The set can be an extremely busy environment with a lot of moving parts. Production teams have deadlines to meet, talent to direct, and personnel to manage. The last thing production needs to worry about is what its security personnel are doing. The best way to ensure that security is doing its job is by hiring a competent security firm that manages its personnel so that you don’t have to.
So what is security’s job? A security officer will always be responsible for a standard set of responsibilities:
- Serving as a deterrent against the commission of wrongful acts committed against the client, its employees, guests and property
- Controlling access to the client’s property
- Observing and reporting all security and safety-related issues
- Aiding in the discovery of security violations
- Timely reporting of emergencies
- Providing directions and informational assistance to the client, it employees, visitors and guests
- Conducting roving patrols of the grounds
- Preparing written reports detailing security-related activities and incidents
In addition to these general duties, security personnel will always be responsible for site-specific duties. In regards to the production environment, one of the most important areas of focus needs to be confidentiality. Ensuring the security of information on set begins with having each individual sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). It is excellent practice to have the individual administering the NDA explain to the signer the implications of violating such an agreement. Bringing to the person’s attention the possibility of a fine in the area of seven figures will most likely make him think twice about sharing anything he observed while on set. It is also possible that some people simply do not know what an NDA is and are accustomed to signing documents without understanding their purpose. Many people today are not confidentiality-oriented and will think nothing of sharing their on-set experiences with colleagues. Having them sign an NDA and explaining the key points while doing so will make them think twice about the importance of confidentiality. Having security personnel administering the NDA is good practice for several reasons:
- It sets the tone, informing everyone on set of the high expectations and standards of behavior
- Security personnel can have the individual sign the NDA prior to entering the protected site
- Considering confidentiality is a security-related function, it should be handled by security personnel, hence allowing security to worry about security, and production to worry about production
- Some individuals may be reluctant to sign the NDA and could potentially become agitated
Threat Assessment and Management
Production of course involves talent. And with talent comes baggage, sometimes in the form of persistent fans or even stalkers. For this reason it is imperative that security teams obtain any and all information pertaining to inappropriate communications from the camps of each cast member prior to filming. Security firms need to take this information and conduct their own detailed threat assessment and prepare to manage any potential threats. During filming, a stalker of a cast member becomes a stalker of the overall production; therefore it is extremely important that the contracted security firm has a high aptitude in Threat Assessment and Management.
With the sometimes chaotic nature of the production environment, it is extremely difficult to keep track of every single person on set. Add to this the number of vendors that pass through on a daily basis and it becomes nearly impossible for production teams to be familiar with every individual on site. These factors combined with the natural curiosity brought on by the entertainment industry make a production environment an ideal place for attempted unauthorized access.
Vendor management begins with access control to the site, with security personnel ensuring each vendor is on authorized lists provided by the production team. Beyond the front gate, vendor management extends throughout the site, where access to designated areas needs to be controlled. All vendors should be required to display specific credentials—badges or color-coded wrist bands. Any vendor on site not displaying the necessary credentials should be challenged by all personnel, security and production alike.
Processes and Procedures
No matter the site, specific processes and procedures need to be developed and implemented by security management. All security personnel need to be familiar with these policies in order to know exactly what actions to take during specific situations. Some examples of scenarios faced on set are:
- Medical emergency
- Arrest of unauthorized person on site—safe custody location
- Hostile vendor termination
- Natural disaster
The production environment is a dynamic one, and requires equally dynamic security personnel. Just like the security team needs as many force multipliers as possible, the production team too needs force multipliers, and competent security personnel will be just that. Simple acts like directing guests to proper parking areas, assisting EMTs with medical situations, and ensuring drivers know the most efficient route to the nearest level-one trauma center can substantially aid in the overall production process. For production companies, the individuals managing the production will inevitably make or break the project, and the same can be said about security. Unfortunately, figuring that out in the middle of filming can have detrimental effects on production. To ensure success, choose the right security firm so that production can focus on production and production only.