A GROUP of experts are banding together to help the film and TV industry emerge from lockdown.

The Covid Close Protection Unit (CCPU), launched by a Hampshire-based studio entrepreneur, aims to ensure location and studio filming runs smoothly and safety, protected against the risk of coronavirus.

It brings together six professionals whose experience spans film location management, pandemic emergency response, medical support, police and military operations, incident command and strategic security.

They are offering their services to films and high-end TV productions – those with a budget of £1million or more.

Ben Joel, co-founder of the unit and owner of Apex Studios in Droxford, said: “Our vision is that no-one will contract Covid-19 on a CCPU site.

“Between us, we have decades of experience in practical filming coupled with crisis scenarios and dynamic risk environments.

“We’re applying that knowledge and insight to help the industry get back on its feet after the pandemic.

“While the government has finally approved Covid safety guidance for shoots, the virus is generally excluded as an insurable risk. That means film and TV companies, and their backers, will run a very high level of financial risk if a production is delayed due to the infection of a cast or crew member.”

His colleagues include Duncan Massey, a safety consultant to the BBC for more than 30 years; Chris Weigold, a former major incident commander with 40 years’ experience; and Sam Thomas, a medical professional used to providing on-site support and advice at film and TV shoots.

Mr Massey said: “As production crews try to interpret and follow the new pandemic safety guidelines, they can turn to us for help with all aspects of implementation.”

Mr Joel added: “There is a long way to go before we are back to pre-lockdown levels of production in the UK, but a few shoots are now beginning to go ahead.

“Some productions rely on summer weather and conditions. These need to be captured now, otherwise we will face a crippling lack of film and programme content in the autumn and winter.

“We’re used to working under crisis conditions and ensuring people keep social distance. We have that mindset.

“We’ve already done this at Apex Studios, for ourselves, and we’re now ready to roll as a wider industry service whether that’s for film, TV, adverts or music videos, both indoor and outdoor.”

The UK’s film and high-end TV industry was valued at £3.6billion last year.


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