Show production resumes amidst COVID-19

At the beginning of quarantine, numerous shows and movies were instructed to halt production immediately, having to stop mid-production or to cut episodes off the season. Now, many shows and movies are set to premiere this fall and have returned to filming with many safety precautions. 

Some shows, such as The Bachelorette, are using the bubble atmosphere, where the show’s crew and actors are required to quarantine for two weeks prior to filming and during the entirety of filming. In most circumstances, this method has worked well, but it became an issue for the plotline of The Bachelorette.

“The rub, as fans already know, is that show lead Clare Crawley may have already quit the season after falling in love, allegedly leading producers to pull former Bachelor contestant Tayshia Adams into the bubble as a replacement,” stated Vanity Fair.

The Bachelorette’s bubble method may have ruined the show, but fans speculate this unexpected twist will be fully dramatized for its premiere on Oct. 13.

Unlike The Bachelorette, which relies on heavy interaction, some shows already worked well for COVID, such as Big Brother. Big Brother premiered on Aug. 5 and was able to resume production much quicker due to its naturally distanced setup.

“Of all the reality shows to relaunch, it is CBS’s long-running Big Brother that may be best equipped for a quarantined shoot,” said Vanity Fair. “After all, the cast is already locked into a house for the duration of the show.”

Another issue that had to be addressed was touching other characters. Many shows rely on the actors touching one another for the storyline, especially in developing romantic relationships. This is an issue that needed to be addressed for Riverdale, a drama that follows many teen relationships.

KJ APA, Archie Andrews on Riverdale, took to Instagram on Sep. 23 to share a video of him and on-screen girlfriend Camila Mendes washing their mouths out prior to a kissing scene. 

Overall, many shows are seeing the need to follow new safety measures as they begin production. America’s Got Talent, which premiered May 26, set specific guidelines before production.

“New safety measures included judges arriving in their own cars, handling their microphones and sitting socially-distanced during the act,” according to ET. “Additionally, filming took place outside, there was regular testing on set and a pod system was set up for production.”

Movies like Jurassic World: Dominion are hiring professionals to ensure all guidelines are properly followed.

Jurassic World: Dominion is commissioning a private medical facility called Your Doctor to manage the entire production’s medical requirements,” according to ET. “This takes the form of COVID-19, fever and antibody testing but also they will review all hand sanitizer, social distancing measures, updates to government and best practice guidelines.”

Jurassic World: Dominion is also forming “Green Zones” all around the filming area. These “Green Zones” are intended to “stop any untested crew from coming in as a further measure to prevent any spread of COVID.” 

Another issue screenwriters are facing is how to address COVID-19 on their own shows. For many shows, it is easy to ignore it, but shows with essential workers are finding ways to address it within their storyline.

9-1-1 chose to align their show with the actual quarantine experience, showing the actors after these lost 6 months as well as commenting on what they may have done during quarantine and what their life would actually look like as an essential worker.

“As a first responder show, we will show our characters responding to calls using the same protocols real-life firefighters and paramedics would observe,” said 9-1-1 executive producer Tim Minear for Entertainment Weekly.

Chicago Med is another show predominantly focusing on essential workers and they too will directly address COVID-19.

Chicago Med will address the pandemic head-on. There will be a COVID unit in the hospital, incoming patients will be tested by paramedics, and one character will be recovering from the disease. It will be part of daily life, and adjustments will be made,” said Chicago Med executive producer Dick Wolf for Entertainment Weekly.

Given that many TV series had to cut episodes off their last season due to the abrupt shutdown, shows like Grey’s Anatomy are choosing to address those lost episodes as well as the pandemic.

“Specifically, season 17 will feature two timelines, one picking up right after the events of the finale and one taking place a couple weeks into COVID,” said Grey’s Anatomy showrunner Krista Vernoff for Entertainment Weekly.

There will be a lot of new challenges in the film industry as they pick back up, but according to USA Today, “Filmmakers always find a way.”

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