It's been almost 10 months since the original shutdown, and Los Angeles was trying to get back to normal. Last month, Governor Gavin Newsom wrote that crew members and filmmakers were part of a list of exempted people who were allowed to go back to work. But amidst an intense surge in COVID-19 cases sweeping Los Angeles County, all the major studios and steamers have agreed to pause local production for a week (or more) to try and mitigate the stress on area hospitals.
All this while Los Angeles passes 800,000 cases of COVID-19... that number was a little over 400,000 once before.
These kinds of shutdowns are really expensive. Producers have been reviewing the logistics, including talent availability and whether cast and crew would be paid for the additional idle days. Budgets are getting thinner, even as they already had to take on the COVID protocols, officers, and testing.
Shutting down really has no precedent except the ones set earlier this year. People are wondering how to pay crew, or if they even have to. Meanwhile, people who thought they were going to start work this week are suddenly left without a job, and often, without a paycheck.
Who's shooting right now?
Unscripted and scripted shows and movies were trying to come back. Ava DuVernay had a project about to begin, and the Russo brothers were set to shoot their huge Netflix movie The Gray Man in the next week. Both these projects have been pushed to late January, for now.
Studios did not make their shutdown decision lightly. They were asked by SAG to halt and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health pleaded with them.
“Southern California hospitals are facing a crisis the likes of which we have never seen before,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris in a statement. “Patients are dying in ambulances waiting for treatment because hospital emergency rooms are overwhelmed. This is not a safe environment for in-person production right now.”
Los Angeles is the epicenter of one of the worst outbreaks in North America. 21% of people tested are coming back positive. Our ICU capacity is at 0% and the stay-at-home order lasts through Jan. 16.
Production has come and gone through the epidemic. Until we have the majority of people vaccinated, I expect shooting to occur off and on, as needed for hospitals.
Let us know if you have been affected in the comments.