Induced Coma or death certificate ? Many professionals of the cinema wondering about the future of big productions after the coronavirus while the Hollywood studios are looking for innovative solutions to boost the shooting, paralyzed by the pandemic for weeks.
In California, the cameras take dust since mid-march, the guidelines for social distancing does not mix well with the teams, crowded mobilized on film sets sometimes cramped.
And even if the authorities are starting to think about a gradual easing of the containment, professionals from the entertainment point out that the film industry, characterized by production costs and insurance premiums are very high, might be radically transformed by the pandemic.
“It is impossible to make a Star Wars or a Marvel movie as soon as tomorrow morning,” says Nicolas Chartier, producer, oscar-winning film “Hurt”.
“It is logical, there are too many legal risks and too much fear”, was his colleague, Stephen Nemeth (“Las Vegas Parano”).
“I do not expect to produce a film like Dune in that time. I don’t see how one could make a epic movie like Mad Max. These films represent a team of 250 people and 250 others as extra. There is no way to control it,” he explains.
Even if California took swift action to stem the epidemic of Covid-19, the State has recorded more than 45,000 cases, mainly in the region of Los Angeles, the birthplace of american cinema.
The risk is too great and the insurance companies refuse therefore to cover interruptions in shooting caused by coronavirus. However, these delays can cost millions of dollars when it comes to big-budget blockbuster movies that Hollywood has the secret.
Some studios have well imagined to sign a legal disclaimer to employees to avoid lawsuits, but the idea seems difficult to implement, especially with regard to stars world-famous.
Others are studying the possibility of replacing the extra humans by rigging it in the crowd scenes, but “it would cost a fortune,” notes Nicolas Chartier.
“In my opinion, the big productions such as we knew them will not return before there was a vaccine. If they become one day what we have known”, warns Stephen Nemeth.
“A moral dilemma”
In the short term, measures of body temperature or blood tests may become necessary to access the sets.
In Sweden and Denmark, the productions have taken on trays with sterilized where one experiences the distancing physical.
In Hollywood, it is Steven Soderbergh, the film’s director, visionary “Contagion” in 2011, which has taken the head of a “task force” charged with exploring similar options.
Such solutions, however, are poorly adapted to the constraints of the film and may lead to inequalities among professions, warn producers John de Meuron and Elena Bawiec.
“The most vulnerable are the technicians: designers, machinists, electricians, etc,” said Mr. de Meuron. “We can’t keep two meters away from each other… The first assistant is just next to the cameraman, they are a few centimeters of distance”, he explains.
Even if it is not established that patients develop an immunity to the Covid-19, it may eventually apply to the employees of a shoot to submit a certificate showing that they have antibodies. “But people will go to-they do it purposely infect and then be immune? It is a moral dilemma,” says Elena Bawiec.
Waiting better, the filmmakers need to innovate and experiment with new techniques, often by revising downward their ambitions. Stephen Nemeth is preparing to make his film in his house in the Hollywood Hills, where he is able to host a team reduced the time of a short shoot.
“We could have production hyper-regional, hyper-closed”, like in Malibu or the Hollywood Hills, ” he said.
“This is what I am doing, and I swear to you that I’m not the only one”.
Nicolas Chartier is planning to make a film “for peanuts”, via Zoom or Skype, in which four couples talk about a murder. “The actors filmeraient themselves at home, with their own clothes and without makeup”, he explains.