Hollywood Charges Forward With Production Plans Despite Virus Surge


Studios keep plotting returns to filming in states including California, New York, Georgia and Illinois as they hash out details of on-set COVID-19 protocols with the guilds.

The rising COVID-19 case count in the U.S. may have prompted the rolling back of business reopenings in select states, but it’s yet to significantly impact film and TV production plans.

Sources on the ground in states including California, Georgia and New York tell The Hollywood Reporter that film and TV series that’d been gearing up for production are still very much doing so, though principal photography on most domestic projects isn’t expected to begin for another couple months. Up until this point, the bulk of filming has been done in international territories as novel coronavirus numbers keep escalating in the U.S.

Naturally, though, California Governor Gavin Newsom’s sweeping statewide closures of various indoor businesses on July 13 raised questions about another potential production halt. Multiple sources, however, say the Governor’s guidance for the entertainment industry has not changed and there’s no indication that it will — at least not yet. According to an official state document, individuals “supporting the entertainment industries, studios, and other related establishments, provided they follow COVID-19 public health guidance around physical distancing” are considered “essential workers.”

Insiders say the strict protocols in some ways offer a more controlled environment than, say, restaurants or other indoor businesses that were ordered to shut down again, as testing is required for the former and not the later. Also key in keeping the industry in the clear is the fact that not many productions are up and running yet, and most of the ones that are have been rather small in size. Just a few weeks ago, FilmLA, which tracks permits, said it’d been receiving around 60 film applications a week. A spokesman for the nonprofit says that they haven’t seen more than a minor increase in new applicants since then and that most incoming applications are continuing to come from the advertising and commercial sector.

Over in Georgia, insiders say studios that are ramping up their production plans have yet to be deterred by the state’s record-high COVID-19 numbers and the heated political battle over government guidelines. (After Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms ordered the city to roll back to Phase One and mandated face masks in public, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp sued her over the directives, calling them “void and unenforceable orders which only serve to confuse the public.”)

Georgia’s film office, which has stayed clear of the scuffle, maintains that the state has not been impacted by any rollbacks. “We are very grateful for the commitment recently made by industry leaders to get back to producing more films in Georgia, and it’s gratifying to see our productions begin to get safely off the ground,” said film office director Lee…

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