These productions could set a precedent for what the film industry looks like in a post-pandemic world.
As we know all too well, the coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly changed the landscape of the 2020 film industry. In the past few weeks, it seemed like a restart of the production process was possible, finally allowing for new films to be released. Some major US television programs, like The Bold and the Beautiful and The Bachelorette, did resume production in June. However, with new cases beginning to rise substantially again, it will most likely take much longer for US production to fully resume.
However, other countries with different approaches to the pandemic are becoming new hubs of production. In Canada, production has resumed for one specific genre: Christmas movies. To get these seasonal films released in time for the season they depict, the filmmakers have to brave the pandemic to finish production.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shut down Canadian film production on March 16, but various holiday films, such as Christmas on Wheels and Christmas Forgiveness, both set to release this holiday season, have resumed production in Ottawa and Vancouver, respectively. To keep cases down, these productions have been working with limited sets, not allowing any visitors. These sets are also utilizing quarantine pods or tents to keep crew members socially distanced. So far, these sets have been successful in not increasing the spread of coronavirus, but they have been forced to either pay much higher insurance premiums or film with no safety net at all.
Christmas on Wheels director Marita Grabiak summed up the situation to the Hollywood Reporter: “There is no insurance. That does not exist. It’s a risk.” Her production is based in Ottawa, which doesn’t have the same universal health care coverage for COVID-19 as other parts of Canada. These are the risks that must be taken to produce new content during a pandemic.
An unforeseen impact of COVID-19 may be that new international locations emerge as popular locations for production, as production cannot yet resume in countries that are still facing the worst of the pandemic. One of these locations is Ireland, which officially reopened for film production on June 29.
An increased number of US productions are set to resume production in Ireland, including Disney’s The Last Duel, directed by Ridley Scott, the Apple TV series Foundation, starring Jared Harris and Lee Pace,and the independent film Wolf, directed by Nathalie Biancheri and starring George MacKay and Lily-Rose Depp. Filmmakers in Ireland must still fill in a Passenger Locator Form and quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the country, but their tax incentives and reopening protocols have made it into a new hub for production. As the pandemic continues to play out, Ireland may remain a popular filming location in the coming years.
In addition to Ireland, various spots in Eastern Europe have also become post-pandemic filming locations. US productions filming in the Czech Republic were allowed to resume filming in mid-May. These productions include Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Netflix’s 473 Transatlantic.
Local Romanian production companies such as Castel Film and Alien Films Entertainment are set to begin working on US films in the next few weeks, but the details of these productions are being kept secret for now.
Hungary is also easing restrictions, allowing for US productions to restart later in the summer. The Netflix series Terra Vision begins filming this month, and additional shooting on Denis Villenueve’s Dune will start in August.
All these updates can give us an idea about the future of film production in a post-pandemic world. Perhaps international shoots will become more common than shooting in the US, as filmmakers turn to the countries that have had the most effective responses to the pandemic to film quickly and safely. Hopefully, these international shoots will guarantee that we see new content released in 2020 despite the continuing restrictions in the United States.