Hollywood Wants To Get Back On Set, But Can Studios Afford It?

Hollywood Wants To Get Back On Set, But Can Studios Afford It?
"At this point, any movie or show or anything that's going to get made is a gamble."

As many states are reopening with restrictions, the entertainment industry is making moves to do the same with film and TV productions. 

James Moran: "I do feel safe going back. I will take my precautions for my own personal safety, but also want to ensure that everybody else that comes back feels comfortable and is as safe as they can be, too."

Earlier this month, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers published guidelines for on-set COVID-19 safety. They include recommendations to hire a designated COVID-19 compliance officer, create handwashing facilities, and supply cast and crew with personal protective equipment.

Moran: "Safety goggles, No. 1. A lovely bag of masks right there. They gave us a 10-pack of masks."

The guide also takes into account "production-specific concerns" for hairstylists, makeup artists and actors, as well as extra sanitation guidelines for equipment. BorrowLenses, a company that rents out camera and audio gear to entertainment workers, is consulting clients with these guidelines in mind. 

Drew Appolonia: "Crews are going to be really, really limited. … Some of the things that we're thinking about are just rethinking the ways you approach basics like audio. If you're doing interviews in person, somebody's not going to want you to clip a lav mic directly on them."

These considerations show that Hollywood is working to limit the health risk of COVID-19, but the bigger determiner for going back on set is whether studios and production companies are willing to take the financial risk.

Universal is notably spending around $5 million on safety protocols to restart production on “Jurassic World: Dominion.” The major studio project is set to be the first to start filming again, but other studios are still hesitant to get back on set. 

Moran: "At this point, any movie or show or anything that's going to get made is a gamble. It's a total risk that, unfortunately, if those fronting the money aren't ready to take, then it's not going to happen."

The gamble doesn't just involve the cost of adding safety precautions — it's also the cost of insurance.

Moran: "That's when I think somebody realized 'Oh, wow, OK. This is a bigger risk than we thought. It's a bigger gamble than we thought.' And so I think that's what ultimately put the brakes on the project we were thinking about." 

Appolonia: "It's little things like that. And until we actually get back out there, get back on set, and these gigs start happening again, we're going to be learning on the fly."