Paul Audley, president of FilmLA, the city’s film office, said today that he expects film and TV production to restart in Los Angeles in reverse order of how it screeched to a sudden halt last month at the start of the COVID-19 shutdown – with smaller productions getting the first jump once the state eases its mandatory stay-at-home orders.
“I have a sense, although nothing official,” he said on an Entertainment Partners webinar, “that we’ll see a return to work sort of in reverse of how it closed down, where we’ll start with smaller productions as restrictions are eased on public gatherings and end up going to the larger ones, which will give us a little run-out time. But no matter how it happens, the industry is ready to start on day one. Everybody’s here; their equipment is here; they can move quickly, and we can move quickly. And we’re doing work to prep our communities and civic organizations to be prepared and to have a communication network to talk about how that will all work when it comes back in.” He also urged the production community to use FilmLA’s staff “to help you plan that when we announce that we’re ready to start opening for business again.”
The hourlong webinar on production in California “before, during and after the COVID-19 crisis,” was hosted by Joe Chianese, Entertainment Partners’ SVP Tax, Business Development and Production Planning. Others on the panel included Colleen Bell, executive director of the California Film Commission, and Susannah Robbins, executive director of the San Francisco Film Commission.
See the webinar here.
Robbins said that as of today, her three-member staff of film permit coordinators has been pressed into duty by the city of San Francisco to work instead as full-time “triage coordinators” to help with the city’s disaster relief efforts. “We’re an office of four – myself and three permitting coordinators. And as of today, my staff is going to be working as triage coordinators, being called in by the city. They are doing this remotely, which is very nice for them, but they will be working five days a week working on disaster relief for the city.”
Her office, she said, will be ready once production resumes. “We’re ready,” Robbins said. “There’s not going to be any difference from before COVID and after as far as our preparedness goes. We have all the workforce that’s ready to go and I have three amazing coordinators who can handle all the permits…I really think we’re ready to go.”
Bell, like the other panelists, agreed that California and its many film offices across the state will be ready to assist productions once cameras start rolling again. “These are extraordinary circumstances right now,” she said. “Production is shuttered right now throughout the state. But people will eventually get back to work, hopefully, sooner rather than later. We’re following guidance from Gov. Newsom’s stay-at-home policy, but as the guidance eventually becomes lifted and people in the production industry will be able to get back to work, we will be there supporting and providing all of our services.”
Chianese, saying that the purpose of the panel was to illuminate “Where we are and where we’re going next,” said that “We know how important production is to the state of California; we know how important production is to the world, which is right now consuming all the content they can. So there’s going to be such a need for content once we’re beyond this horrible crisis.”