Filed in: Columns, Featured

Back to Work: The Travel Quandary

August 25, 2020 | By

backToworktravelAn absolutely enormous elephant in the room when it comes to production resuming has to be whether or not to travel to another city, state or even country in order to be able to keep working. Unless you’re the head of a department, you’re probably more used to working on productions in your own general area, but these days, being able to travel to where there’s work may be just as important.

Probably one of the main things keeping traveling from being an option is the number of travel restrictions in place in many countries and even states in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID. That’s also been one of the biggest limitations for getting shows going again, because not everyone involved with a production lives in the place where the movie or show is being filmed. As areas like Vancouver and London reopened, they had to insure that the cast, crew and craftspeople from heavily infected areas like parts of the U.S. would not bring COVID back, potentially starting the infection all over again.

There are certainly benefits from working from home and staying regional and local, and that’s especially true amid a pandemic, since you don’t want to be the person traveling to New Zealand for work and accidentally restarting their own spread of COVID. (Don’t worry. That’s one country where you would have to quarantine for two weeks and get tested before you’re allowed out and about.)

As I’ve been following and writing about the filmmaking industries in countries like Canada, New Zealand, England and the Czech Republic (see below) reopening, it’s become more obvious that living outside the United States may offer a lot more options to work.

The real question, and this is one that cast and crew alike need to ask themselves, is whether it makes sense to relocate and move in order to keep working. That’s a question that only you can answer yourself, as well as whether you feel safe enough to travel somewhere to work, knowing you’ll eventually have to come back. Relocating in the middle of a pandemic doesn’t really seem like a great option especially due to those travel restrictions mentioned earlier but also getting Visas and work permits where required may make it timely and not particularly cost-effective. It may even come to the point where one has to ask if it’s worthwhile changing one’s base of operations to be working more regularly.

In some areas, production is more seasonal and cyclical, and just because one particular area is doing very well, that doesn’t meant that productions in the bigger American cities and other states won’t be back by year’s end.

The fact is that this will all eventually blow over, and hopefully sooner rather than later, because we’re already heading into flu season soon. Only you will know whether it’s worth waiting it out or whether you’ll have to make the tougher decision to move where there’s more work.

Other Tidbits: 

Netflix has cancelled two series, The Society and I’m Not Okay with This, due to COVID-related concerns, presumably one being the higher cost to productions with the precautions that need to be in place for shows to resume filming. Although nothing was official, Netflix had quietly renewed I’m Not Okay with This for a second season with new scripts being written. It had been more open with wanting to renew The Society with an announcement last summer. Besides the added cost, both shows have fairly large casts which made scheduling another isue.

Similarly, Comedy Central has cancelled any future seasons for hit show, Drunk History, and long-running show, Tosh 2.0, the latter a bit odd  since Daniel Tosh’s viral video show has been one of the top Tuesday comedy shows since it debuted, and it also seems something very doable using COVID precautions. Back in January, Comedy Central had renewed the show for four more seasons, but they’ve chosen to reverse course. The cable network did the same with Derek Waters’ Drunk History, which had already begun production on its 7th season before COVID hit. These decisions seem to be based on ViacomCBS‘ new direction for the channel to focus on adult animation and topical humor such as The Daily Show.

Amazon’s Carnival Row has wrapped two weeks of production in the Czech Republic to finish up its second season, and it’s been called the “most financially beneficial foreign production since the introduction of production incentives.” It involved roughly 400 crew people to build the sets with 90% of the crew being local. The first Marvel Studios Disney+ series, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, also went back into pre-production in the Czech Republic over the summer as well as a few other productions.

Robert Rodriguez’s Hypnotic, thought to maybe film in London has decided to film in Vancouver, British Columbia instead.

An interesting tidbit from today’s interview with The Handmaid’s Tale production designer, Elisabeth Williams (which will be live later), is that to help mitigate production, they are “hiring real-life couples as extras in scenes requiring a level of intimacy.” This is interesting, since it definitely gives an advantage to actors in a relationship with other actors, but it might also be good for crafts people in relationships since they can offer their services as a duo that won’t need social-distancing.

If you have more to add to the conversation, feel free to Email me at edward@btlnews.com. Hopefully, I’ll be back Thursday with another “Back to Work” installment.

BTL Production Listings