Pandemic Soundstage: Policy and Reality in Hollywood’s Return to Work

Kate Fortmueller (2022). “Pandemic Soundstage: Policy and Reality in Hollywood’s Return to Work” Essential: Global Film and Television Production During the Pandemic. April 9-11. Tulane University. New Orleans, LA.

Abstract: In September 2020 Hollywood blockbusters resumed production, but it was by no means a return to normal. On big union productions, life on set had been altered in accordance with new safety measures as outlined by a task force comprised of the AMPTP, all the unions and guilds, and several health officials in their white paper and a second document, “The Safe Way Forward,” that added additional “organizing principles.” This collaboration between unions and management was unprecedented, marking a shift in how producers, studios and unions dealt with set safety proactively rather than in response to a tragic accident. However, the collaborative effort between those who fund and those who make Hollywood film and television, was just one of the media return-to-work plans. Stakeholders in these plans represented different state and private financial interests. I look at union-endorsed policies and the state guidelines to identify and compare the varied interests are reflected in the policies. Regardless of whether pandemic measures (or on-set consultants) remain long-term, these plans have helped raise new questions about media worker safety.