As mass lockdowns suffocate millions of small businesses, one of the few industries allowed to soldier on through the pandemic, Hollywood, has some insight into just how long restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus could last. Although Operation Warp Speed proved a booming success, with a vaccine hitting the public, Momita Sengupta, Netflix’s VP Production Manager for Original Series, and Kwame Parker, Director of Production Management foresee restrictions persisting for the next one to two years.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter about Netflix’s “Let’s Keep Rolling” campaign, designed to educate employees of the importance of social distancing and other preventive measures, Parker believes that “Everything that we are doing now with testing and (personal protective equipment) is probably going to remain through all of next year — not probably, it is going to remain through all of next year.”
“It’s been a challenge from day one. There is nothing about our industry and making shows that is about being six feet apart,” Sengupta said of the measures. “We are a touchy-feely, close-contact industry. We have fantastic protocols but for an industry that is so used to coming close to each other and working out an issue — a director talking to an actor about what she or he needs from that scene — to have to do that with your mask, to be six feet apart, to have all these monitors saying, ‘Hey, watch your distance,’ it’s really, really hard.”
When asked why the film industry proved to be essential and other industries, especially restaurants, are under perpetual shutdown, Parker credited the on-set protocols, omitting the obvious fact that Hollywood and the film industry pulls in more money for states than small businesses do.
“I think a lot has to do with our protocols…We are pulling from the community, whether it be construction or Transpo [drivers], we are pulling a lot of individuals from the community and we are introducing them to a higher testing cadence, definitely higher than what the community is doing, and we are putting them in multilayered PPE,” said Parker. “So we are now basically creating a safe zone slowly again for a community.”
“It’s PPE first, testing second because that’s what’s really preventing the spread,” Parker added. “In the community, people are being tested once, that’s it. On our shows, you have individuals being tested weekly and some three times a week, some, even more, depending on what’s going on. So I think a lot of that plays into it because, again, it’s a risk assessment.”
Simply put, there is no argument for why the film industry deserves to be able to trudge through the pandemic, and small businesses, many built from the ground up by hard-working Americans, are crushed under arbitrary lockdowns, with more rounds of lockdowns on the horizon in some states. With over 100,000 establishments permanently shutting their doors, according to Yelp’s September Local Economic Impact Report, America can no longer allow the rich, such as the film industry, to stuff their pockets while we sacrifice the livelihoods of small business owners through the lockdowns