In a stunning Buzzfeed article, assistants describe how monitoring COVID protocols have been left to them.
The life of a Hollywood assistant is a rough one. But recently, things were looking up. Pushes to get better pay, hours, and benefits made life bearable for many. Then COVID struck, and the industry was reeling. Mass layoffs caused a lot of stress, and those who kept their jobs had a new duty... COVID protocols.
As Hollywood attempts to get back to shooting film and television, there are lots of new regulations and mandates that need to be followed. In an attempt to save budget and combine forces, a lot of these have rolled onto assistants' plates.
Someone at Warner Bros. told Buzzfeed, “This pandemic is only a year old, so as we learn more, we have to change what we’re doing... The ripple effects are so chaotic, and we're the ones who take the brunt of it. The executives at Warner Bros. sit in their at-home offices and issue these mandates, but we have to deal with the crew's fears and complaints.”
This is happening particularly with assistants who are on set. Sure, people want to get back to work and to keep their jobs. But these assistants have no medical training or expertise in the field. Now they are wandering around telling crew members to distance.
Here's the most damning part of the story from Buzzfeed. "The Warner Bros. employee, who spends their days managing safety on set and their nights and weekends answering emails and phone calls from concerned crew members, said they do work with a couple of production assistants specifically dedicated to handling COVID safety, as well as a registered nurse. But despite taking several online training courses, they’re not a medical professional and feel ill-equipped to handle every possible scenario."
Assistants are already overworked and have always been chronically underpaid. Putting them in charge of managing a pandemic is cruel and completely misguided. It feels like Hollywood is just waiting for the vaccine to change things, and trying to blow past problems until then.
But with California's botched vaccine rollout, there's no telling when things can get back to normal.
While rampant testing makes it easier to track who is coming and going from each production, none of this should fall onto the plate of someone responsible for so many other things.
Let us know what you think in the comments.
In my country it's mandatory to have covid "supervisors" in shootings (ones with budgets and a lot of people though) The more there is people on set, the more "supervisors" is requested on set too. They obviously make sure the protocols are respected and have to have some medical training too, they can be doctors or nurse or medical assistant.
But it's actually the insurance companies and production companies that pushed this too. And I have to tell you, those protocols are kind of crazy and seems really hard to respect. I can't say if they really are or not.
But you tell me that the US don't anything like that? Production companies went "fuck it, the assistants can do this", and insurance companies went "alright let's roll baby!".
January 29, 2021 at 12:39PM, Edited January 29, 12:42PM
Companies didn't, this article isn't reflective of my experiences. I've been forturnate enough to work semi-regularly during 2020 and now. Almost every single set since August has had a CCO (Covid Compliance Officer), who's usually just there checking temps in the morning and chastising anyone not following protocol. On smaller crews they've been in an Office role, but it's rarely someone from a medical profession and usually either a PC or PM that shifted over or an out of work department head, but a lot of PA's are doing it because it's a cheap certification and atleast 2x the pay. I've found contrary to the article that Media Lawyers have been really crazy with restrictions. I had 2 negative tests and got pulled from set immediately due to 1 symptom being on both of them... I agree that CCO's are not prepared and don't know what they're doing, but this is all new for our generation, and unless they require medical professionals to do it it's gonna be haphazard somewhat.
January 31, 2021 at 11:04AM