FIVE BEDROOMS SETS BEST PRACTICE FOR COVID-SAFE FILMING

Line producer Ben Grogan shares valuable insights on how they were able to return to production safely to complete filming on their second season.

Australian comedy drama Five Bedrooms is one of those shows that the cast and crew love filming as much as audiences love watching.

So when production of the second season was paused due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in March, everyone behind the scenes, from the broadcaster, Network 10, to the production company, Hoodlum Entertainment, to the show’s creators and heads of department, starting asking themselves “how can we keep the cast and crew safe and finish this show that we’ve all had a great time making?”.

It took many hours of discussions and detailed planning, but in mid-June, in line with Victoria’s public health restrictions for workplaces, the cameras were rolling once again on Five Bedrooms season 2 in Melbourne.

“It was a monumental team effort that enabled production to resume. In consultation with government agencies and our stakeholders, of particular note, Film Victoria’s Production Services Team, who kept us updated and supported so we were ready to safely return to filming the moment the opportunity presented,” said Hoodlum Entertainment’s Executive Producer, Nathan Mayfield.

On the eve of production resuming, writer Michael Lucas, who co-created the show with Christine Bartlett, tweeted “Scripts are tweaked, hand sanitiser is stocked and our amazing cast is ready to walk back into scenes they began three months ago”.

The series, which follows five people at different times in the lives who meet after being seated together at the singles table at a wedding and decide to buy a house together, streams on Peacock in the United States.

In order to make sure they could safely film the remaining four episodes, the producers adhered to the Victorian Government’s WorkSafe guidelines and the Australian Screen Production Industry COVID-Safe Guidelines developed by the Australian Screen Sector Task Force, supplementing these with individual safety plans for department heads.

Line Producer Ben Grogan said the single most challenging thing about filming in a coronavirus (COVID-19) environment was trying to think of every detail, but by breaking it down, scene by scene, space by space and department by department, they were able to make it work.

“It’s the detail that’s the most challenging. The simplest thing, getting a make-up bag from unit base to location, how do we do that safely? To be sanitising your hands constantly. Sanitising equipment constantly. Thinking about how exactly departments are going to be split up. The constant brain retraining that’s required to be aware of being 1.5 meters apart from people,” he said.

“Yes, it’s a very different looking set to what it was. But it can be done.”

Watch Film Victoria’s full interview about COVID-safe filming on Five Bedrooms season 2 with Ben.

To find out more about COVID-safe filming in Victoria contact Joe Brinkmann, Manager, Production Attraction & Support, Film Victoria at [email protected]