New Coronavirus Guidelines 'Will Pretty Much Eliminate Filming' in L.A. For Now

Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

New Coronavirus Guidelines 'Will Pretty Much Eliminate Filming' in L.A. For Now

Los Angeles studios are shuttering film and TV projects as the city and county brace for the impacts of coronavirus. The extent of the slowdown can be seen in the drop in production permits being issued.

FilmLA, a nonprofit that coordinates permit applications for L.A. County and 15 other local municipalities, typically processes 250 permit applications per week. According to its president, Paul Audley, the slowdown began two weeks ago, when four projects pulled their applications – two because they did not want to fly in from New York, and two because they could not import supplies from China. Last week, applications fell by 8%. Based on Monday's numbers, Audley predicts a free-fall of 80% this week.


"Most of the work done in L.A. now is TV," he said, "and most of that is being done by larger producers – Amazon, Hulu, et cetera – so those crews tend to be pretty large."

But even the smaller shoots — commercials and independent projects, mostly — may need to shut down soon. On Monday afternoon, the White House advised against gatherings of over 10 people.

"If the county health department, which controls most of our jurisdiction, extends the 10-person limit to the county, it'll pretty much eliminate filming altogether as far as permits go," Audley said.

San Francisco and Santa Monica have already instituted a moratorium on issuing film permits.

Workers' unions throughout the entertainment industry are trying to help their members navigate the uncertainty and cope with potential hardship.

The Writers Guild of America West has a COVID-19 Resources page "to help writers weather the uncertainty of this crisis," which includes links to organizations that help support struggling entertainment workers.

The president and executive director of the Directors' Guild of America sent members a letter on Monday highlighting the organization's effort to get residual checks paid more quickly.

And SAG-AFTRA is asking members to contribute to its SAG-AFTRA Foundation to help struggling colleagues, while warning against an active online scam that is falsely purporting to raise funds for actors in need.

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