The coronavirus has caused havoc across many industries, including Hollywood. Placed on lockdown since mid-March, Tinseltown is currently facing an uphill battle, as film and television shoots are particularly exposed to the pandemic because of the large casts and crews required.
The future of filmmaking in Hollywood
“It’s impossible to make a Star Wars or a Marvel movie tomorrow morning,” said Nicolas Chartier, Oscar-winning producer of The Hurt Locker. Fellow producer Stephen Nemeth echoed Chartier’s stance, “I can’t see another epic film like Mad Max – these films are 250 crew members and 250 extras. We just can’t control it.”
Although California has been praised for its pandemic response, the movie industry heartland has still recorded over 50,000 cases, disproportionately centered around Los Angeles. Hence, insurance companies are refusing to cover future production halts caused by on-set coronavirus outbreaks – delays that could cost millions on blockbuster projects.
In a bid to continue production, on-set social distancing is being trialed in Sweden and Denmark. In these countries, work has resumed on sterilized soundstages, and studios are discouraged from hiring employees with health conditions. Steven Soderbergh, director of the 2011 pandemic thriller Contagion, is leading a taskforce to explore similar options in Hollywood.
However, these restrictions are far from practical on packed film sets. “The crew that are most vulnerable is the ‘below-the-line crew’ – the gaffers, the grips, the electric, the camera,” said producer Jean de Meuron. “You can’t put six-feet distance… the focus puller is right next to the camera operator, they’re within a couple of inches from one another,” added the Hollywood producer.
Alternatives to blockbuster Hollywood movies
Filmmakers are now forced to experiment with new locations, techniques and potentially, even genres which represent the new normal in a lockdown environment. Nemeth is planning to shoot a movie at his home in the Hollywood Hills, where he can house a skeleton cast and crew throughout a brief shoot.
Meanwhile, Chartier intends to make a film shot via Zoom or Skype in which four couples discuss a murder. “The actors will film themselves at home, with their own clothes and no makeup,” he explained. “Either it will be a good script and the story will be good and it will be interesting, or we will get bored after 15 minutes and… too bad,” he added.
Source: AFP Relaxnews