One of the things you learn real quick in Hollywood is that the zipcodes here extend way past Glendale and Studio City. Hollywood's work goes all over the world. It's easy to think of cinema as just an American thing, but that's lazy thinking. Productions happen on every continent of the world.
And right now, we are dealing with a global pandemic. Everyone has been touched by the awfulness. We've lost jobs, we've seen productions die, and we just want to get back to work (safely!) because there are stories to tell. So how are producers all over the globe getting back to business?
Let's take a look.
How are global producers returning to work?
We talked about James Cameron beginning to shoot back in New Zealand, and that Netflix has begun shooting all over Europe. But what is actually going on day to day? Business is returning slowly, but in territories where COVID-19 infection rates have dropped, is production able to come back. That comeback means thousands of jobs, so it's important we do it correctly.
The actual details on how things can return with smaller productions is a little harder to detail. Especially with smaller productions unable to afford long delays or catastrophic work stoppage of someone gets sick. The Hollywood Reporter spoke with producers all over the world to see what they have to say. Unsurprisingly, many have not viewed these last six months as time off.
“We have put the time that we couldn't shoot into development,” says Martin Moskowicz, executive chairman at German mini-major Constantin Film. “So we have several projects, big and small, German and international, ready to go.”
Martin Moskowicz goes on to say, “It's a fucking mess right now with the insurance companies and the bond companies. They are reeling from how much liability they're going to have,” says a lawyer who works in the film financing space. “For indies, a bank's not going to loan you money if there's a COVID exception, especially if you know there's going to be a second wave of this. We're all going to go back to normal, and in September, it's going to be, ‘Oh shit, now it's back again.’”
There's a lot of instability. And fear. Some productions spend $350k a day, there's a lot on the line.
“The small-to-medium budget independent film projects have the toughest uphill hike, and can succeed only if they have independent financiers willing to assume the additional budget and risks associated with the current Covid landscape,” said Marc H. Simon, chair of the entertainment and sports law at Fox Rothschild.
Mikey Schwartz-Wright, an agent with UTA Independent Film Group, thinks that new money has a place in the market now, so that might lead to a healthy market with excellent films to distribute. “Because there is rightful uncertainty around production, with insurance, restrictions, etc. driving up costs, there are new challenges with traditional financing,” he says. “The bolder financiers will win the best product.”
So write some great things and this could be your chance to get your voice heard.
Paul Bronfman, chairman of Pinewood Toronto Studios, sees the Canadian production as well-placed to survive and thrive in a post-pandemic entertainment, mostly because of the tax incentives offered in the country. "There's a feeling that when the recovery happens, our production community is in the best position of anybody in the world to handle television and film. They're (studios and streamers) not running off to Europe, they not running off to Australia. They don't have to anymore," Bronfman says.
So what is your country doing to lure Hollywood?
We are certainly in an age of uncertainty. Truly, the best thing that could happen globally is a vaccine. But will we ever return to normal? I think drastic changes need to be made in the way we relate to each other. More gloves, less communal tables, and I think sanitation needs to stay.
I have been on several sets where we lost multiple people to the flu and lost many weeks of shooting. They all lived, but in this situation, they may not. The onus is on producers to take the time and budget the money to keep people safe. Don't cut from that part of the budget, or you might not live to regret it.
What are your opinions on global production? We have readers on every continent and want to hear your voices. Let us know in the comments.