Writer-performer and studio owner Tyler Perry previously shut down all production on his original programming for film and TV shows due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to a recently published article by Deadline, Perry plans to start production on multiple TV series in June at his Atlanta-based Tyler Perry Studios with a strict protocol that involves testing and sequestering the shows’ cast and crew on the expansive lot.
One 22-episode season of a Tyler Perry series – which he writes, directs and executive produces – is shot in two and a half weeks, which makes quarantining the cast and crew of a show more feasible than an average production of eight months. His shows film entirely on the studio lot which features interior and exterior sets, as well as housing on the premises. Officially opened last fall, the Tyler Perry Studios occupies 330 acres of the former Fort McPherson complex, a military base that used to house troops in barracks.
Additionally, there are 10-20 houses on the lot built as part of a neighborhood in which to film the shows. Rather than build fake facades or set pieces with three walls, Perry had them constructed as functional residences with bathrooms and kitchens. Perry also kept the 19 historic homes on the premises that are leased to cast and crew that come in from out of town.
The first step involves testing the cast in whatever city they are in to ensure they are negative for COVID-19 before they travel to Atlanta via private jet. When cast and crew arrive at the lot, each will be tested (including the actors again), with everyone heading to their rooms where they will be quarantined for 24 hours until results come back. Even though all actors and crew members would be tested at the start of the shoot, everyone — except for the actors when they are on camera — will be wearing masks out of precaution. Perry himself will be quarantined with his cast and crew, following the same protocol, as he directs all episodes.
“There would be additional compensation for the crew while they are there, similar to being a non-local hire,” Perry said of the 2 1/2-3 weeks cast and crew would stay on the lot. “It will be the equivalent to if you are on location in Siberia shooting, and you have nowhere to go, you have to build your own campground to make that happen, base camp.”
As of now, this is just an idea. In the article, Perry stated that he has had preliminary conversations with the heads of 3-4 unions so far, as well as talking to the Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, the CDC and Carlos Del Rio (professor at Emory Vaccine Center) to get approval for the plan before he reopens.