Once Upon A Time in COVID

Photo from @onceinhollywood on Instagram

The upsidedown Spiderman kiss, the embrace on the deck of the Titanic, the ballroom dances in Pride and Prejudice. What will happen to these magical movie moments? 

Aside from the lack of entertainment for audiences, the cancellation and postponing of many projects has hit the film industry’s economy hard. As productions were forced to cease in mid-March, and thousands of employees were fired or furloughed. As of June 12, California was granted permission to film with New York following the weeks after in their phase 2 reopening. Large production studios are still closed on a major scale, but the ability to film again is a big relief after having to shut down for months.

Photo from latimes.com

The box office could lose up to a reported $17 billion dollars from the closing of movie theaters across the country. Because people have been forced to turn to other avenues for entertainment, the usage of streaming services has spiked. Release dates for major movies like the latest James Bond have been pushed back. It may seem like an industry as creative as the movie one would be able to come up with the solutions that they so desperately crave. Aside from the usual challenges that come with filming, there are costumes to be considered, marketing, editors, sound engineers, casting and set. It is more difficult than ever before to edit a scene or remove something that potentially may need to be re-shot. 

Photo from nbcnews.com

Prioritizing who and what needs to be on set and making everything as safe as possible has been the main concern. The ability to work together over video chat and do tasks on virtual programs has saved a lot of the communication. It’s also forced people across multiple fields to reevaluate how much work can be done from home. Preproduction, postproduction, marketing and various other projects have been completed and faster rates due to working virtually. For the first time in history, the Oscars will review films that have been streamed for Best Picture award, and combine the awards for Sound Mixing and Sound Editing into Best Sound.

Studios are also considering more flexible approaches to movie premiers, such as going with on-demand releases. The movie Trolls World Tour released online grossed around $200 million. 

Photo from nbcnews.com

Since some filming has been allowed to go back into production, Hollywood’s unions have released parameters for working on set. The reports written by the Director’s Guild of America details what crews are required to follow that want to go back. ‘The Safe Way Forward’ dictates a new role of “health safety supervisor” along with an accompanying department. Furthermore, frequent testing is required in addition to zones to separate different workers for maximum safety. All production sets have a strict set of guidelines

  • No visitors allowed
  • Shoot days are limited to ten hours to allow for preparation
  • Rules set in place for casting, location scouting, eating and catering
  • New health supervisors are the authority and cannot be overruled when making decisions about production
  • System of zones on set

The film industry will have to adapt in order to be able to continue with production. Will recently filmed movies be able to distract and immerse us the way they used to? Or will the changes put in place be so noticeable that movies and tv shows are forever changed?

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