With New York city’s economy in a slump, film production has been an optimistic spot, with production crews again filling the NYC’s sound stages and, gradually, the streets.
With Broadway gloomy, concert venues sealed shut, and live performances strictly limited, New York’s livewire arts and entertainment industry has been overwhelmed by the pandemic. But amongst the decline, film production has been a cheerful spot, with TV and streaming series starting to book New York city’s sound stages in the face of a virus in New York and across the nation.
The film and television business, which brought $60 billion to New York in the year before COVID hit, is not yet back to its old altitudes. Of the nearly 80 series that were filming or scheduled to film in NYC in the 2019-2020 season, 35 were back at work by early November — counting prevalent shows like “Younger and “Blue Bloods” — with another five that have started since, according to the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.
Still, in a post-pandemic-weary Manhattan, whose streetscapes are marked by boarded-up storefronts and “for rent” signs, the sight of tons of shiny production trucks and the buzz of personnel rolling equipment on and off film sets is giving the city a hint of its former self. It is also getting thousands of folks back to work, and shining the image of New York as a tough metropolis to the millions who watch New York-based television shows globally.
The intersecting safety procedures of the industry’s labor unions, the Hollywood parent corporations, and the New York state and city government have steered to vigorous safety protections, at least for major studio developments. While almost regular virus testing is turning up coronavirus cases among the staff and actors, the productions, for the most part, have sustained with few delays. To please the homebound viewer’s eagerness for new content, studios have been willing to pay big for safety procedures, with production costs inflating by around 30 percent.
Inside New York city’s live television studios, normal testing, social distancing, and masks have also permitted a return to production, though with vast changes from the pre-pandemic era.