Hollywood Is Going Back To Work — Here's What That Will Mean For Viewers


Over the weekend, it was announced that beginning June 12th, Hollywood can resume film and TV production. Hollywood’s labor unions and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers — two groups that are often at odds with one another over contracts and working conditions — joined forces to release the recommendations for how to safely resume film and TV production, and it’s clear that viewers will be thrilled about at least one of the new rules. Many of the new filming protocols meant to reduce the risk of transmission could last long after the pandemic recedes, creating a new normal for moviemaking worldwide. Here are the new “rules.”

FEWER SEX AND FIGHT SCENES
Certain activities, such as fight scenes or intimate scenes, increase the risk of transmission. When maintaining physical distancing is not possible, contact will be kept to the shortest amount of time possible. Scenes viewers objected to and often fast-forwarded through will no longer be an issue.

THE END OF THE LIVE STUDIO AUDIENCE
Use of live studio audiences during filming is “discouraged,” but not outright banned. Some may be allowed on a case-by-case basis with social distancing, mandatory mask use, symptom screening, and physical barriers between the audience and the cast and crew. Given those precautions, sitcoms that used to film in front of a live studio audience will likely use a laugh track instead.

NO MORE PAPER SCRIPTS
Hollywood is going paperless, sort of. Whenever possible, alternatives like electronic scripts will be used. If paper scripts are completely unavoidable, paper scripts will be be assigned to specific individuals, clearly labeled, and not shared between others.

SHORTER WORK DAYS
To reduce the risk of transmission and keep cast and crew safe, there will be fewer consecutive work days and the duration will be limited. As a result of shorter work days, film and TV shoots could be forced to run over a longer period of time. A two-week shoot could stretch into a month. That means television series will see longer stretches between seasons.

DIY COSTUMES AND MAKE-UP
New safety guidelines on film sets will likely hardest hit the craftspeople whose jobs require they work closely with actors — costume designers, makeup artists, and hairstylists. Some of their work simply may not be possible while maintaining physical distancing from others. Productions will have to focus on costumes actors can put on themselves. Complicated period costumes — like a corset, for example — may have to be altered so that performers can wear them without anyone’s assistance. There will be visible physical indicators marking a distance of six feet in areas where cast and crew congregate, especially in places like make-up and costume trailers, which are typically cramped.

COVID-19 COMPLIANCE OFFICERS ON EVERY SET
Every set will soon have its own designated Covid-19 compliance officer, who will work across all departments to ensure guidelines are being followed.

PLAN TO PAY A LOT MORE AT THE MOVIES
That’s because all the new protocols will cost studios money. The additional equipment new personnel, higher insurance premiums, and increased reliance of visual effects and other technologies as substitutes for in-person filming will add to the cost of a shoot, and that will naturally be passed on to moviegoers.