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State Production Guidelines for COVID: A Definitive Guide to Film and TV Production During the Pandemic

Original publish date: May 28, 2020

Overview of State Production Guidelines

UPDATED February 1, 2022

State production guidelines for conducting film and TV work in the age of COVID-19 are anything but uniform. Many states are following CDC guidelines and setting their own pandemic production rules on a case-by-case basis. Some rules are stricter, others are more lenient. Film offices and local health officials often weigh in when setting COVID production guidelines for their states.

The closest thing we have to universal production guidelines is the AMPTP labor safety committee’s industry white paper on COVID-19 guidelines for reopening production. Many film offices used the white paper as a starting point for their own state guidelines on reopening film and TV production.

Moreover, a production union and guild task force from DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and the Teamsters put out their own joint report on COVID production guidelines called The Safe Way Forward, credited with jumpstarting and getting the film industry back to work in the early days of the pandemic.

A number of production companies have relocated shoots or entire production offices in order to film in states with fewer COVID-19 cases or looser state guidelines on production. With that in mind, we built this hub as a guide to filming in the states that have released COVID production guidelines.

COVID-19 Production Protections by State

Here we’ll keep a running list of states that have reopened film production to some extent during the COVID-19 pandemic, along with links to any state production guidelines they have provided. Keep this page bookmarked to continue monitoring which states have reopened for filming.

Alabama

The state of emergency ended in Alabama in mid-2021, completing the state’s phased reopening. While not required, masks are still generally recommended.

The Alabama Film Office is standing by to help productions begin production in Alabama.

Alaska

All 4 health advisories in Alaska have been rescinded. The state is open for production. Certain localities may have their own restrictions in place. Check the state COVID information site for the latest.

Arizona

Arizona is open for film and TV production, with productions asked to follow the general state guidelines for the workplace put forth in the governor’s executive order lifting most restrictions on businesses.

Fully vaccinated individuals are now permitted to resume pre-pandemic activities without wearing a mask. There are some exceptions in place, depending on your locality. However, groups larger than 50 people will no longer need approval from local governments to gather. While not required by law, productions, as private enterprises, are allowed to mandate masks and social distancing.

You can find information on the state’s specific production guidelines in place for safety on set, and find resources from the film office on the Arizona commerce site.

Arkansas

Film production is allowed in the state of Arkansas. With a short lived mask mandate, health officials still recommend wearing a mask indoors or when large groups of people are present. Some counties or cities may still have a mandate in place. Refer to the Film and Motion Picture page, COVID resources hub, as well as the Arkansas Department of Health website for more information.

California

California production was reopened by Governor Gavin Newsom on June 12, 2020. The economy is fully open and no longer using reopening tiers or phases. Mask, testing and vaccination mandates are in place in certain counties.

Entertainment labor unions have created and are enforcing an updated Return to Work (RTW) Agreement which puts crew health and safety first. This document is often revisited by constituent parties based on the latest data.

All eyes have been on L.A. County, where proof-of-vaccination or proof of negative test mandates as well as mask protocols are in place for all indoor activities. FilmLA maintains a COVID-19 Resource Center to provide the latest safety and permitting information.

The California Film commission also maintains a document detailing resources for productions to refer to should they need assistance or guidance, found here.

Learn more about the CFC’s California Production Incentive here, or view our recorded webinar on the newest California film tax incentive.

Colorado

The Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media developed a resource page to help the local entertainment industry through the pandemic. Filming and photography permits are issued at the local level, so productions should check in with local municipalities (usually the office of the city or county clerk or the office of special events, depending on where you are filming).

The film office also suggests productions contact the local public health office to ensure they are following all required health and safety protocols. State issued guidance is recommended, but is at the discretion of local county leaders. They are happy to connect you with the right county office; give them a call at 720 618 5055.

Connecticut

Connecticut is open and ready to host productions. The latest COVID-19 guidance in the state leaves mask and vaccine requirements up to the producer’s to decide.

Delaware

While not much infrastructure is yet in place in terms of incentives or permitting for production in Delaware, the state is open to filmmakers who wish to film there.

The state has adopted CDC guidance and recommends crew members wear a mask if they are not vaccinated.

Florida

It’s no surprise to find Florida on this list, with its limited official enforcement of stay-at-home orders overall. But it’s wonderful to see Film Florida has put out some sensible guidelines for production in the state of Florida.

Those COVID-specific state production guidelines include multiple rules per department, such as the sound unit using boom-only recording when possible, labeling microphones for individual on-camera talent, and disinfecting all mics and transmitters before and after use. Self-service meals are eliminated, with crew encouraged to bring lunches and eat in their individual vehicles if possible.

Georgia

Georgia Film has released a guide to best practices for filming in Georgia during COVID-19. Already a popular production state due to its generous incentive program, Georgia has gotten renewed attention from filmmakers looking for a state with fewer restrictions on “non-essential businesses.”

Some of the state production guide’s common-sense proscriptions include sharing tools, devices and paper. The office instead recommends digital call sheets and other forms of paperless production solutions.

Need a way to onboard your crew, contact-free? Check out TiM Digital Onboarding.

Hawaii

The state is now issuing film permits for state public lands on a case-by-case basis. Certain counties have restrictions in place that may limit the number of production staff allowed in one location at a time.

The latest requirements articulated in executive order 21-07 from Governor David Ige, requires productions attest to crew vaccination status or a negative test results within 72 hours of the filming date. Production’s are also required to draft a COVID-19 safety plan with permit applications.

More information can be found on the Hawaii Film Office’s site.

Idaho

Idaho is in stage 4 of the Idaho Rebounds Plan, a phased approach to reopening the state economy for business. The state asks that productions adhere to social distancing and sanitation standards and follow CDC guidelines for in-person work.

The Department of Commerce’s Film division is standing by to provide you with the latest information for productions and help connect you with locations and crew members.

Illinois

On June 11, 2021 Illinois entered phase 5 of the Restore Illinois Framework. Lifting industry-specific restrictions and allowing the economy to fully reopen. Certain safety guidelines such as masks and social distancing are still recommended and permitting can vary based on locality.

The state largely took the lead of the Labor Management Safety Committee’s industry white paper and released its own production guidelines. The Chicago Film Office website has updated guidance for production in the city.

Looking for a deep dive on every film incentive in the U.S.? Explore our production incentives section to get started.

Indiana

Indiana doesn’t appear to have any mandates in effect affecting productions at the moment. Employers are encouraged to ask crew members to wear masks in closed indoor spaces.

Film Indiana stands as a resource to those looking to produce a film in the Hoosier state.

Iowa

While Iowa may not currently have any binding mandates for productions in the state, Produce Iowa published COVID-19 guidelines and local restrictions for filming in Iowa.

Kansas

There are currently no mask or vaccine requirement in Kansas. The state is open for production. The KC Film Office is encouraging vaccination or proof of negative test when producing and filming in Kansas City.

KC Film is also in it’s 8th version of recommended best practices for returning productions. This includes hiring an Infection Prevention Compliance Supervisor, frequently disinfecting shared spaces and equipment, staggered meals and more.

Kentucky

Kentucky’s COVID-19 restrictions ended mid-2021 effectively opening up restriction-free production. There is guidance set forth in this document by the Kentucky Department of Health that explains what productions should do to keep sets safe in the case of a positive case of COVID-19.

Louisiana

Louisiana is open for production, and though the state does not have specific production guidelines for COVID-19, Louisiana Entertainment, a division of Louisiana Economic Development, points to state-wide safety guidance for businesses.

Updates are available on the Louisiana Entertainment website. You can contact them directly at 225 342 5403.

The New Orleans film permitting office, Film New Orleans, has released its own PDF of COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines.

Maine

The state recommends wearing a mask in public and indoor spaces. Portland in particular instated a citywide mask mandate in January. There are no formal restrictions in place for productions. The state is prepared to host films. For the latest on COVID restrictions for productions, visit the Maine Film Office’s site.

As of this writing, Maine no longer requires a “COVID checklist,” interstate travel policy, gathering limits or face masks.

Maryland

Maryland has reopened to productions and started accepting applications on a first-come-first-serve basis for its FY2022 tax incentive in October 2021.

While mask mandates have been lifted at the state level, certain localities have instated mask and vaccine mandates. Contact [email protected] for information about the locality you plan on filming in.

The film office points to the industry white paper for best practices, but you can always find the most updated information on state production protocols at the Maryland Film Office website.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts has been fully open since May 2021 for production, lifting all previous COVID-19 restrictions after successfully completing a phased reopening plan.

Cities like Boston and Springfield may have further restrictions in place. Speak with a liaison at the MA Film Office for more information.

Michigan

Gathering limits and mask mandates ended in Michigan mid-2021. The state is now open to production. There are Michigan OSHA workplace standards to consider, however, that pertain to COVID safety.

Minnesota

Minnesota is open for business. Some localities, such as Minneapolis and others, have restrictions in place.

The Minnesota Film Office maintains a full guide to COVID-19 preparedness.

Mississippi

The state welcomes productions and maintains guidance for COVID-19 precautions called Shoot Healthy necessary for a working safely on set.

While the state doesn’t require masking, certain counties do. Be sure to contact local authorities or the film office liaison before production.

Missouri

Missouri is generally going by state guidelines for productions choosing to film during the pandemic, but the film office is referring productions to the Kansas City Film Office, which has put out its own Guidelines to COVID-Safe Production.

Highlights include establishing an Infection Prevention Compliance Supervisor Role on each production, taking temperatures on set, providing personal protective equipment and staggering meals.

Montana

Montana is open for filming, provided filmmakers follow general state COVID guidelines for social distancing. The mask mandate has been lifted. Individual responsibility is encouraged.

Production permits are considered on a case-by-case basis, in particular for public lands and federal agencies. National park permits are discouraged at this time but will be considered, again case-by-case.

The state asks producers to be particularly cognizant of Native American communities that may be especially vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19. Production must get approval from tribal administrations for shooting in these communities.

The film office further discourages, as general state production guidelines:

Contact the Montana Film Office for more information.

Nebraska

According to the Nebraska Film Office, the state never closed for production, so reopening filming was not an issue. Nebraska even garnered some publicity for its claim to the first feature film shot entirely using Facetime, and directed remotely via Google Connection during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Omaha and Lincoln masks are generally required in indoor spaces.

Nevada

Nevada has reopened production and is providing permits in some areas of the state for productions.

In terms of production guidelines, you can get updated information on Nevada production during the COVID-19 pandemic here.

The Nevada Film Office also provides a PDF with some basic production safety guidelines, but advises that if the production is part of a larger company (HBO and Netflix are given as examples), and is operating under a film permit, then following the company’s established COVID-19 production guidelines is the best practice for Nevada production.

New Hampshire

While permits are not required by the state, certain state parks and public lands do require a permit. Productions are welcome to work in New Hampshire with limited state-imposed restrictions.

The Visit New Hampshire has a filmmakers resource page with the necessary information for filming in the state.

New Hampshire is mostly recommending guidelines set forth by the CDC and has a hub for businesses operating in the state to answer any questions and to update restrictions.

New Jersey

New Jersey is reopened for filming, and doesn’t have particular state production guidelines beyond appropriate state and local work protocols: “Social distancing, sanitizing of equipment, use of masks and gloves to the fullest degree possible, and limiting the amount of cast and crew members on the set to only those required. Anyone who can work remotely without coming into contact with other cast and crew members should do so.”

The New Jersey Film Office also reminds production companies that they must obtain any required municipal or county permits depending on where in the state they will be filming.

New Mexico

New Mexico is open for production and has a number of requirements you need to meet before doing business. The New Mexico Film Office covers these necessities in full. Some of the requirements ask that productions follow one of the two industry joint labor agreements and provides a wealth of information for producer’s dealing with COVID-19 on set.

New York

New York State is in Phase 4 of reopening production, which allows film production to resume. Visit the film office page of the Empire State Development office for updated information.

Starting December 27, a vaccination mandate requires crew members working in person in New York City on a production that employs more than one person to be vaccinated. Productions must keep a record of crew vaccination status.

Thanks to a high rate of vaccination, the state has adopted CDC guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals.

The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment offers updated NYC film production guidelines.

North Carolina

No film-specific state production guidelines as of yet and North Carolina is not imposing any mandates at the state level.

Certain localities do have mask mandates in effect, according to the film office, so you’ll want to reach out to verify these rules ahead of time. You can find more COVID best practices from the film office.

North Dakota

The state is issuing permits and welcoming productions. COVID-19 restrictions are limited to CDC guidelines and encouragement from the department of health to receive the vaccine and wear a mask if unvaccinated.

Ohio

Most COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted in Ohio. Productions are welcome to film in the state. Reach out the Ohio Film Office for more information. Certain localities, such as Columbus, have slightly stricter requirements. Check cities and counties for additional safety mandates.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma completed their phased reopening plan, and no longer imposes restrictions. The film office still maintains an informative COVID-19 page to answer questions and make recommendations.

A detailed guide to COVID production from the film office entitled Filming During COVID-19: Considerations for Oklahoma Filmmaking was released in the early days of the pandemic. You may still find these guidelines useful for safely starting production in the state. It addresses special policies and procedures to reduce risk by film department, including: Art Department, Craft Services, Hair & Makeup, Casting, Location Scouting, Transportation and also addresses considerations for minors.

Oregon

Oregon’s doors are completely open for production. COVID restrictions were lifted state wide mid-2021, though some localities may have mandates. The Oregon Media Production Association (OMPA) posts the latest updates for safe production in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak on its website.

The state production guidelines were developed with the input of crew workers, actors, production companies, OMPA, Oregon Film and the Portland Film Office; they incorporate the industry white paper as a starting point. All Oregon productions are asked to have a written Health & Safety Plan that lays out specific procedures for adhering to the Oregon protocols and keeping crew and cast safe. The Oregon Protocols expressly do not override any “union, guild, government agency or local jurisdiction guidelines, or guidelines and regulations from insurance companies, production companies and studios & networks.”

Pennsylvania

The Keystone State is fully reopened for production. There currently no statewide vaccine mandates, though masking is still required in certain circumstances. Films in Philadelphia and other localities may be subjected to further restrictions or may be permitted to require employees to get vaccinated.

The PA Film Office is standing by to help you get rolling in Pennsylvania.

Rhode Island

Productions in Rhode Island are welcome but subject to requiring crew members to provide proof of vaccination or wear a mask – thanks to a recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

The Rhode Island Film and TV Office maintains a COVID-19 safety site with ample resources for running a safer set in the state.

South Carolina

South Carolina is fully reopened to productions without restrictions on the state level. Richland county may impose minimal restrictions. For more information on doing film business in SC, visit the SC Film Commission’s site.

South Dakota

Open for production, with no specific state production guidelines in place or planned.

Per the film office, any restrictions or provisions are being decided at the local level, so production is encouraged to connect with local government officials for permitting and information.

Certain tribal lands and federal lands may have further restrictions and permitting changes in place.

Tennessee

Tennessee is completely open for production with no mandates in place. Visit the Tennessee Film Commission’s site for help getting set up in the state.

Texas

The Lone Star State is open for production and encourages producer’s to work directly with local communities to meet their COVID-19 criteria.

Stay posted on the most up-to-date picture of production resources from the Texas Film Commission at the Texas Film Commission Coronavirus Resource and Response Page.

Utah

The state of Utah is fully reopened, free of mask or vaccine mandates. The Utah Film Commission is welcoming productions to the state.

Vermont

Vermont is completely open to productions in the state. The Vermont Department of Health maintains a page with the latest safety guidance.

Virginia

Productions are being accepted in the state of Virginia without state mandated restrictions. The Virginia Department of Health provides recommendations for people doing business in the state. Productions have the option to require masks on set.

Washington

Washington Filmworks maintains a safety leaflet detailing the requirements of productions in the state. Masks and vaccines are encouraged.

West Virginia

West Virginia is fully reopened and the West Virginia Film Office is ready to work with your production.

The state claims that all previously required guidance is no longer necessary. None of them are being imposed by the state and the state has actually disallowed localities from imposing certain measures. There are still resources available should your production need them.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin is open for production. Certain localities, such as Dane County may have further restrictions in place. Contact the Wisconsin Film Office for more information before starting production.

The state is providing a resource guide for workplace safety in the event of an outbreak on your set and detailed steps to avoid one.

Wyoming

The Cowboy State is fully open to productions. The Wyoming Department of Health recommends following CDC guidelines. Otherwise, there are no restrictions in place. Contact the Wyoming Film Office for more information about filming in the state.

Washington, DC

The District of Columbia is now accepting permit applications. The Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment requires a COVID safety plan and contact tracing protocols to be in place when applying for a permit. They also want you to appoint a safety officer for the production.

If your production requires safety approval from a federal agency, these permits will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Puerto Rico

The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico is accepting productions. There are restrictions in place that can complicate travel to to the island, which are in line with federal protocols. Travelers must prove vaccination status as well as provide a negative COVID test days within travel. For more information, contact the Puerto Rico Film Commission. They are ready to help you navigate COVID-19 protocols and help you film in the territory.

Do you know of other states with published COVID-19 production guidelines?

We want to know about and post all state production guidelines, so the production community can have a complete picture of production reopening protocols in the age of COVID-19.

Please send any links or tips to [email protected].

Please put safety first on set, regardless of state guidelines.

Remember, there is no shot that is worth putting the lives or health of your fellow crew members in jeopardy. Regardless of any state production guidelines, always practice safe production procedures and incorporate common-sense safeguards against the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses when reopening production.

Questions about production payroll? Start with our Entertainment Payroll 101.


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