That was the main takeaway from a Hollywood Radio and Television Society panel Wednesday night, discussing the logistics of production during a pandemic. Participants estimated testing and other precautions are adding roughly 10% to production costs, and cited the need for “Covid-related contingencies” being incorporated into series budgets, said Erika Munro Kennerly, senior vice president and associate general counsel of Endeavor Content.
“Production is coming back. It’s just going to take a little bit longer and cost a little bit more,” said Scott Hervey, an entertainment attorney with Weintraub Tobin.
Notably, of the four content producers who participated in the conversation, three said that someone on a program had come back with a positive test, although luckily, none had been exposed to enough fellow cast or crew to require a complete shutdown.
At this point, the logistics favor so-called reality shows — which can “get up and running a lot faster,” Kennerly said — but even those are being slowed down by the need to test and quarantine before shooting can begin.
“What you’re asking those people to do is take a lot more time out of their regular life,” ABC senior vice president of alternative series, specials and latenight programming Robert Mills said in reference to “The Bachelorette,” and the need to test and quarantine prior to filming.
While the panelists said most people are happy to be working after in some instances being idled for months, there is considerable anxiety associated with the process.
Producers have also become more adept at working remotely and finding novel solutions. The panelists generally agreed that being adaptable would be necessary, citing expectations that production restrictions associated with coronavirus will continue to be an issue at least through the rest of the year.
“These are definitely times when you can innovate and actually be pretty creative,” ABC’s Mills said.