Hollywood has been shut down for months thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, which is still raging throughout the world. (Although granted, it’s raging more in some places than others.) While it may not be advisable in every instance, the film industry is trying to get to work, with directors and studios laying plans and picking start dates on several high-profile projects.
The European Union has more or less flattened the curve on the coronavirus (for now), and we’ve already heard of productions like The Witcher getting back to business in the Czech Republic. That show will officially restart on August 17.
And there are other series and movie that will follow its lead. For example, Variety reports that Hungary is exempting the casts and crews from projects like Denis Villeneuve’s Dune and Showtime’s Halo show (yes, based on the video game) from the EU’s travel ban so they can get shooting again. “Now that the state of emergency has ended, restrictive measures have been eased and the travel restrictions are continually being lifted,” said Hungarian government film commissioner Csaba Káel. “[S]pecial exemption can be granted for non-EU residents to enter Hungary without mandatory quarantine, international projects are being prepared, making it possible to restart production at full capacity.”
Ideally, people from the United States wouldn’t need to be given an exemption, but the coronavirus is running so rampant here I get why the EU isn’t eager to welcome American visitors right now.
Although even in the US, there are places where the coronavirus is under control and places where it’s on the rise. Georgia, which set a single-day record for new cases on July 1, is one of the states where things aren’t really under control. Thanks to an uncapped film incentives program, it’s also a state where Hollywood does a lot of business, and studios are eager to get back to it, whatever the dangers. “Right now, we have people circling like sharks,” Atlanta-based Blackhall Studios CEO Ryan Millsap told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s just a question of who can finally pull the trigger in a world where everybody wants to be working but nobody knows exactly how to work — and it’s going to come down to whoever is ready to go tomorrow.”
Movies and series on track to resume filming in Georgia include Stranger Things, which is reportedly targeting a restart date of September 17, as well as the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki. “We’ve put a whole lot of thinking into how we should do this safely, and I think we’re going to learn and iterate a lot in the next few months in terms of how these protocols work,” said Pinewood Atlanta Studios president and CEO Frank Patterson, who’s spent months looking into how to make his facilities safer and invested $1 million in new protocols. Let’s hope it’s enough.
Elsewhere in the world, we know that James Cameron and his team are back to work on Avatar 2 in New Zealand. In nearby Australia, Marvel is prepping to resume filming on Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in Australia by late July, according to Deadline. And I’m not sure where Guillermo del Toro is shooting his stop-motion animated musical Pinocchio, but he’s prepping to get back to work, too, creating an 80-page document laying out the safety protocols to follow when the cameras start rolling again.
“In stop-motion, you have many sets nearby one another in a warehouse like space,” del Toro told IndieWire. “You can have 10 sets in one space. We had to create a protocol where we now space the sets a certain number of feet. We created different shifts so no one is exposed. In this moment, security is paramount. Health, safety is the number one concert. We got to get used to it…I don’t think we can go back to what we consider the old normal. Everything will be a little altered.”
That’s the sense I get from a lot of these industry players, that even when production does restart, it’s not gonna the same. Hopefully everything goes as smoothly (and safely) as possible.