Studio executives, producers, unions, government agencies and insurance specialists have begun to sit and chat about the return to film and television production.
Companies are eager to start rolling cameras once again, with the green light from public health officials in their sights. The stakes are high for the major studios, including Walt Disney and Warner Bros., which need to feed their nascent streaming platforms with more shows and films because of the lockdown.
Major film studios have had meetings with production service professionals to assess what a return to film and TV sets would look like. Shoots may return sooner in countries less hard-hit by the virus, such as Iceland, or that have less restrictive shutdowns and no post-travel quarantines such as Sweden or Denmark, where guidelines for filming have been laid out.
Films that would normally have 300 persons on set are finding ways of reducing that number to fewer than 75 by having people work in staggered groups and doing remote work. Production may resume with smaller-scale shows, such as sitcoms, that can be made with smaller crews, sets and limited travel.
Stars accustomed to in-person wardrobe departments may have to dress themselves. Makeup artists and hair dressers, who would normally touch up actors between takes, will probably have to observe shoots from Tablets/iPads.
Sanitation crews will be brought on to disinfect sets and equipment throughout the day. Companies are also considering having crews effectively quarantine on studio property or in hotels near sets during production.
Studios don’t know when public health guidelines will allow them to resume production, nor do they know what types of social distancing restrictions governments will require.
But Tom Rothman, chair of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, said he’s confident companies will be able to address health and safety concerns.
“I don’t really imagine you’re going to be doing giant scenes with thousands of extras right off the bat,” he said. “But if there’s reliable testing, and people can come to work and be given a decent amount of social distance, I believe protocols will evolve to create workplaces where crews, who are hungry to get back to work, will feel safe.”