Hollywood is back in action, though recovery has been slow and steady, says Colleen Bell, director of the California Film Commission. She has been working closely with the state’s Department of Public Health to prioritize safety on set during the ongoing pandemic.
In March, all approved projects under the California film and TV tax credit program requested force majeure, meaning that their status for receiving tax credits won’t be affected. Ten, including TV series “The Orville,” “Animal Kingdom” and “Good Girls” and films “King Richard” and “Macbeth,” have resumed production since June 12.
When Bell visited a production site in mid-November, more than 1,500 production staff had returned to sets of seven TV series, as well as indie movies, documentaries and feature films. But even with the recent expansion of soundstages in Santa Clarita, projects that had been disrupted by the pandemic are still working under tighter timelines to accommodate the updated schedules of facility spaces and talents.
According to Bell, another challenge faced by smaller independent productions is the cost to comply with COVID protocols. “There have been productions that found out that there’s a number of individuals who tested positive on set and ultimately decided that it’s just going to be easier and more cost-effective to pause production,” she says.
While the state government continues to monitor the fluctuating number of coronavirus cases, Bell says California is “prepared to handle the demand for production infrastructure, because it’s up on our priority list to get this major business back in full swing.”
She is also hopeful that positive adjustments to life on set, namely the limited work hours and improved sanitary conditions, will stay in place after the pandemic. She notes a new spirit of collaboration and uniformity that we’ve never seen before.”