We have a rich history of big and small screen stories told by Austinites and made by hard working, talented local technicians who are our friends and neighbors. There are hundreds of those titles streaming online. There is literally something for everyone. Keep Austin state of mind. Here is where to find Austin streaming titles online:
- Check out the Austin Insider Blog, for a decade-by-decade guide of streaming #madeinAustin films.
- The wonderful Screens staff at the Austin Chronicle have curated daily film recommendations via the Now Streaming In Austin series.
- AFS Cinema Virtual Screenings.
- Violet Crown Virtual Screenings.
- Community Cinema at Mobile Loaves & Fishes
- Blue Starlite Drive-In
- Doc's Drive-In
- Hyperreal Film Club
- Alamo On-Demand
- Many of the Austin-based film festivals have gone virtual too.
Food and film go hand in hand! Make it dinner and a movie if you can, please support your favorite local restaurants offering take out and delivery options!