Sydney, the capital of the Australian entertainment industry, has gone into a two-week lockdown after a surge of the highly-transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus.
The city’s stay-at-home orders have firmly shuttered all cinemas, theaters, restaurants and amusement parks. But, film and TV production has not had to halt.
“Thankfully the track record of our state, New South Wales is to keep businesses open as much as possible, and if you have to leave home to work you are able to do that,” said John Schwarz of Deeper Water Films. He is currently filming the Stan original film “Transfusion,” a thriller starring Sam Worthington (“Avatar”) as a former Special Forces operative, who is battling to cope with life after the loss of his wife and is thrust into the criminal underworld to keep his only son from being taken from him.
“We haven’t stopped production at all. Today we are shooting a motor-cycle scene with Sam Worthington just south of Sydney. So there has been no change to the production through this lockdown. We have very safe covid protocols which we have always practiced and continue to.”
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Another of the state’s highest profile productions, Marvel’s “Thor Love and Thunder” recently wrapped, and similarly escaped disruption.
Schwarz says conditions in Sydney now are significantly different from when South Australia announced a hard five-day lock down last November, which coincided with the first day of shooting “Gold” with Zac Efron. “We all had to go home there was a curfew and we couldn’t continue at all until we were granted an exemption,” he said.
Sydney had proudly been the “open for business” city, where life was normal and predominantly mask-free. It had avoided major city-wide lockdowns that had been incurred by Melbourne and other Australian cities since March last year. While a lockdown could tarnish Sydney’s international reputation as a COVID-safe place to film, Schwarz believes that is an inaccurate assessment at this stage.
“If you read Sydney is in lockdown you might think it’s not going to be a place where you want to go and shoot. But production is still open to work and this will pass. I believe there won’t be any interruption to filming.”
The latest outbreak was seemingly caused by a quarantine breech, and allowed to propagate by the city’s still low uptake of vaccines in the population.