A Guide to Film Production Planning Under COVID-19 Restrictions

May 11, 2020Alerts

As the country begins the reopening process, production planning has also commenced. But the myriad of local laws compounded by the sheer logistics of filming present a host of challenges for production companies. We have compiled a list of considerations for production planning as well as the current status of filming in popular production states.

  • Assess what businesses are permitted to open in the cities and/or states where you seek to film. Ensure filming is permitted under the particular phase of opening.
  • Ensure appropriate permits are being issued or determine any delay or limitations in issuing such permits.
  • Check the inbound and outbound travel restrictions for your departure and arrival cities. Many states have self-quarantine obligations for visitors arriving from certain states that may make a quick shoot unfeasible.
  • Check the PPE and social distancing requirements for the shoot, if any, and determine whether filming can be accomplished under such guidelines.
  • Contact your workers’ compensation carrier to discuss any local or practical changes in workers’ compensation coverage. Certain jurisdictions are passing laws protecting employees with a rebuttable presumption that COVID-19 is a work-related injury under particular circumstances.
  • Consider the risk to production employees, contractors and actors. Assumption of risk waivers may provide a degree of comfort for producers but are likely unenforceable against employee legal claims.

Below is information on the current state of play in select states: California, Florida, Georgia, New York and Texas.


Status: On-location film production is currently prohibited in California under state and local shelter-at-home orders.

Social Distancing: Many counties in California require people to wear masks in public.

Travel Restrictions: None

Links, Notes, Resources: California Film Commission: State Film Permits:, FilmLAFilm SF: Permit Application


Status: Filming is permitted in some areas of Florida. On-location film production is currently prohibited in Miami under state and local shelter-at-home orders. Although Florida has announced a phased reopening, Miami-Dade County is excluded — a clear sign that it will take longer to lift restrictions in Miami than other places in Florida.

Social Distancing: Face coverings are currently mandatory in Miami-Dade County “where social distancing measures are not possible[.]”

Travel Restrictions: Anyone traveling to Florida from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut or Louisiana must, upon entry to Florida, self-isolate or self-quarantine for 14 days, or for the duration of their presence in the state, whichever is shorter.

Links, Notes, Resources: Film Florida recently released a set of recommended industry guidelines for a safe return to film production. Although the guidelines are merely recommendations, they should be reviewed to determine if any would be easy to implement and improve safety on set.


Status: Georgia’s stay-at-home order has expired, except for people over age 65 or with vulnerable health conditions. Filming can take place, subject to two restrictions: (1) the production must take steps to mitigate the exposure and spread of COVID-19 to its workforce; and (2) “gatherings of persons” — defined as more than 10 persons physically present at a single location if, to be present, persons are required to stand or be seated within six feet of any other person — are prohibited for businesses not deemed “critical infrastructure.”

Social Distancing: No requirement exists in Georgia to wear face masks.

Travel Restrictions: No requirement exists for quarantining upon arrival in Georgia.

Links, Notes, Resources: State of Georgia Film Permits

New York

Status: On-location film production is currently prohibited in New York under the state PAUSE program.

Social Distancing: Governor Cuomo has ordered face coverings in public when maintaining social distance is not possible

Travel Restrictions: None.

Links, Notes, Resources: Through at least May 31, 2020, no new film permits will be granted, with the exception of film permits for the news media. New York City Permits: Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment.


Status: Texas is in the process of easing COVID-19 restrictions and reopening businesses statewide. So far, however, none of Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders or announcements have specifically addressed on-location film production. Accordingly, as of today, on-location film production is not permitted, but may be in the coming weeks.

Social Distancing: There is no statewide face covering mandate, and Gov. Abbott’s most recent executive order precludes local governments from imposing civil or criminal penalties on those who fail to wear a face covering. The City of Austin currently required people over age 10 to wear a face covering when in public (absent a few exceptions). In theory, the city could shut down filming if someone on set fails to wear a face covering.

Travel Restrictions: Currently, anyone who flies to Texas from any of the following states: California, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey or Washington or cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit or Miami, must self-quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into Texas or the duration of the person’s presence in Texas, whichever is shorter.

Links, Notes, Resources: Guidance for filming in Austin may be found here.

If you have questions about this alert, contact Sahara Pynes at [email protected], Lee Szor at [email protected] or any member of the firm's national Labor & Employment or Entertainment & Sports Law departments.