Hollywood making a comeback: Studios, guilds, unions reach COVID return-to-work agreement

After months of negotiations, Hollywood's unions and management came to an agreement to return to work safely in the coronavirus era.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020
TV, movie production finally revving up again after COVID stoppage
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Hollywood studios reached an agreement with the DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, Teamsters and the Basic Crafts to return to work amid COVID-19 safety protocols.

BURBANK, Calif. (KABC) -- For months, film and television production in Hollywood has been mostly stopped due to the pandemic. But production is slowly but surely starting to rev up again - safely, of course, in the age of COVID.

Production guilds, unions and studios came to an agreement about how to get everyone back to work.

Among the millions of Americans unemployed due to the pandemic were the people behind the films and television shows you watch every day. The entertainment industry, one of the hardest hit this year, now has a plan in place to bring back full-scale productions.

"This is the most difficult thing I've had to deal with, and I think the same is true for our industry. We've had to rethink how we work and how we operate from every level," said Steve Dayan, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 399.

A new agreement between the guilds, unions and studios is historic. Representatives say it was only possible through unprecedented coordination over four months.

"The collaboration with the studios has also gone well," said Dayan. "These were difficult collaborations, they weren't easy. But I think there was a mutual respect on both sides... safely and healthily."

New measures that must be implemented by those in charge of production: strict and regular COVID testing, safety protocols, PPE and physical distancing. Workers, including the many freelancers, will get COVID-19 sick leave and quarantine pay. On-camera talent may also be working with fewer people on set.

"Performers are the only people in our entire country who are going to be returning to work without always wearing a mask. And without always being able to maintain that physical distance. The testing became so crucial to that," said Duncan Crabtree Ireland, SAG-AFTRA COO & General Counsel.

The agreement itself is about 60 pages and details how to manage every possible scenario, including intimate scenes. Cheating with camera angles and daily COVID-19 testing are just some of the ways to protect the artists.

"That's not only true for love-making scenes and intimate scenes like that, it's also true for scenes like fight scenes where there's a lot of physical exertion," said Crabtree-Ireland.

These changes could make productions cost more, but in the end, everyone is just happy to get back to work.