California governor Gavin Newsom is preparing to release guidelines on how sectors in the state including film and TV production can emerge from the lockdown, although it is unlikely Hollywood will be among the first locales to do so.
Speaking on his virtual Economic Recovery & Reinvention Listening Tour to a roundtable of entertainment industry personnel on Wednesday (May 20), Newsom said he anticipated issuing information on Monday (May 25).
The governor told panellists including Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos that 53 out of 58 counties in California would meet his reopening criteria but not Los Angeles County, which remains the hardest-hit region in the state by the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday there were 1,324 new confirmed cases resulting in 40,857 in total, and 57 new fatalities that increased the level to 1,970.
While it remained uncertain on Wednesday whether the guidelines will issue hard-and-fast dates as to when production can resume in areas that meet criteria, industry sources in Hollywood have said privately they do not expect shooting will start up until at least July.
Newsom indicated Los Angeles County may be several weeks behind other regions in the state. Production can only resume if it meets the requirements established in Newsom’s four-phase reopening plan, which factors in health guidelines.
Sarandos noted that Netflix was currently in production “in places like” South Korea, Sweden and Iceland and protocols vary.
“The thing we’re finding out is there [is] no one-size fits all solution to production,” said Sarandos, adding that population densities and different approaches to testing dictated the approach in each country.
“So in places like in Sweden they’re not doing testing, but they are doing voluntary quarantining in the weeks leading up to and during production. In Korea anyone with a symptom is immediately tested and production is shut down until you get the results.
“But [there are] certain protocols that we hadn’t thought about before that [they’re] deploying other places,” he noted. “Like in Iceland, where they don’t do ride-sharing to the set, so people drive and are transported separately.
“But the one thing that is constant throughout the world is production environments are very controlled environments. There are security [protocols] in place to make sure people don’t come and go on a set when you don’t know who they are and where they’ve been, so in that way it’s a much more controlled environment.
“The key to this is getting to a place where we can have the safety of everyone on the cast and crew ensured and beyond that they have to feel safe to come and do the work of their lives. So to do that it’s things like fast, dependable testing at scale and our ability to be able to lead that around the world is very, very important; to know that when people come to work they come to work with confidence that the sets are clean and sterilised, that the people they’re working with are healthy, and that they are being looked after. So it’s the actual logistics of health and safety, but also the emotions of that are very, very important.”
Sarandos continued, “Our animation teams within a few days, certainly within a few weeks, had entire productions running remotely from people’s homes… We have right now about 220 productions in various state of post-production in people’s living rooms and kitchens and bedrooms.”
Earlier in the day Tyler Perry issued a 30-page production protocol titled Camp Quarantine in which he envisioned a production restart in July at his studio in Atlanta, Georgia.
Cast members on the shows The Oval and Sistas will be flown by private jet to Atlanta and stay on the complex for the duration of the shoot, but not until they have been tested for the virus in their home towns, self-isolated for 16 days before flying, and then got re-tested after landing in Atlanta.