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Hollywood Gets Green Light to Resume Production

Film and Television Studios Allowed to Reopen

Hollywood film and television studios were shuttered for three months due to the pandemic, but last Friday the state of California gave them the green light to resume production. Though some directors, actors, and camera crews will be returning to sets this week, the industry will be dealing with pandemic-related hurdles for some time.

Writers have already begun reworking their scripts to avoid filming scenes that could put actors at risk of contracting COVID-19. Shoots in exotic locations, intimate scenes between actors, and large crowds on set will be limited, or even non-existent for some time.

New Industry Guidelines for Sets

Some of the new industry guidelines include “regular, periodic testing of the cast and crew,” and making sure a “COVID-19 Compliance Officer” is present on every set.

Each studio will find slightly different ways to keep everyone safe. Directors and crew members may be asked to wear masks and social distance, while actors may be sequestered in special holding areas between scenes to minimize unnecessary interactions with others.

As studios put together new safety guidelines, they are also creating new insurance policies that include clauses about coronavirus. This is difficult because insurance companies are hesitant to change policies without adding increased premiums and exceptions to the coverage. The production shutdown resulted in a major increase in claims, and insurance companies have been declining coverage to studios for disruptions caused by the virus.

Making Movies Might Become More Expensive

Industry analysts believe most filming will not resume until late July at the earliest, as many production companies are still working to make their sets comply with new regulations.

Large-budget films with hundreds of crew members at remote locations may not resume until August unless these shoots are happening in countries that weren’t hit as hard by the virus. For example, in New Zealand, Director James Cameron plans to resume filming the Avatar sequel in just a few days.

It’s likely production of unscripted shows like reality TV may trickle back more quickly. This is because these shows often have smaller, non-union crews and are less financially risky than their scripted counterparts.

Industry analysts are also thinking about the impact new safety protocols will have on production budgets. In order to comply with social distancing guidelines, studios will likely have longer shooting schedules which will increase costs. This could double or even triple the total cost of production. While Friday’s reopening was a small victory, Hollywood will still face pandemic-related hurdles this summer.

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