The world is attempting a tricky and terrifying balance at the moment: how do you flatten the curve of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic while also ensuring every economy on the planet doesn’t flatten alongside it? For the United Kingdom, that means sending people back to work, but with strenuous new guidelines in place. And yes, that includes film and TV productions, which means The Batman, The Witcher, The Little Mermaid and other major shoots may resume sooner than we thought.
Deadline has the news, reporting that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent declaration that citizens should return to work as soon as their workplaces are “secure” also applies to film and TV sets. The trade notes that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is working to get production up and running, working on plans and guidelines that will keep actors and crew members safe from contamination as cameras begin rolling. A spokesperson for the the department stated:
“The government is working closely with the screen sector to understand how different types of productions can comply with social distancing guidelines, and give confidence to people in the TV and film industries that there are safe ways in which they can return to work.”
Although this means work could resume soon for thousands of out-of-work crew members, it also means the work itself will be very different. It’s tough to imagine social distancing on a film set, where dozens of people are scrambling about, working in close quarters, and frequently touching the same equipment. How film production changes in the U.K. could suggest what film production will look like stateside once studios are given the go-ahead to resume in Hollywood. At the very least, we can imagine regular temperature checks for cast and crew, quarantining actors who travel abroad for filming, and all manner of new safety measures that could reshape how movies are made.
Numerous productions were shut down when the pandemic truly reared its head in the U.K. including The Batman, The Witcher, Peaky Blinders, Sex Education, and more. Disney’s live-action take on The Little Mermaid was days away from rolling cameras when it was shut down. And as a movie and TV fan and someone whose livelihood depends on movies and TV getting made so our website can report on them, I’m encouraged and curious about what the future holds here. But I’m also wary, because it also sounds like everyone is rushing to get back to work, valuing the economy over the health and well-being of the many people who are especially susceptible to COVID. Yes, I’m excited for the new Batman movie too, but I really hope the right people are thinking this through. And I’m not convinced.
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