Hollywood North is ready to roll again with two TV shows set to resume shooting in B.C. next month, under COVID-19 pandemic protocols and production-specific safety plans.
Season 4 of ABC’s The Good Doctor and season 8 of the Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart have both confirmed July 20 start dates in Vancouver.
The two series are among more than a dozen productions gearing up to restart under the government’s Phase 3 guidelines, and the workplace will look very different.
On top of physical-distancing rules and enhanced cleaning protocols, the number of people on sets and locations will be limited, employees will be encouraged to work from home whenever possible, and there will be no buffets for cast and crew.
Shooting fight scenes and love scenes will also pose new challenges because of social-distancing.
“It’s very risky in a lot of ways,” said Phil Klapwyk with IATSE Local 891, which represents more than 9,000 professional artists and technicians in B.C. and the Yukon.
“The actors are the most vulnerable because obviously when they’re doing that, they can’t be wearing personal protective equipment.”
Under WorkSafeBC protocols, performers will have the “right to refuse close contact with other performers, such as hugging, kissing, and stunts requiring close contact.”
And before even arriving on set, any cast and crew arriving from outside of Canada or who are contacts of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 must undergo 14 days of self-isolation.
“The people that are on set want to be confident that the key talent that’s coming in from the United States is not going to be shedding any virus while they’re working with them,” said Klapwyk.
B.C.’s film and TV productions, which employ more than 70,000 people, all but shut down in mid-March when 42 productions were halted as the pandemic took hold.
Staff with Creative BC, the non-profit society that supports the industry, said they’ve fielded several calls from producers looking to return to B.C. since Phase 3 was announced on June 24, as well as from those who are considering coming to work in the province for the first time.
Travel restrictions are still preventing some productions from resuming work, however.
Kathleen Jayme, the Vancouver-based filmmaker behind Finding Big Country, was about to start production on the feature-length documentary on the Vancouver Grizzlies when the pandemic put her dream project on pause.
“Until the border opens, we won’t be able to do the majority of the shooting that we need to get done,” Jayme told Global News.
Prem Gill, the CEO of Creative BC, said she’s glad to see some film crews getting back to work, but that it’s too early to tell how long it will take for production to return to levels seen in the 2018/2019 fiscal year, when the industry injected $3.2 billion into the provincial economy.