Filming & stills production during COVID-19: How we’re working safely


Sugar Free TV are pleased to announce that our production services for filming & stills are all active and operational.

While the world stopped still at the very peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we didn’t sit back and wait for it all to blow over. Behind the scenes, we were putting together an action plan detailing how we can resume operations safely as and when we were able to do so.

Our quick thinking gave us a head start, and after closely monitoring UK Government guidelines, we were ready and raring to go when given the green light. We’re now a few months into our new way of working and can confidently say that we are succeeding in regards to keeping our clients and staff safe on set, whilst upholding the same high quality standards of shooting that Sugar Free TV has built its reputation on.

While it’s not strictly ‘business as usual’ – and we expect that it won’t be for some time – we have been quick to adapt to the new changes, and are able to work to our full potential with minimal disruption.

temperature check area at film shoots

We’re COVID-19 secure

We wouldn’t expect you to take our word for it, so we have the qualifications to prove it. Proactive in our approach to returning to work safely, we first and foremost ensured that all of our staff received the necessary training to prepare them for working through this period.

We have all undertaken the APA Covid-19 Assessment, achieving Covid Supervisor qualifications. Further to that, our team have completed First Option Safety Consultants’ ‘Managing COVID-19 Risks on Production’ course, and received the accompanying certifications.

Through this, we have gained invaluable knowledge of Covid risk management protocols & procedures, all of which have been applied to our production shoots.

How COVID-19 has changed the production process

Every member of the TV & Production Industry experienced first hand the unprecedented disruption that the COVID-19 outbreak caused, with filming being stopped in its tracks and producers, casts & crews having to process the damaging impacts firsthand.

Fortunately, with lockdown restrictions continuing to ease, we’re now back in a place where creativity can resume. However, with the threat of the virus still ever present, with this comes a lot of changes to the way production companies operate.

filming during covid

Here’s an insight into some of the measures we’re taking to ensure the health and safety of all involved during our productions, and why we’re doing it.


One of the major problems that production companies like ourselves are now facing, is being able to gain access to certain filming locations. The pandemic has seen some venues close, yet to reopen. In other instances, locations are not yet safe for shooting. 

Fortunately for us, being based in Manchester, we are surrounded by a whole host of fantastic shooting locations both in the city centre and nearby. This means that while we may not be able to access certain locations, we’re not limited by choice and can always find a suitable alternative.

manchester city centre

In regards to being on set, we will be operating with reduced crew numbers for the foreseeable future in order to be able to correctly adhere to social distancing (more on this below). This, however, will not affect the efficiency or quality of shooting and simply means that we will be working with minimal crew members inside at any one time. To do this, we’ll be implementing crew ‘holding areas’ outdoors where possible.

A number of safety and cleaning procedures will be put into place for all location and studio shoots, with all cast and crew being briefed in full prior to shooting commencing.

While all of the above precautions have been put into place to ensure safe shooting, we recognise that there may still be occasions where conventional shoots aren’t always feasible, whether that be due to travel restrictions or any other limiting circumstances. To accommodate for these instances, we have a great range of solutions available including remote shooting, video streaming and online clip access.


Although the familiar sight of the lunch queue in front of the caterers is no longer possible, we’ll make sure you don’t go without a freshly prepared meal. Meals will instead be pre-boxed and ready for collection, with the ability to pre-order where possible. In the event that catering is not possible due to any Covid related constraints, crew will be subsidised for bringing their own food from home.

Times will also be staggered to allow for adequate social distancing when collecting meals.

Risk assessments

The nature of filming, shooting and production means that we’re regularly setting up bases at different locations, all of which could pose different health and safety risks to cast and crew. In the interest of the health and safety of our team, risk assessments of each location have always been our top priority.

However, with COVID-19 still very much being an ongoing threat, we are now committed to carrying out more in-depth risk assessments, of which involve identifying any potential COVID-19 risks. This will be done prior to every shoot, regardless of whether we have filmed in the location before, and results will be shared with everyone before attending.

As we all know, when coming into contact with others from outside of your household, the risk of transmission is greater. We don’t want to put anyone at risk, which is why all of our cast and crew must sign a health declaration before every shoot. 

This is to confirm that they are not showing any symptoms of COVID-19, neither have they been in contact with anyone who is. It will also confirm that they have not travelled to any high risk areas within the previous 14 days. As always, everyone’s health and safety remains our top priority.

Government guidelines regarding social distancing, personal hygiene and PPE are to be followed strictly on all of our sets in order to protect everyone involved. Here are some of the ways we’re implementing them on our shoots:

Social distancing, hand sanitising & PPE

In line with current government guidelines, we will be ensuring that the correct procedures regarding personal hygiene and protection are in place at every shoot.

At present, we are providing face masks and gloves to all cast and crew, mandatory to be worn wherever possible. This however, does not eliminate the need for social distancing – of which our on-set rules are to stay 1 metre plus apart where possible.


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To clarify this, all of our crew are expected to maintain 2 metre social distancing. However, we do know that this may not always be possible, so under those circumstances 1 metre will be the absolute minimum with appropriate risk mitigation in place. In the event that no social distancing is possible, full PPE will be provided and worn by the necessary crew members.

Personal hygiene and ensuring the cleanliness of surfaces and equipment is mandatory at every shoot. We will be providing multiple hygiene stations with hand sanitisers and anti-bacterial wipes at each set, and everyone will be encouraged to make regular use of them.

Covid stewards assigned to all shoots

With the wellbeing of our team, cast and crew being top priority, we will be assigning a dedicated Covid steward to each and every shoot.

It’s no secret that shooting on set can get a little chaotic, but at this moment in time it’s important that we’re adhering to the guidelines to keep everyone safe. Therefore, the role of the steward will be to ensure that all protocols are being observed and the correct procedures being put into place.

Whilst overseeing the organisation and operation of every shoot, the Covid steward will also take responsibility for hourly cleaning to prevent the possible transmission of germs and viruses, whilst also monitoring the symptoms of everyone on set.

covid cleaning

With this, we will ensure that all involved are aware of who the designated Covid steward is, in the event that they have any concerns or feel like they may be developing symptoms which will need to be reported on immediately.


In light of the current situation, we’d like to reassure all clients and agencies that we are operating a tight ship in regards to keeping everyone safe whilst allowing shooting to proceed as normal. Should you want to work with us, you will be provided with a full brief on our procedures and what to expect on the day. 

Find out more about what’s changed in the way we’re working, detailed in our COVID-19 Policy here.

Looking for a production company in Manchester? We’re based in the city centre, but service the North West and further afield. Get in touch with us to make an enquiry or find out more about our services.

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