Steven Soderbergh Will Head the Safety Committee to Reopen Hollywood Productions

There are going to be a lot of questions when it comes to reopening Hollywood and Steven Soderbergh is going to find the answers. 

It only seems fitting that the director of Contagion would be the one to help Hollywood back from the COVID-19 pandemic. There are so many questions circling around town right now. We are not sure when production can start again and how it can occur safely.

As the country works to produce faster testing and the world hopes for a vaccine, Hollywood wants to find a way to get back to work. 

But things are not that simple. 

So the DGA has formed a committee, led by Steven Soderbergh, to try to put the industry back together. 

In a statement from DGA president Thomas Schlamme and national executive director Russell Hollander, they voiced their faith that this would pass, and when we came back, crews would be safer.  

“While we don’t have an answer as to when production will resume, we are taking steps to address how we can be safe when it does happen. A national board committee, spearheaded by Steven Soderbergh, and with members from all categories, has been appointed to do a thorough examination of the issues at hand, and to make recommendations to the Board. The committee is consulting with top epidemiologists in the field, and we will collaborate with our sister guilds and unions and the employers as we put together a comprehensive guide to help us all return safely to work.”

So what are some ideas for making sets safer? 

On Twitter, filmmakers chimed in with worries and hurdles about returning to create after this is all over. 

Video is no longer available:

There are massive worries out there, but what are the solutions? 

People have tossed around ideas, like temperature checks on set 3 times a day, the use of masks by all crew members, skeleton crews in general, and quarantining entire productions in one hotel to ensure safety. 

But secondary to all of this is the economic and familial hurdles that might happen if people get quarantined to work together. What if people are so poor they take medicine to keep their fevers down so they can work to feed their loved ones? 

You can't fault them for those worries.  

So, we also need a system of paid leave from productions to protect the crew and incentivize people to be honest. 

What are some strategies you think Soderbergh will employ? What are the ideas you have for us moving forward? 

Let us know in the comments.      

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Your Comment


Yes . Film with masks on (except actors). Start tomorrow.

April 17, 2020 at 9:56PM

cee dee

Masks wont do anything for film production until there is widespread testing capacity. This is out of the hands of the film industry right now. Even with unlimited N95 masks we could not resume production tomorrow.

April 18, 2020 at 3:38AM

Dan F

I feel like we should always stick to Science and what the Scientists recommend. I think Antibody tests should be a key factor in re-opening the business. These tests will determine if you've had Covid and developed the antibodies from having the Virus. We should have lots of PPE available on set, crew members should wear masks until the curve is very low. I think the studios should consider having an on set physician as well as the medic. I think changes need to happen to both craft service and catering protocals. I think crews should not be downsizing because then we'll have overworked staff and dangerous sets. I also personally feel the numbers will dramatically go down (lets hope) in the summer months because I read the virus dies much quicker in heat. Just my random thoughts. I'm no Doctor but respect the hell out of the medical community!! :) #goscience

April 18, 2020 at 2:49AM

Sarah C
Animal Trainer

For doc shoots and news (just wrapped one for BBC following medics picking up COVID-19 patients), we're using N95 masks, gloves, and social distancing (good to have a nice zoom lens!). Though, all my bigger shoots have been put on hold indefinitely that requires crew flying in from the U.K. or U.S. Some commercial clients have gotten creative with requests shooting in your home.

But as of right now it looks like the only way a production would be safe to do is if everyone involved tested for the antibodies to COVID-19, then no one would be at risk of infection or being a vector. Masks and distancing for big productions just doesn't seem like it would work at the moment.

April 18, 2020 at 7:56AM, Edited April 18, 7:56AM

Michael Downey
DP, Producer, Video Journalist

Have a few security precautions... within reason. I agree with the idea of temperature checks.
Strange yet ironic that the man Hollywood shunned might be the industry's only hope left.
But I hope the DGA knows what they're doing.

April 18, 2020 at 1:15PM

Jesse J. Tripp

I honestly think the long term ramifications of this will be smaller crews. The viewer has become so accustomed to the image produced by a smaller crew in documentary, YouTube content and smaller dramas that I think this will spread across the industry. I think it was inevitable.

With the current crew sizes mimicked off of the tradition crews going back to the 70s the technology changes of today should allow for a smaller crew. Cameras have a higher sensitivity to light, and now bigger sensors allow shooting in smaller spaces without the neccesity of an ultra wide lens. Lighting fixtures are smaller and even a large production lot with LED can run off house power, ad to this the RGB and dimmable nature and you don’t need to be climbing up to change a gel or add a net etc reducing the needed size of the lighting crew. With this you can also do a lot of pre lighting to reduce the numbers on set during production.

There’s obviously still some big big stuff, gripping, stunts and what not but surely for drama and comedy production things will start to shrink as budgets and the Covid require it too...

Is this a good thing? I don’t know, will it further seperate the 300 million dollar tentpole movie from the 5 million dollar drama and reduce cinema viewers from the latter further? Will cinema survive at a mass scale? Or is the quality of a marvel television series enough of a level and the demand for tentpole cinema releases will all but dry up.... or the social distancing numbers in cinemas make big box office opening weekends practically impossible?

So many questions but to have a guy like Soderbergh who wears a lot of hats on set taking the reigns, my guess is a consolidation of crew roles and heavy limits on numbers.

Also a role of a kind of sanitisation person who is there to wipe handles and surfaces and monitor handwashing and social interaction, stars will be socially isolated in their trailers which will have door handles disinfected before they enter.

Antibodies test will also be necessary - but imagine a kissing scene, how could you do it? How could an insurance company cover the production if one or both of the actors fall ill because of the scene?

April 18, 2020 at 8:10PM

Isaac Elliott
Director - Producer

You can't fault them for those worries.

April 18, 2020 at 9:48PM, Edited April 18, 9:48PM

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