Although restaurants, bars, and other small businesses are being shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic, Hollywood appears to have weathered the storm by adopting strict standards of conduct on film sets. According to Netflix executives, this trend will continue for the next one to two years.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Momita Sengupta, Netflix’s VP Production Manager for Original Series, and Kwame Parker, Director of Production Management, talked about the company’s “Let’s Keep Rolling” campaign to educate employees about the importance of social distancing so that people can work.
“Everything that we are doing now with testing and PPE is probably going to remain through all of next year — not probably, it is going to remain through all of next year,” Parker told THR.
“It’s been a challenge from day one. There is nothing about our industry and making shows that is about being six feet apart,” Sengupta said of the measures. “We are a touchy-feely, close-contact industry. We have fantastic protocols but for an industry that is so used to coming close to each other and working out an issue — a director talking to an actor about what she or he needs from that scene — to have to do that with your mask, to be six feet apart, to have all these monitors saying, ‘Hey, watch your distance,’ it’s really, really hard.”
As to why the film industry was allowed to continue working while other industries, especially the restaurant industry, remain shut down, Parker credited the on-set prototocols.
“I think a lot has to do with our protocols…We are pulling from the community, whether it be construction or transpo [drivers], we are pulling a lot of individuals from the community and we are introducing them to a higher testing cadence, definitely higher than what the community is doing, and we are putting them in multilayered PPE,” said Parker. “So we are now basically creating a safe zone slowly again for a community.”
“It’s PPE first, testing second because that’s what’s really preventing the spread,” Parker added. “In the community people are being tested once, that’s it. On our shows, you have individuals being tested weekly and some three times a week, some even more depending on what’s going on. So I think a lot of that plays into it because, again, it’s a risk assessment.”
Americans got a small glimpse of the pressure that the film industry is under this week when audio leaked of Tom Cruise raging at crew members on the set of “Mission: Impossible 7” warning them that the industry could be shut down in a heartbeat if something were to go wrong.
“They’re back there in Hollywood making movies right now because of us. We are creating thousands of jobs, you motherf****rs,” he shouted. “That’s it. No apologies. You can tell it to the people that are losing their f***ing homes because our industry is shut down. “