Business of film production in the middle of a pandemic – how things have changed
The entertainment industry is not immune to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is somewhat more uniquely positioned to struggle with its implications.
For one, movie production has proceeded in fits and starts ever since March 2020 when lockdowns and massive restrictions on travel swept the globe. Aside from making travel difficult for actors and production teams, this also hampered the timely delivery of materials and supplies to many filming locations.
Of course, this problem was one that was easily tackled through innovative rescheduling to the usage of stock footage and green screen. One prominent example of how difficult on-site production was for even the biggest films, look no further than Tom Cruise’s viral rant at staff in the United Kingdom in Hertfordshire for his film, the Paramount Pictures production “Mission Impossible 7”.
Screaming at the crew who he perceived had violated COVID-19 precautionary measures, the whole episode drew the public’s attention to the seriousness of the pandemic as well as the need to pay attention to the guidelines health officials have given the public. It is reported that, when the production moved to Venice, Cruise had enlisted the support of robots to help enforce COVID-19 precautions. This comes in addition to regular screenings and temperature checks that many production houses have employed for on-site staff.
Change hasn’t just hit production, but also pre-production as well. One thing that has changed immensely over the past year is the process of auditioning for a role. Like most office-related tasks, this, too, is now in the realm of Zoom meetings. In fact, another viral moment wherein a director seemingly disparaged an aspiring actor’s apartment has further drawn attention to just how different things are now in the era of the pandemic. Long gone are the large gatherings wherein many different applicants were given a shot at a role and somewhat here to stay are Zoom meetings in which they have to convey competency and charisma through a screen.
Yet, most concerning of all is the fact that theaters are completely shut down in many parts of the world. It means that, even if you can make a movie, where will you show it? This has led to nothing less than a revolution in the way films are delivered with some analysts saying that the novel coronavirus simply sped up this process. Naturally, we are talking about the debut of new films on streaming services, something Warner Bros. did with “Wonder Woman 1984”. Of course, this has drawn the ire of the movie theater industry but, seeing as how they are on the ropes in quite a bad way, it hasn’t impacted the decision-making processes at Disney and other major studios to go on ahead with streaming releases of new movies.
Beyond even this is the impact of delayed production and debuts for many films, most prominently being the latest (and last) James Bond film featuring Daniel Craig. Film financing is a precarious business and one that is quite often tied to a strict production and release schedule. The disruption of this chain of events across the industry at a massive scale still hasn’t made its impact known on the Hollywood landscape in total but analysts fear that, at a minimum, fewer films will be made in the coming years as financing becomes harder to obtain in an uncertain economic environment.