0025: How COVID Affected My First On-Set TV Booking

Pick your format. Video:

…or audio:

Show notes

Hey there, hero!

I didn’t see this coming, but I happened to have been fortunate enough to be one of the first actors back to work on a network TV show after production resumed a few weeks ago.

Although I’m still under NDA, I wanted to give you a look behind the scenes of my shoot day, especially since Access Hollywood did a story on my particular “intimate” scene in their look at production during the pandemic. You’ll see your boy in the story.

I can’t say what the show is, although I am told it should air on 8/12. If I don’t hear anything about a delay in the airing, I’ll update these show notes with the show, network, airtime etc.

And I’d love to answer any questions that I’m able in the comments below.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Super cool David H Lawrence XVII Looking forward to watch it. It will be interesting to see then I’m sure I’ll have questions after that.

  2. Covid Coordinator – new job in Hollywood

    interesting re: BYOW = bringing your own wardrobe = SMART 😀

    9:11 (cough) DOH!!! no coughing on set!
    nice to hear they found a way to act without CGI

    exciting things starting back up again! YAY!
    how awesome that you were one of the 1st to get back to work in Hollywood.

    can’t wait to see the scene you were in and have you on my show tomorrow to talk about this a bit… without revealing the show.

    gosh – it’s like watching Heroes again!
    you’ve got me in suspense now!

  3. Creativity and ingenuity at its finest! I love the way people in our industry are thinking outside of the box. Thank you for sharing this message of hope that things can still get back to normal. It seems like in these times actors that are “cleared” and tested for vivid could be utilized more as recurring even with different wardrobe, etc

  4. Congratulations on the booking and by offer!! Thanks so much for sharing the info before and on set! Did they set up the test for you? Was it at the studio? How many days between booking and test and then being on set?

  5. I loved the almost-inside look at TV (and movie, I hope) production. Creative solutions! And congrats on being one of the first back to work.

    Seeing these creative solutions put into moron will spark other solutions for other industries. Bravo! Thanks, David.

  6. Great positive share David. I was curious as to how and when the industry would return. You gave a wonderful insight on the process. Happy to hear my Coach was offered the job on his talent, you David!

  7. Thank you so much for this! Very informative. It makes me feel much more comfortable taking an on set job. I live in NYC, so most of us don’t have a car and my one concern is how we would get to a location shoot. I still don’t feel comfortable taking a train or subway and it’s not clear yet how those challenges of transportation will be solved. Thanks again.

  8. Thanks for the interesting window into Covid Hollywood. I did a vo job in June. I had to do it in studio because it was an update to a previous piece recorded in January and had to match. They made it very easy and contact free. I went in in mask and only took it off in the booth. The staff who let me in and the engineer were masked and kept their distance. The client and project manager called into the session from home. They had called me at home the morning of the recording to ask screening questions (temperature, etc). Testing in our area was not really available and results were taking 10 days to come back, so there was no swab testing. I realized that it was the furthest I had been from home since February 28th. It was nice to feel secure that they were taking care as much as possible.

  9. Thanks, David, this was really helpful. It lets me know what the high bar should be for non-union sets, particularly having a COVID Safety Coordinator. While not all non-union sets will comply with union standards, I can at least make an informed decision whether or not I wish to participate.

    1. i’m also curious about their approach to air quality/ventilation. i’m very happy for all of the precautions they took with your set. wonderful! but i do wonder/worry about a lot of people in one room for a longer period of time… (that said, they did take your vitals, so that’s great. i wonder if they’ll start to implement quick tests…)

  10. Hi David. Very important and well thought out info. I love the creativity that went into your scene. Very smart thinking. I, too, experienced the same feeling of comfort and safety as I was quarantined on Tyler Perry’s studio lot for 2 1/2 weeks while shooting SISTAS. We were tested every 4 days (As well as twice prior to arriving in Atlanta on a private plane) and maintained social distancing and mask wearing the whole time. Because we were in a “bubble”, no one in or out, we maintained Covid negativity and we’re able to shoot our whole season. It is a strange new world, this new normal.

  11. I had to have a nasal swab test at the end of May due to knee surgery. It was intense. It felt like my brain was being swabbed. I have been reading about using mannequins on set for intimate scenes- so interesting. And also, a creative work around. I am glad that the COVID compliance officer was on set and on top of it. I know it’s a new position but that does make me feel safer to return to big sets. I have booked a couple of small things (both NON UNION) that didn’t a require a compliance officer but many safety measures were put in place and adhered to. As an actor who works both Union and Non Union gigs based on where I live- bringing wardrobe has been a big part of career but I can see how it might become more of a thing for smaller roles or day players that don’t require specialty costumes. Bottom line is if you don’t feel comfortable you should be your own best advocate on set. For me, there is definitely apprehension but I try to make sure I set myself up for success and also quarantine the rest of the time to keep others safe. Thanks for sharing your experience. Looking forward to watching the show.

  12. This was just fantastic David. Thank you so much! I, like you, feel inspired and more hopeful from your experience, as well as more informed. Having watched the recent SAG-AFTRA webinar on new protocols, it was great to hear how all of them were implemented to the letter. CONGRATS on the gig and here’s to more!!

  13. Congrats David, and thanks for sharing your on-set experience! I recently booked my second ever on-camera job and did the filming this past Saturday (woohoo!!!). We were shooting in a part of New Hampshire with no active cases of Covid and only 7 confirmed cases on record. There was no Covid Coordinator, there was about 14 people on set, and only a couple of people were wearing masks for a short time. We were fist-bumping after a good take. Social distancing occurred in the form of people being careful not to shake hands or hug, and people were reminded to wash their hands. It’s interesting to see how different things are depending on where you are. I look forward to seeing your part on the show.

  14. Thanks, David. Just heard about this after an informal SAG-AFTRA meeting in DFW. This is indeed informative and a FANTASTIC testimony for why the UNION is so important to us performers. I am wowed my the precautions and ingenuity. Thanks for sharing!

  15. This really alleviated a lot of my concerns. Thank you for sharing your experience On this episode. I have a little less stress because of it. ??

  16. I got a text the other day from a local CD asking about my availability for a film being shot in Philly starting in October. Here’s what’s involved for BG in this film:

    “We want to check your availability for HUSTLE on 10/6/2020 and show your pic to the director. You’d be a (U) Maintenance worker and be paid $178/8. It’s shooting in PHILADELPHIA PA. Please reply ASAP. This role will also be required to be Covid tested on 10/2, and live in a production-supplied hotel for three days previous to the shoot date. All days are PAID. Reply Y if available. Reply N to decline”

    I checked with the local SAG AFTRA office to see if we get paid to go and get tested, like we do for a fitting, and they said yes. This could be a very interesting experience. I hope I book it, if only so I can spend three days in a hotel like I’m on vacation.

      1. Will do. I have this inactive blog about my life as a background actor called “Don’t Blink!” that I may revive if I book this, seeing as I’ll have three days to myself and my Google Chrome laptop doesn’t work with Audacity, so I can’t work on my podcast, or the audio books I’m doing (four for one author over the next two years, thanks to your teachings), or my music, since Google Chrome also doesn’t work with Muse Score. Ah, first world problems…

        1. Well, I didn’t book the job I mentioned, but I DID book a day on “Mare of Easttown”, an HBO series starring Kate Winslet. One day of actual work was paid as two days, as I spent the day before actually shooting getting a COVID test and quarantining in a Holiday Inn 10 miles from where we actually shot.

          This was so different from what I’ve become used to working background. Over the weekend prior to my working I had to watch training videos from Warner Bros., the Georgia Film Academy (those are the best ones I’ve seen. David, you should look at them as examples for the VO Heroes section on industrials) and HBO, taking quizzes to make sure that I understood the concepts. I had to send pictures of items from my wardrobe for those folks to pick out what I should wear that day. I filled out my voucher virtually (the tidiest they’ve ever looked). I got my temperature taken, a second COVID test an a N95 mask when I arrived on set. Lunch was ordered on a green menu and delivered in a brown bag. There was one other background person, not the usual slew, and I was the only one used that day, driving my car in and out of a shot for 1/10th of a mile. A pretty easy day overall.

          I hope that a lot of these practices stay in place, like filling out the voucher online and having my wardrobe OK’d before I leave from home, but I’ll be glad when I can see everyone’s faces again.