How NYC plans to restart TV, film and stage productions

As New York prepares for TV and film production to gradually resume next month, the city’s entertainment chief is keeping her focus on efforts to help the Broadway and live events sector, which still face an uncertain road to recovery.

In the latest episode of Variety podcast “Strictly Business,” Anne del Castillo, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, says TV and film are poised to ramp back up on soundstages in the fall. MOME is involved with efforts at the state and federal level to advocate for specific assistance for these hard-hit communities.

“It’s been very hard to see these industries that are really so definitive of New York City just (struggling) to find a way forward,” del Castillo says. “We’re trying to help them find that way forward within all the limitations created by the health crisis and the economic crisis.”

But after losing so much tax revenue from production activity, there’s no way that NYC has any funds to hand out. Any bailout for Broadway “would require much more significant support from our federal government that we are actively advocating for.”

To bring film and TV back in a significant way, the largest production entities have been developing their own guidelines for how social distancing will work on sets and on location. After industry groups on both coasts developed white papers to lay out COVID-19 protection protocols last month, producers and others have been working with guilds to fine-tune plans for everything from temperature screenings to individually wrapped portions on the craft services table.

“Everybody was waiting for the guidance,” she said. “Now we’re really talking to TV series and film (producers) about how and when and where they want to come back. We’ll see some activity start soon, but the bulk of it will really come back in September.”

Filming on location on the streets of New York will likely be farther out — in part because so many restaurants are taking up space on streets and sidewalks to offer outdoor dining, she said.

At the time the COVID-19 crisis hit, there were 35 active non-news TV series filming in the city. It will be a slow build to get back up to that level. “I don’t think we’re going to see all 35 of them roll up at once — that would be quite a challenge,” del Castillo said.

“That’s all the more reason we’re trying to make sure we get things up and running and they are safe,” del Castillo said. “Once it gets started it’s important that it really keeps going. We don’t want to see any subsequent shutdowns.”

“Strictly Business” is Variety‘s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment. A new episode debuts each Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

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