California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday released the long-awaited guidelines for restarting film and TV production amid the ongoing pandemic, allowing filming in the state to resume on June 12.
While no one expects cameras to start rolling this Friday, wheels in the industry are turning in hopes to get to that point before the end of the summer.
“To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, productions, cast, crew and other industry workers should abide by safety protocols agreed by labor and management, which may be further enhanced by county public health officers,” the California Department of Public Health said in the guidance released via the Governor’s office.
Reaching an agreement on safety protocols between the management and the Hollywood union and guilds is the next big hurdle following the Governor’s sign-off. That sign-off came just days after the industrywide labor-management safety committee talk force organized by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the major Hollywood studios, submitted to the California and New York governors a White Paper featuring health and safety guidelines for production during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I hear AMPTP is currency in discussions with the major unions and guilds that represent essential on-set staffers and talent, including IATSE, DGA and SAG-AFTRA. I hear the producers are carrying separate negotiations with each union that are often intersecting.
Word is that formal negotiations will be taking place next week, likely with one union at a time, with IATSE rumored to be first.
The hope is to reach deals with the unions/guilds so pre-production could start sometime in July if the rate of coronavirus infections and hospitalization in Los Angeles County does not trigger another tightening of restrictions on businesses. Given the complexity of filming during COVID-19 due to detailed safety protocols that need to be followed, pre-production — as well as actual production — are expected to be lengthier than normal.
Of the four biggest Hollywood production hubs, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta and Vancouver, three, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Vancouver, have set provisional production restart dates, all contingent on local health conditions and studio-guild agreements.
While Georgia was among the first states to reopen their economies, I hear Los Angeles-based productions may start first because plane travel continues to be a deterrent for talent due to COVID-19 concerns. Meanwhile, British Columbia continues to impose 14-day quarantine to anyone entering the country, which would include Hollywood actors and directors flying in to work.
Along with the major studios and streamers, the DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE (including the Art Directors Guild and the Costume Designers Guild), the Teamsters and others were involved in the process of crafting of the recommendations in the White Paper submitted to the Governors.
In another promising sign, at the document’s reveal, the unions and guilds all lauded it as a “solid foundation” and “a critical first step” in the road back to production.
But they also cautioned that more needs to be done. “The discussions will continue between the Producers, the Unions and Guilds over how it affects our respective agreements,” Hollywood’s Teamsters Local 399 said in a message to its members last week. “There is still a lot of work ahead of us to not only ensure the safety of our members on set, but also to ensure the jobs of our members and our collective bargaining agreements are protected throughout this process.”
So far, the International Cinematographers Guild, IATSE Local 600, has issued its own protocols. The other unions and guilds have said that they too are working on their own sets of guidelines which should be released in the coming days.
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