//Changes in Hollywood latitudes: Virus
Changes in Hollywood latitudes: Virus

Changes in Hollywood latitudes: Virus

Laid-off are the thousands of non-essential employees who worked behind the scenes and now collect the unemployment they earned. Or maybe that contract employee who was in between productions at the time of the pandemic and not eligible for unemployment compensation. Or that extremely nervous character actor who watches the phone not ring with those vital phone calls that put a rent check in the pocket. Even if you are lucky enough to still be working, you spend your working day worrying about when the job will end, or taking crap from the boss because there isn’t another opportunity across the street like there use to be.
So how do we handle this nightmare? Shall we do as the young and faint of heart would have us do? Protect the old and infirmed and otherwise ignore it following Sweden’s herd immunity protocol. Or maybe we should do a 360, carrying a full contingent of facemasks, disinfectants, social distancing measurement rules, and a little book full of virus shaming quotes incase needed. Since the latter choice is the one most implemented in the film industry, lockdown and unemployment will probably be with us throughout 2020 and most likely through 2021.
The first major catastrophe to the Indie world was the Cannes International Film Festival, the most important Festival in the world, especially to Art House movies. To the winners of the Cannes Film Festival, there will be no awards outside of the 56 deserving participants will still be selected and stamped as usual. The Festival owners were forced to shut down on March 17th due to the French government requirement but did everything they could do to keep the festival in the process but eventually yielded to a much stronger power and the Festival Palace was made into an emergency homeless shelter. Most of the other festivals worldwide have closed their doors also and the 2020 films will take a severe beating in all-important ‘buzz’ as well as revenue. The American Film Market which does about $1B a year in Film Business is scheduled for mid-November 2020. It will be interesting to see if Hollywood money hawks can forgo another important shutdown.
It is no secret productions of Independent film have taken a horrific toll on the film industry due to the virus. Industry analysts and the general feeling in Hollywood is that production will start picking up at the end of 2020, however like any other predictions with the virus, most feel it is unreliable at best. One of the biggest handicaps to production is not able to get bonding for new productions due to the refusal of pandemic coverage. Financing of any film is dependent on full completion bonding and without the pandemic bond, the institutional finding will not be available.
This means, the only films produced in 2020, are those that were financed before the virus shutdown. A few self-funded films may also be made. One Independent Film whose release was delayed is Deon Taylor’s ‘Fatale’ starring Hilary Swank and Michael Ealy. Lionsgate who owns the domestic rights had it scheduled for release in June but delayed until August. There is no telling the total loss of ‘Fatale’ which will probably be huge due to the closure of the theaters. Lionsgate losses on ‘Fatale’ are just an example of the financial devastation of a major Independent in 2020.
As well as opportunities for employment on fewer productions, production workers can also expect to see a decline in their pay due to the virus. The same production money available to produce the movie last year must be spent to social distance, work in groups of ten or less, disinfect, and all the other work protocols required in the new age of virus work requirements.