What Will It Take to Get TV and Film Production Up and Running Again?

Industry decision makers are plotting how to safely resume filming TV shows and movies—but it’s complicated

As entertainment industry leaders begin to discuss how to get movies and TV shows back into production, all agree that, until a coronavirus vaccine becomes available, the Hollywood workplace will hardly resemble pre-pandemic days.

Talks between studios including Disney and Warner Bros., unions like IATSE and the Directors Guild of America, associations such as the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, and other entertainment entities suggest changes to everything from the way love scenes are shot, to the handling of props and wardrobe, down to the food on set, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“What we’re hearing is that when production begins to reopen, it’ll be done in phases,” FilmL.A. president Paul Audley tells THR. “And the first phase most likely will include a numbers restriction and social distancing measures, so that would mean that any film permits will only be issued for very small productions.” And while some studio sources are optimistic that larger productions can come back in July or August, they say that fall may be more realistic.

While basic safety measures like mandating masks for crew members and installing plenty of hand-washing stations on sets are obvious, other ideas to prevent contamination are more extreme. For instance, actors actually getting intimate on camera may temporarily be a thing of the past. Instead, there’s talk of actors performing their scenes separately and then splicing the shots together in post-production.

“We’ve done split screens before, but for the next 18 months we need to figure out how to allow actors to get up close and personal,” Neishaw Ali, president of SpinVFX in Toronto, tells THR.

An even more drastic precaution being considered is to take the temperatures of anyone allowed on set or even administering rapid antigen tests.

Other safety protocols may include a ban on workers sharing tools, frequently sanitizing sets, props and costumes, and replacing traditional Craft service buffets with individually wrapped airline-style meals.

The government is also helping to plan Hollywood’s comeback.

“We are having daily conversations about the protocols,” California Film Commissioner Colleen Bell tells Variety. “We know that people are going to want to get back to work so we’re planning the re-entry period. We are handling a massive amount of inquiries. This is going to be complicated.”

Paul Audley puts a brighter spin on the situation. As Deadline reports, he recently told participants on an Entertainment Partners web seminar, “I have a sense, although nothing official, that we’ll see a return to work sort of in reverse of how it closed down […] But no matter how it happens, the industry is ready to start on day one.”

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