Weeks after production was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos says that productions in several countries are resuming. In an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times, Sarandos said that Netflix has resumed production in South Korea, Japan and Iceland, with shooting scheduled to start again in Sweden later this month and in Iceland in July with new precautions. Production in the United States, meanwhile, remains shut down.
"Filming typically takes place in intimate, high-touch environments, with scores of artists and craftspeople working closely together on tight deadlines," Sarandos wrote. "While we will need to change this process — in some cases dramatically — to ensure the safety of cast and crew during this pandemic, the closed nature of sets also offers some advantages. Not least that they provide a relatively controlled environment, where we can track who comes and goes."
Writing that there is "no one size fits all," Sarandos went on to explain the new measures that are being taken on set at some productions. In Sweden, for example, workers self-quarantined for 14 days before returning to work, and then quarantined together throughout an 11-day shoot. In South Korea, all cast and crew have their temperatures checked regularly, with production paused if someone shows signs of infection.
In more widespread measures, hand sanitizer, masks, and gloves have been made "readily available" for cast and crew, and social distancing is being enacted when possible, with some productions monitoring the number of people on set. On-set buffets have been replaced with box meals, and breaks are announced every two or three hours to allow cast and crew to wash their hands and for on-set areas to be sanitized. Productions are also postponing the filming of crowd or action scenes and intimate moments as well as scenes requiring international travel. In some scenarios, this involved rewriting scripts.
"The business of bringing stories to life onscreen is built on partnership and trust. We will only make progress if everyone who returns to the set, whether they are in front of or behind the camera, feels safe doing so," Sarandos wrote. "None of this is easy, and many questions remain unanswered. But we are cautiously optimistic that we can adapt to this restricted reality… As we've seen during this period of isolation, stories can help connect people even when they are apart. The adage is as old as our business, but it has never been more true: The show must — and will — go on."