How a global pandemic impacts the film industry

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Lucia Granja

During a pandemic, there’s more behind the scenes than viewers know.

When the pandemic lockdowns hit last year and everyone was confined to their homes, millions turned to their favorite shows and movies to keep themselves entertained. But what happens when filmmakers are also restricted by the lockdowns?
Studios have had to adapt and experiment in order to continue production during a global pandemic when everyone is impatient for new content.
“Jurassic World: Dominion” was the first major production to continue production after being shut down due to lockdowns. They tried to keep the crew as safe as possible, by isolating in hotels, having mandatory COVID tests, and even hiring runners to carry messages across the crew as everyone was forced to stay 6 feet apart. According to Variety, the production of “Jurassic World: Dominion” had about 90 additional sinks, 200 hand sanitizer stations and completed around 50,000 swab tests while shooting the movie. The movie’s studio, Universal, didn’t blink an eye on the stupendously expensive costs of being safe during a pandemic, but the same cannot be said for smaller scale productions.
Many other shoots have been shut down and have not restarted filming, due to the immense expenses associated with filming during a pandemic and keeping the crew safe. Many Netflix shows that usually release a new season yearly could not film the next season, disappointing avid fans.

The expensive nature of shooting during a pandemic and the shutdowns of smaller scale productions may lead the movie and tv show industry to be even more dominated by big studios, who can afford to pay for safety precautions, than it already was.”

Other shows have figured out how to keep viewers happy without endangering their crew or spending too much money. The 2019 summer hit “Euphoria” with Emmy-winning actor Zendaya planned to release season 2 during summer 2020, but production was cut short. To keep fans excited, director Sam Levinson scripted and shot two supplementary episodes that were released in December and January, respectively. The first episode followed a conversation between Zendaya’s character, Rue, and her Narcotics Anonymous sponsor, Ali, about her experience with addiction and the events at the end of season one. The second episode was similar, a conversation between the other main character, Jules, with her new therapist, going over season one, and foreshadowing events in season two. Both these supplementary episodes centered around conversations between only two people, with flashes to clips from the first season. Because of this, the crew needed to produce them was highly decreased, making shooting safer during the pandemic.
As vaccines are becoming more widespread, COVID-19 restrictions will decrease allowing studios to slowly go back to normal. But the expensive nature of shooting during a pandemic and the shutdowns of smaller scale productions may lead the movie and tv show industry to be even more dominated by big studios, who can afford to pay for safety precautions, than it already was.