Following weeks of lockdown, production for several shows has resumed with new safety protocols in place to protect cast and crew members. Leaders in the entertainment industry are looking to innovate their approaches to content production, including reimagining budget allocations and what series will look like for viewers.
The eighth episode of Variety’s Rebooting The Entertainment Industry series, “Success in Entertainment Production During COVID-19,” was sponsored by PwC and Ad Council and moderated by Variety’s artisans editor Jazz Tangcay.
The panelists featured included Randy Barbato, co-founder of the World of Wonder and executive producer of “RuPaul’s Drag Race;” Jessica Rodriguez, president of entertainment and chief marketing officer at Univision; Michelle Sneed, president at Tyler Perry Studios; Rob Wade, president of Alternative Series at Fox Entertainment; and Derek Smith, entertainment and media partner at PwC.
The panelists discussed how halting or reconfiguring production on their respective shows — which were either already filmed, underway or in pre-production in March and had great momentum — threw a wrench into season plotlines and financial plans. Each company had to navigate protecting its employees’ safety while ensuring audience engagement.
However, once it was evident employees were eager to return to work, the panelists said they formed collaborations with current team members, in addition to bringing in experts, to reconfigure production processes.
“I think it’s a testament to, you know, you’re working from a creative point of view and you’re working from a strategic point of view and a logistical point of view about how to get people back to work safely,” Wade said. “And you’re kind of doing all these things at the same time, but ultimately I think it’s the old adage ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way.’”