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Changes in Hollywood latitudes: Virus

Published: Jun 20, 2021

Espresso editors believe that the impact of COVID19 has produced such a huge effect on Hollywood that it warrants a dedicated page of opinions. Billy LAx and his writers explore the inner turmoil as well as some potentially innovative workarounds that may improve the industry. Please feel free to comment on how the virus has affected you or what your perspective of the industry impacts. 

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” Protect the old and infirmed and otherwise ignore it following Sweden’s herd immunity protocol.”

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Billy LAx – Chief Editor

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? 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.

CC Bell – Content Writer

There have been wars, lots of them were twenty years old’s had to fight, many of them losing limbs, emotions and life, is what I have to think of during this age of being a twenty year old with COVID 19 taxing our burning desire to succeed. I have parents and grandparents and elderly neighbors that I desperately do not want to get sick. What would I do if I lost my grandma because we were not taking precautions? But there is that part of me that really hates this and does not think it is fare. I personally have taken bigger risks than what I would take by catching the virus and if all other considerations were not in play, I would flip ‘em all off and go have a great time at the beach every week. But all other things are in play and I will have to live with it.

I started thinking about being a filmmaker when I was maybe eight years old, since my parents loved the film, and would talk rather frequently about Actors and different filmmakers. They would rent films out of blockbuster and watch them with me as something fun to do with me. Yeah, they were good parents, but I do not think they really knew the influence those films had on me. billy talks about the innovations he has seen in the film industry over his career, and mine is not nearly so much, but to me, it is a massive amount of knowledge to get one’s arms around. This is the place where over-whelming can come in and I take a step back and trust billy, not to let it rule me.

But asking me to stay home from the beach is one thing, asking me not to shoot my movie is quiet another. I mean, my grandma is not on the film set. Why should I let someone shame me out of making my movie like some of my friends and family unwisely try to do leading to, let us say, contentious moments to say the least? Even billyLAx, my editor, cautioned against it, but then he relented, knowing full and well what telling a first-time filmmaker he cannot make is movie meant. I promised him to take all the precaution’s necessary to keep everyone safe and discuss everything with him as he is very precautions being ancient, like fifty years old or something like that, and so he blessed it off, walking away muttering something like “crazy-ass kids!” When he asked if I wanted to give my perspective on this in an editorial, you bet I jumped at it. Any time you see something in writing, on your own website, you are more apt to see the other side. Funny thing is, he promises to not delete anything just because he does not like it or it is someone else’s point of view. Wait until he reads this. Laughing.

Getting billy’s permission, as well as Zalaks’ buy-in is only the first hurdle; getting the film professionals cooperation is also challenging. The nice thing about being twenty, is you have a tendency to deal with other twenty-year old’s. Since it is a low budget movie, I do not have to worry about bonding so that is one obstacle that stops the production of higher-budget Indies, that is not a concern of mine. My dad did not want to be my investor for a certain while, due to the lack of potential distribution he felt, would leave me with a movie in the can that would go nowhere. Probably if I were thinking rationally, I would agree with him, but when it comes to my movie, maybe I am not so clear-headed. After dad and I went round and round, he decided that the movie could not wait for the end of COVID 19 because there probably will not be an end of COVID 19 within the near future. His rationalized that there would be a workaround and the movies would sell through a modified or different venue.

So, after some convincing with ultra-safe COVID 19 guards put into place, the equipment people, the production people, and the actors have agreed to do the movie. We are lining up the production and I am excited. I am a bit concerned about the distribution though. Dad was right and we both know he was, but he wanted to see me put together my film as much as I did. billyLAx and Zalak have lots of connections and dad has lots of smart ideas and between the three of us, we will find a way. One idea is the revival of a few outdoor theaters. Dad came up with that and we are looking into it. We do have Espresso Films online site and we can do a virtual showcase online.



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