The latest on Filming in Hollywood During COVID

Written by James RobinsonFebruary 22, 2021

The LA County Department of Public Health has recently released new safety procedures for film, television, and music productions as filming in the region hits an all-time low: Shortened quarantine periods of ten days for those who have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus, and studio audiences of less than 50 folks will now be allowed.

These new procedures also include a requirement that hired audiences must be employed by a production company designed for that precise purpose, and the same group of individuals should be used by the production as much as possible. Audience participants should be seated at least six feet away from each other and wear a face mask.

Pre-employment PCR tests are now mandatory for all productions, including short-term or one-time productions. And the actors and crew should be tested once a week at least. According to FilmLA, which distributes filming permits for the county, “The majority of productions have already been meeting or over and above this requirement and [the Health Dept.] really appreciate that.”

The isolation period has been shortened to 10 days, from 14, for those who have been in contact with somebody infected with COVID-19.

Anybody who works in close contact with others (such as wardrobe, make-up, and hair) must wear a face covering and a face shield.

The procedures seem to codify practices that Hollywood has already been doing. And in spite of filming being allowed in Los Angeles, it has been a sluggish restart for the industry. According to FilmLA in its most recent study, filming has hit a record low. At the end of 2020, there were only 18,993 productions in Los Angeles, compared to 36,540 in 2019 (a 48% drop). It’s the lowest production numbers in 25 years.

But it’s not all depraved news. One industry has recorded filming progression: reality television. There were way more filming days for reality TV productions in 2020 than in 2019. But otherwise, scripted television, film, and commercial productions all saw a reduction in 2020. The sharpest decline was in film production, which dropped 55.8% from 2019.

What does this mean for NYC?

NYC entertainers could get their long-awaited curtain call from the pandemic.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced strategies to restart live performances in New York City.

The advantages aim to bring back the city’s sleeping arts sector through a mixture of socially-distant and COVID-19 tested events. Cuomo said they’ll set the stage to ultimately reopen Broadway.

Cuomo’s proposal — NY PopsUp — is a statewide, 100-day festival offering 300 “pop up” events. The events launched on Feb. 20 at the Javits Center and run until Labor Day.

Definite entertainers include Hugh Jackman, Amy Schumer, Alec Baldwin, Chris Rock, Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patti Smith, Mandy Patinkin, and Billy Porter, according to a press release.

There will be a blend of in-person and online events intended to thread the needle between live performances without mass crowds, Cuomo said.

In closing, the influence of COVID-19 on local film production and jobs cannot be exaggerated. With production stopped for 87 days and the industry liable and careful in returning to work, total annual production dropped to unparalleled lows.