Safety Guidelines for Student Film Shoots During COVID-19 Pandemic

Dear CMA Students,

Thank you for sending us your many concerns, especially in the letter you have circulated regarding the complex situation that we face this semester. First, I wanted to acknowledge that we have received your concerns, and to assure you that we will continue to respond with updates as we receive further guidelines about how Ontario’s emergency stay-at-home order affects our programs. As you will understand, we are required to adhere to health and safety protocols and any legal implications of the stay-at-home order. We are working with offices across York University to understand and comply with the province’s order. As we recognize that these are requirements, we also wish to outline the options all AMPD students have to complete their coursework for the Winter 2021 semester.

We would like to advise you on several key points:

  • In the Fall the editing suites were not available, but they are available in the Winter 2021 semester for those students enrolled in courses that require them. Editing suites are bookable through Jonathan Hedley ( This change was announced at previous Production Area meetings.
  • The Equipment Room has remained open to book out equipment since September and is still available to students through the Winter term. It is open 7 days per week. Availability of equipment is based on the year and course of study. Please visit Film411 for details and to access the online equipment request forms. Please note that is now taking longer to turn over equipment when it is returned to the Equipment Room due to the need for enhanced cleaning procedures.
  • We have today received confirmation that the current guidelines do allow for outside gatherings provided there are not more than five people. This means that students are approved to shoot individually or in groups up to 5 outside while off campus. Students continue to be permitted to film in groups up to 5 outside while on campus, and in groups up to 10 in approved campus buildings. Please follow all health and safety protocols as outlined by the province at all times, including wearing masks, physical distancing, and regularly washing your hands.
  • While students can film in groups of 5 outside, casts and crews made up of students from different households cannot gather inside a single household for a film shoot. This act would breach the stay-at-home order’s specific requirement that households do not mix inside private residences. A shoot inside your own home can proceed only with members of the household in question.
  • Please note that while filmmaking has been designated as essential under the new stay-at-home order for the professional film industry, this does not apply to post-secondary training in film production. We must abide by the guidelines given to universities.
  • While the province’s current stay-at-home order is set to end on 10 February 2021, the AMPD Dean’s office is working on the presumption that the order will be extended potentially through the end of the semester. We are planning on this basis, with the option of changing course if the order is indeed lifted.

Please note that these points constitute what we know as of this moment. We recognize that at any time there could be a change in direction issued by our public health authorities and the provincial government. We all need to comply with public health guidelines. As always, please visit the YU Better Together website ( for up-to-date information.

I want to personally thank you for your patience and your perseverance. This semester presents us with extraordinary circumstances. While we work to ensure that you may complete your semester, the health and safety of our students, staff and instructors are our first priority.


With kind regards,

Mike Darroch


January 15, 2021

We continue to seek further information and clarification about the implications of the emergency stay-at-home order for film shoots. At this time, we have received the following information:

  • No more than 6 people can shoot outside on campus.
  • No more than 10 people can shoot inside on campus, in approved spaces meeting physical distancing requirements.
  • There are no approved film shoots off campus with the exception of a shoot inside your own home, with your own household unit only (no crew).

We are still investigating the possibility of students fulfilling course obligations by shooting individually off campus. While we must all comply with the legal requirements associated with the emergency decree, we are seeking clear guidance on the ways in which students may safely undertake their work while adhering to the public health guidelines and will be updating information on this site as we receive it. 

Thank you to our students, staff, and instructors for your extraordinary patience while we respond to the changing circumstances of our semester.

Michael Darroch, Ph.D.

Associate Dean, Academic

Associate Professor of Cinema & Media Arts

School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design

Status of York University during the pandemic


Students who will be engaging as part of their course work for on-location or in studio film shoots are to familiarize themselves with York University’s COVID-19 protocols and resources found at:

These strategies are transferrable to crew activities and it is recommended that crew sizes be kept to an absolute minimum (6 or less preferable) to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

In Section 21 of Film and Television Health and Safety Advisory Committee of the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, general advice is provided which mirrors those recommendations provided by York University:

  • Perform daily self-screening at home prior to coming to a workplace (e.g. campus and/or your location shoot, for example, by using the online self-assessment).
  • If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have symptoms you should get tested and NOT attend any workplace.
  • If you are currently required to self-quarantine or isolate due to a quarantine order or direction from public health (e.g. due to contact with an infected individual or after travel from outside Canada) you should not attend the workplace.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for twenty seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (between 60% to 90% alcohol).
  • If you use a tissue, discard immediately and wash your hands afterward.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Wear a nose and mouth face covering while indoors during classes and film shoots, and when physical distancing of 2 metres cannot be maintained.For crews, industry best practices are recommended, but not limited to:
  • Keeping the crew size to absolute minimum (6 or less preferred);
  • Establishing and posting a notice about the maximum number of individuals who may be present in an area. (Note for CFT 130, physical distancing occupancy has been set as for all teaching spaces at York.  You can also conduct a film shoot within a Cinema & Media Arts designated studio upon being scheduled.  You may not utilize common hallways/indoor public spaces at this time)
  • Implement screening protocols by requiring individuals to self-assess before attending a shoot.
  • Limiting access to one entry and one exit point where possible.
  • Keeping a sign-in/sign-out record of who comes onto your set (name, phone number, e-mail).  Should a member of your crew become ill, this will enable Toronto Public Health (or applicable municipal public health unit) contact tracing information.
  • Sending anyone home who becomes symptomatic while on a shoot.  Having them not participate if they are ill.
  • Cleaning and sanitizing equipment and sets before and after use.
  • Avoid sharing equipment and camera kit pieces.
  • Maintaining a supply of personal protective equipment e.g. non-medical face masks, latex or nitrile gloves, face shields etc.
  • Establishing a protocol for food services/handling if applicable.
  • Follow the Film & Television COVID-19 Guidance on the use of Hair/make-up & wardrobe (starting on page 27).
  • Determine whether the municipality you will be doing your film shoot in, allows for the activity especially in an outdoor setting.
  • For actors/performers, please refer to the Film & Television COVID-19 Guidance on Performers (starting on page 34) for best practices that best suit your project.

Always consult your course instructor for guidance and the film411 website for further information.