American Chopper executive producer Franco Porporino (coordinating producer, Regular Heroes) is starting a business called COVID Film Certification to educate production crews and talent on set as Hollywood resumes production.
He’s calling it a one-stop shop for non-scripted television, the area he knowns best. It offers – alone or in combination — industry-specific safety exams for production personnel, crew and talent on CDC guidelines and other best practices on set; compliance officer training; EPA approved PPE; consulting services by experienced showrunners to create customized budgets; and nurses who can also be trained as compliance officers.
“Many producers are facing significant hurdles in light of all the complications and challenges posed by COVID-19. Production companies need to get back to work but must do so in a way that prioritizes health and safety for all personnel,” Porporino said.
He started to explore the idea after hearing colleagues complain about expensive consultancies and inexperienced compliance people that were ripping productions off and possibly putting them in danger.
The COVID Film Certification program features training modules that include online exams covering industry specific COVID-19 protocols and best practices for all pre-production and post-production personnel. They get a certificate valid for a year if they pass, although Porporino said the company is not aligned with any official organization.
“I am hearing production companies are getting price gouged. People are selling them [costly] PPE and consulting fees. Or one colleague said they sent her a compliance officer who was her former PA. I heard from multiple people in the business that they are getting … people who are going on set playing with their phones,” said Porporino.
He worked closely on the concept with a friend Lori Rothschild Ansaldi, producer and CEO of Big City TV, who is on his advisory board.
“Big City TV, along with my partners at the Content Group, were not satisfied with simply ‘meeting protocols’ for our shows,” Ansaldi said. “Our goal is to always go above and beyond for our clients and talent to ensure that we create and maintain safe and healthy work environments.” She’ll be using the tests for crew and talent across Big City’s portfolio of projects.
Each exam costs $99. Porporino said he’s currently contracted with three productions that he can’t name because they haven’t been announced yet.
The program has partnered with a VIPrivate Care, a healthcare company based in New York, to provide medical personnel and testing and with another company for PPE.
The advisory board also includes Ra Kumar of United Talent Agency, Lucilla D’Agostino of Big Fish Entertainment, Hans Schiff, formerly a partner at Creative Arts Agency, Darin Frank, a partner in the entertainment law firm of Sloane, Offer, Weber and Dern, and NYU Professor Peter Rajsingh.
Porporino it so happens also owns Fresco Da Franco, an Italian restaurant in Montclair, New Jersey, which was a whole other headache with COVID. Trying to reopen there gave him some ideas.
COVID Film Certification is 72.5% funded by Porporino and 27.5% by two advisory board members.
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