Adam B. Vary writing for Variety:
The shutdown had just started to soften this month, as a handful of U.S. productions — ABC’s “The Bachelorette,” CBS’s “The Bold and the Beautiful”— began slowly getting back to work, with others quietly preparing to start up again in the coming months. Those plans were predicated, however, on the assumption that COVID-19 cases were either leveling off or dropping nationwide, providing a safer environment for productions to move forward.
Instead, cases have exploded. On Monday and Tuesday, California hit record numbers of daily confirmed cases, led by Los Angeles county, which has hit over 103,000 total cases of the over 230,000 total cases statewide. Cases are similarly skyrocketing in Florida, Texas, and Arizona, while the popular production hubs of Louisiana, Georgia and New Mexico are seeing a precipitous rise as well.
The facts on the ground are swiftly placing the industry into an excruciating double-bind between literal and figurative life and death.
Film production in the United States is currently at a crawl. There is some work to be had (I’ll be sharing my few COVID work experiences soon), but it’s nowhere close to pre-pandemic levels. Most of our peers in the major production cities or working on big shows are sitting at home waiting for things to settle – except the opposite is happening.
With dwindling options in the U.S., some productions are beginning to entertain moving to Europe, where COVID-19 spread is far more under control.
It’s shameful that an uncoordinated, inconsistent, and scattershot approach to COVID-19 from the leadership of the United States has resulted in our industry and below-the-line crew (among many others) losing out on valuable work. It’s maddening that the simplest, most affordable, and most effective weapon we have against coronavirus – mask wearing – has been politicized into another line in the sand in which sides are taken. It’s frustrating that we endured lockdowns, unemployment, and numerous stressors only to end up backtracking.
Until productions can be done safely, which is perilous in areas of abundant community spread, a lot of crew will be left out of work as unions, above-the-liners, studios, and crew themselves prefer to mitigate their risk of COVID-19 infection.
So: please, wear the mask!