Maintaining set safety should be a top priority on any production, but the often unique and oddly specific requirements of crafting movie magic can make determining the best way to do so more challenging than you might expect.
To help producers meet this challenge, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have researched and developed an extensive set of safety bulletins that outline best practices for safely shooting under a wide variety of conditions.
In this post, we’ll introduce you to the AMPTP Safety Bulletins, tell you exactly why you should be using them, and give you everything you need to put them into action on your next shoot.
Let’s start with a little background.
You’ll find the AMPTP Safety Bulletins on the website for the organization known as Contract Services, but the documents themselves are researched and written by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers’ Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee.
To give you an idea of the authority behind the safety bulletins, let’s take a moment to discuss both organizations.
Other than being a mouthful, the AMPTP’s Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee is a committee within the AMPTP. They are dedicated to maintaining high standards of safety within the industries of film and television production.
And as far as the safety game goes, these folks represent the major leagues.
The committee is “composed of guild, union, and management representatives active in industry safety and health programs,” making it one of the most diverse and well-rounded safety authorities in the American film industry.
In constructing the AMPTP Safety Bulletins, the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee conducts painstaking and wide-ranging research to outline an industry standard approach to safety within each situation for which they publish a safety bulletin.
Contract Services is an organization that exists to “carry out the required provisions of the collective bargaining agreements between the film and television industry’s West Coast Studio Local Unions and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).”
Contract Services consolidates the legal and regulatory obligations that must be implemented by the studios named in the collective bargaining agreements mentioned above, which means that they provide third-party services to coordinate major studios with the unions and guilds that provide studio labor.
As a separate organization, Contract Services facilitates many important procedures that keep production moving, including the provision of safety training.
Given its place in the film industry, Contract Services is a significant authority on safe production procedures.
Now that we know who’s behind the AMPTP Safety Bulletins, let’s take a look at the bulletins themselves.
The AMPTP Safety Bulletins are a set of documents designed to clarify the best safety practices for producing film or television within a wide variety of specific conditions.
Most experienced producers understand set safety for an average shoot day, but how many of them, for example, know the best practices for shooting on a moving speedboat? Do you think many of them know exactly how to safely shoot a skydiving sequence? What about shooting with animals, poisonous plants, or hot air balloons?
The nature of film production often demands unusual circumstances to make something unique or incredible.
Unusual circumstances, in turn, create unusual safety concerns.
The AMPTP Safety Bulletins seek to alleviate these concerns by creating a single, reliable, and thorough source of information that describes exactly what to do when a production faces one or more unusual safety circumstances.
There are dozens of bulletins for dozens of situations currently in circulation, and each bulletin has been written in an effort to create an industry standard for safe operation within the situation it describes. A great deal of time, effort, and, most importantly, research, goes into designing each individual safety bulletin.
Critically, the AMPTP Safety Bulletins are recommendations, not binding laws or regulations. If a federal, state, or local law overrides a bulletin’s guidelines for one reason or another, it is the law that must be followed, not the guideline.
Similarly, the safety bulletins are living documents, not stone tablets. If a situation calls for the institution of additional safety procedures, the guidelines set by the safety bulletin should be modified to accommodate the new concerns.
The AMPTP Safety Bulletins provide a resource that is undoubtedly extensive, comprehensive, and flexible.
But how are we so sure they’re valuable?
Used correctly, the AMPTP Safety Bulletins can be a powerful addition to any production’s safety toolkit.
Like production insurance, child actor labor laws, and COVID-19 Safety Officers, the AMPTP Safety Bulletins exist to keep laborers in the film industry as safe as possible on and around sets. They provide industry standard guidelines to keep cast and crew safe in situations where proper safety procedures might not otherwise be obvious.
In other words, producers should use the AMPTP Safety Bulletins because they prevent injuries and save lives.
But the bulletins can be used to protect more than just the cast and crew’s lives.
They can also help protect the production itself.
If properly distributed and adhered to, the safety bulletins can act as evidence of a production’s commitment to safety. In the event of a lawsuit, the presence of a distributed safety bulletin could protect the production from undue accusations of wrongdoing.
Said another way, producers should use the AMPTP Safety Bulletins because doing so is in their own best interests.
And if that’s somehow still not enough to convince you of their value, consider this:
You can use the AMPTP Safety Bulletins at zero cost to the production. Anyone with an internet connection can access the bulletins, reproduce the bulletins, and distribute them to anyone they please.
Producers should use these bulletins because there’s simply no reason not to.
With that in mind, let’s check them out.
Before we jump into a description of how to put a bulletin to use on your next production, take a moment to check out the current list of AMPTP Safety Bulletins below.
From extreme weather to specialized equipment to working in the vicinity of wild animals, the AMPTP Safety Bulletins have the information you need to keep your cast and crew safe in nearly any situation.
Spanish language versions of the following safety bulletins can also be found on the Contract Services website.
Download and store your safety bulletins on your desktop, drive, or within Wrapbook. Just like all of your other startwork paperwork, store them in your documents tab in the software and disseminate them to everyone on your cast and crew list.
If you use Wrapbook to export your cast and crew info to create call sheets, you can even add a link to the bulletin on the call sheet.
Putting an AMPTP Safety Bulletin to use is relatively straightforward.
Once you’ve selected a safety bulletin appropriate for your shoot’s circumstances, the most basic step you can then take is to send a copy of it out with your cast and crew’s call sheets, as mentioned above.
All personnel working on your production have a legal and moral responsibility to practice safety, and the bulletins make that responsibility easier, clearer, and more efficient to bear. Attaching one to your call sheet ensures that cast and crew are aware of the AMPTP’s recommendations.
But attaching it to your call sheet is also to your advantage.
Doing so ensures that you’ve fulfilled a significant part of your safety obligation by making sure all cast and crew are adequately informed.
Once you’ve selected the right AMPTP Safety Bulletin, follow its directions.
The AMPTP Safety Bulletins outline the best safety practices to follow in a wide variety of shooting circumstances. If you find yourself in circumstances that line up with one of the bulletins, the absolute best thing you can do is to follow the safety guidelines that it outlines.
It’s that simple.
Following the guidelines set forth by an AMPTP Safety Bulletin may require more effort or expense on behalf of your production, but any price is small in exchange for the safety of your cast and crew.
Maintaining safety should be a top priority for any producer, and the AMPTP Safety Bulletins offer a powerful tool for doing exactly that.
If you’re facing a unique situation on your next shoot and don’t see a bulletin that matches your needs, be sure to check out the complete list of current AMPTP Safety Bulletins. The AMPTP and Contract Services update their library every time a new safety bulletin is published.
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