New Guidelines for Background Post COVID


The RABS App has been expanded to meet new safety & health guidelines. As the AMPTP and union guidelines have recommended, there should be protocols specific to background and extras that are separate from crew. We’d previously hypothesized about the protocols, here, and now that the guidelines are released, we’d like to put forth what we call the PPE model for background:

P – Prevent

P – Prepare

E – Examine


Prevent background talent who have been exposed to or are carriers of COVID from arrival and you will run a safe and sanitary set. RABS can help.

Prepare background to be smart before they work, and you will run a safe and sanitary set. Train them before they arrive. RABS can help.

Examine that background are healthy, have received your training, and where you can, test. Test them in the parking lot or before holding, whether it’s with a thermometer or otherwise, before background enter the van of one of your teamsters.

What the RABS App Can Do To Help:

RABS has implemented tools to efficiently manage the new guidelines. The new services are at NO ADDITIONAL COST to production: 

Safety Interactive Training, SIT, for all background.  Shows that use RABS can provide video, quizzes, questionnaires, and infographics through the app to background for training. SIT can be used to certify health status and to train background before arrival. SIT allows you to Prevent and to Prepare.

Updated digital documents. RABS will include any new digital documents, such as health certification forms, atop of our digital vouchers, i-9s, releases, etc. 

RABS Takeaways From the Guidelines:

– Studios are going to advocate for digital background vouchers and digital background startwork. While this should be self explanatory, using digital background vouchers and digital background startwork will reduce touch points, hand to hand exchanging, and grouping.

– Crews may want paperless communication with background casting, like photo selects and breakdowns. Continuing the paperless trend, the more background casting can create paperless and smart sharing solutions for their ADs and Directors, the better.

– Background may have to accept health and safety training protocol as a term of their employment. This could pose questions of HIPAA compliance, so studios should proceed cautiously.

– Background should receive health & safety training, prior to arrival or on set. Productions will likely be implementing new sanitary standards. It’d be productive to provide an interactive training to background.

– Background will be expected to wear PPE, and PPE will be provided by the show. There may be PPE standards which are monitored by new on set safety officers.

– There will likely be safety officers on set, responsible for temperature checks, and enforcing the new on set protocols. Hopefully, this new department is an extension of the set medics, and responsibility doesn’t fall on the ADs.

– If tests become readily available, testing will be mandated. Testing will likely occur in separated areas, to avoid contamination risk. We’d advise in parking lots, before any interaction with teamsters.

– Buffets will go away. Background may be separated from crew during meals. Some studios may transition into boxed meals. What does this mean for crafty?

– Cancelation will be encouraged. Paid time off will be encouraged. We imagine the transition will be most challenging for SAG-AFTA member background. SAG-AFTRA member background are accustomed to paper vouchers, eating with the crew, and are conscientious when it comes to cancelations.

– Background payroll will be encouraged to transition to direct deposit. Although, we can’t see this happening. Background and extras payroll have been issuing checks since the beginning of time. Ultimately, the end product of payment is one of the lowest risk elements of a safe return.

RABS goal is to ensure the new protocols, to the degree we can, aren’t foisted onto casting, payroll, or crew. We obviously want shows to move away from paper and towards RABS technology. We didn’t want this to be the reason why, but what can we do about that besides adapt? 


For visuals on Safety Interactive Training: SIT

Tips on your RABS Digital Voucher: Tips for the RABS Digital Voucher

Linkedin: JW LinkedIn


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