What's Hollywood Going to Look Like When This is Over?

Hollywood Sign
This will all end, but what will Hollywood look like when we get there? 

If you're a responsible human being, you've spent the majority of the last 50-ish days indoors, during the COVID-19 crisis, only venturing out for essential reasons. But the day is coming where you won't have to stay indoors. 

Hollywood is going to open. You'll be able to get into the theater, shoot projects, and attend festivals. 

But what will all that look like? 

Recently, The Los Angeles Times interviewed a bunch of A-list people on what they think can happen next. Let's take a look at some of the quotes I pulled and see how things will change in the future. 

What's Hollywood Going to Look Like When This is Over? 

The Los Angeles Times gathered some of the best and brightest filmmakers to discuss the current times. Their first question was straightforward. They wanted to know when film production would begin again. 

Kay Cannon, the director of Blockers, theorized, "At first, I briefly thought the hiatus would only be for a few weeks. Then I thought a few months. Now the timetable is less clear because it depends on when measures can be put in place to ensure the safety of the cast and crew. Comprehensive testing and tracing is the first step in that process. I’ve come to accept that no one knows anything and that patience is our best friend."

Producer Jason Blum came in with a more independent outlook. "I do think smaller productions will start sooner, but I don’t think we’re going to see Marvel movies shooting, or big expensive movies, until 2021. The real answer to your question is that it’s all about when testing will be in this country as good it is in other places, which it isn’t yet."

But so much of safety is how you feel personally, as well, and what steps need to be taken to make sure people can return to film sets and offices.

Director and writer Sophia Takal thinks we need to tackle thing on a micro level, "I came up making micro-budget movies with very small crews and limited cast/locations, so I’d feel safe returning to a film set with a skeleton crew where everyone had been quarantined for the two weeks prior to production even now. I’d feel safe on a larger set if everyone could get rapid tested every day and wore masks and there was hand sanitizer everywhere and nobody ever sneezed, coughed or breathed very heavily in public, which is obviously not realistic."

Still, while we have no exact day when things can begin again, some are able to use technology to soldier forward. 

A more efficient future is possible. 

Listen to producer Will Packer talk about how his job has changed. "I’m sure I’m like a lot of executives who have been extremely busy during this time. Communication has not only continued but increased. As someone who routinely flies back and forth across the country, it’s been a real eye-opener to see the level of productivity that can be sustained when leaning on the technology available. I expect that to continue and be refined as we move forward."

While some of us are trying to move on, others are still trying to survive. 

This situation has hit the poorest and most underprivileged among us the hardest. 

As costume designer Arianne Phillips says, "Below-the-line crews, all workers, businesses that support the film industry, craftspeople from tailors to shoemakers, dry cleaners, restaurants, camera houses, prop houses, florists, etc."

Cinematographer Jody Lee Lipes is worried. "The uninsured, people who get paid the least, people who have the smallest amount of savings, people who don’t have access to good medical care, and people who have or care for people with pre-existing conditions. I think the same group of people who are hardest hit outside of the film community."

And what about diversity and inclusion? 

How will that be affected by the situation? 

Sophia Takal was wondering the same thing. "One of the first things I wondered was whether or not this would erase the progress Hollywood has made in inclusivity. With everyone looking for a job at the same time, will the “powers that be” go back to hiring mainly cis white men? I have no idea; I really hope it’s not true. That things will slide backwards is a fear of mine — one that precedes the pandemic." 

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood took a more blunt analysis. "I won’t blame the pandemic on the lack of inclusion and diversity. But Hollywood will find a way to."

Clapping slate on set
Credit: photo by Avel Chuklanov

As the interview ended, there was another question people discussed. The Times asked what looming problem everyone should be thinking about. 

Actor Simu Liu was frank. "While the world fights the COVID-19 virus, the Asian population is also experiencing an unprecedented level of xenophobia and prejudice in America and all over the world. The website Stop AAPI Hate, which was created last month by the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council to track anti-Asian hate crimes around the country, reported over 1,100 racially-motivated attacks [in America] in the last two weeks of March alone. ... It’s lazy and dangerous to point a finger at a group of people you know nothing about and reduce them to harmful stereotypes. I would encourage everyone reading not to give in to hate and to instead focus their thoughts around empathy and support." 

This is something we all can tackle in our communities every day. And something we need to hold the people in power accountable for addressing. 

The last thing that was covered was what people really missed about life before the pandemic. 

Jason Blum put it nicely, "The lack of the theatrical experience. I have never been alive at a time when I didn’t look at the grosses of the movies that were coming out over the weekend 15 times — not for who made what money, but for what that represented. In other words, what kind of movies the audience was really responding to, why they were responding to one over another, the endless surprise that happened every weekend as a result of that. No one ever really knew until the movies came out. Sometimes I was happy, sometimes I was sad, sometimes I was disappointed, sometimes I was elated — but I loved the thrill of that! And it’s just gone. That’s probably what I miss most." 

We all know this will end, but not knowing when is a killer. 

Still, Hollywood is far from over. Things will need to change and these voices, plus the voices reading this website, will be the ones to make the changes. 

What are some things you think can make this place better for the future? 

Suggestions on how Hollywood can be safer and change for the better? 

Let us know in the comments.      

Your Comment

1 Comment

Good article, Jason. It left me a little queasy, and I wasn't sure why at first. I think I've figured it out. It's the unintended politicization of this pandemic. That is, we all see it through our own lens: through what's most important to us. That's human. It'd be like talking to a bar owner who isn't sure their bar will open and be profitable ever again. They'll first see the pandemic through the lens of their own experience. So I guess if one is all about changing Hollywood to be more inclusive, that would be one of the first things you'd worry about. I read the article title as being what Hollywood is going to look like, meaning how the fuck will we do production- not just the big guys who can isolate cast and crew for two weeks and have the financial resources to do testing, etc.- but also for us tiny indies who frankly can't afford that. And that, sir, is me looking at life (and your article headline) through my own lens. So, bravo! The meat of your article was a leetle beet unexpected (if a bit on-the-nose, title-wise).

I feel like Hollywood is one of the least inclusive places on Earth and always has been. I don't mean it just towards people who don't look a certain way. I mean it for everyone, even those pale male ones who like women. But I've seen friends get into studio diversity programs and not get a job. I've seen friends who are incredibly talented and just happen to be African-American or 1st generation Chinese-American who can't get staffed on shows. I've been here off and on for a while, and I've watched many dozens of people who have real talent and drive and an incredible work ethic who have not gotten "in". Hollywood is fucking hard for everyone, unless you happen to be related to it.

I'm not sure that there's a real fix for that. Outside of finding a way to create and to live that isn't reliant upon this (outside of the studios) amorphous idea of "Hollywood". And I know we can't all do an indie feature or web series that gets so much love that "they" can't ignore you anymore. But I absolutely admire the people I meet- of all shapes, sizes, and shades of skin- who approach this journey less about getting a job or doing the "right" thing to curry praise or favor from the anointed ones and more about building a career and a life. Because this life is the only one we get.

So basically, Jason, you wrote an article that wasn't what I'd expected to read. And that got me thinking about totally different shit than I thought I'd be thinking about. Thank you.

May 3, 2020 at 9:15AM

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Patrick Ortman
I tell stories. Sometimes for money. Sometimes, not.