When California Governor Gavin Newsom revealed on Wednesday that the state would provide guidance that would allow many countries to resume filming as early as next week, the reaction in Hollywood was silenced.
After nearly two months of being shut down due to a coronavirus outbreak, many of the hundreds of thousands of cast and crew around the country were eager to get back to work. But there are also concerns that remain that the industry is not ready.
“I am grateful that the governor acknowledged the importance of the film industry,” he said Nickolaus Brown, President, IATSE Motion Picture Costumers Local 705. However, he added, “it is misleading to suggest the film industry will open on Monday. There are mixed reactions from members, some are happy and some are scared out of their minds.”
Disclosure by Newsom that filming will resume so quickly caught many people off guard in Hollywood. Newsom made a statement at a session with entertainment industry executives, including Netflix Content Head Ted Sarandos and Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay as part of the so-called “Listening Tour of Economic Recovery & Reinvention.”
Newsom said the state on Monday would release requirements that had to be met by 58 states of California to start shooting, and that some regions could resume production next week. Los Angeles, however, will be several weeks behind the move because of ongoing deaths, he said.
The governor has been under increasing pressure to reopen the country to business despite the ongoing death rate caused by COVID-19. This disease has a devastating economic impact on the film industry, where crew and actors interact at close range.
Part of the challenge is a patchwork approach with some regions competing to start before others. In San Francisco, the city’s film office said it plans to issue permits to crews of less than 10 people, provided they meet certain guidelines.
But SAG-AFTRA, Hollywood’s largest union, has already told 160,000 members not back to work without his consent. Like other unions, SAG-AFTRA has employ epidemiologists to help them formulate the reopening procedure.
The union said in a statement that it had not signed “any specific set of procedures for reopening” and that it was reviewing “efforts across industries to create procedures for safer returns to work.”
No, the industry will not open on Monday
Steve Dayan, local Teamster secretary-treasurer 399
Steve Dayan, secretary-treasurer of Teamster Local 399, representing the location manager, driver and casting director, said flatly, “No, the industry will not open on Monday.” While Dayan praised the governor’s handling of the pandemic, he said it was too early to talk about resuming filmmaking while industrial unions were still in talks with the studio about the new safety protocol.
“I know people are nervous but people need to be patient,” Dayan said. “We work all the time to solve this. We need to protect our crew but also have an obligation to protect the community. The most difficult thing for me is to hear one of my members die because I did not do my due diligence.”
Crew members remain anxious about returning to the set.
“I’m happy to go back to work, but I’m a little scared,” said Robyn Buchanan, a 31-year-old second camera assistant based in LA who was working on a network series when production closed in March because of a pandemic. “If production can return to work, then why aren’t restaurants and shops open?”
The Governor’s Office did not respond to requests for comment.
“We appreciate the efforts by so many leaders in the production industry to develop in-depth back-to-work guidelines, and we hope that the basic guidelines from the Governor, in coordination with public health officials, will contribute to the collaborative process,” said the Executive Director of the Film Commission California, Colleen Bell.
On a call with Newsom, Danny Stephens, main handle and member of IATSE Local 80, raised concerns about the cost of the protocol required.
The studio, for example, has discussed hiring “COVID coordinators” with their own staff and the crew might stagger, which can slow down production.
“Someone has to pay for all this,” Stephens said. While there is a need to develop stringent protocols to keep people safe, the industry needs to keep it “financially viable for production to buy it,” he said. “The last thing we want to do is put our self-esteem out of business.”
FilmL.A., A non-profit group that handles film permits for cities and counties, said it would not begin issuing permits until at least June 15. “And that will be until the Department of Public Health issues guidelines and gives advance approval,” FilmL.A. President Paul Audley said in a statement.
To be sure, many people in this industry have been hit hard by the closure and want to go back to work. Mark Butts, a production and lighting designer and lighting director, based in L.A., owner of Preset Productions, said the governor’s move was “big news.”
“One of the things we’ve all been waiting for is that we all want to go back to work as long as we can do it safely,” Butts said. “It is very encouraging that they understand that this business is a sizable part of this economy and is receiving attention.”
to request modification Contact us at Here or [email protected]