Coronavirus Updates: Netflix Tells Hollywood Cast, Crew - "You Will Work in this Town Again"

Here are the latest headlines regarding how the novel coronavirus is impacting the Los Angeles startup and tech communities. Sign up for our newsletter and follow dot.LA on Twitter for the latest updates.

Today:

  • Barger Sets July 4th Goal for Reopening L.A. County
  • Netflix to Hollywood: "You will work in this town again."

    Barger Sets July 4th Goal for Reopening L.A. County

    The Fourth of July could take on new meaning this year for the ten million Los Angeles County residents who have been largely confined to their homes since March as the day they regain the liberty to shop, eat in restaurants and visit malls.

    At the second meeting of the Los Angeles County Economic Resiliency Task Force Tuesday, Supervisor Kathryn Barger said it was her goal to "reopen" the county "as early as July 4."

    "I understand the urgency to reopen and know many of the experts the county has assembled for this Task Force have been working hard to develop safe and efficient plans to revitalize their sectors as early as next month," Supervisor Barger said in a statement. "I remain focused on working with industry leaders and health officials to safely make way for Los Angeles County to reopen by the Fourth of July."

    Bill Allen, president of Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, confirmed in a presentation to the task force that there have been more than one million unemployment claims filed in the county so far; 75% of the losses are for those making less than $50,000 a year, many in the restaurant and retail industry.

    Netflix to Hollywood: "You will work in this town again."

    live.staticflickr.com

    Netflix' message to Hollywood's cast, crew and behind-the-scenes workers: "You will work in this town again." The streamer unveiled a new advertising campaign across Los Angeles on Tuesday that spotlights the faces and names of crew members hurt by Tinseltown's shutdown due to the coronavirus. The spots run from May 19 to 31 in various locations around Los Angeles county, including 17 billboards and more than 100 bus shelters, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

    At least 14,000 entertainment industry jobs have vanished in Los Angeles amid layoffs and furloughs since the virus swept through Los Angeles. To soften the blow that the coronavirus has dealt the entertainment industry – parts of it, anyway – Netflix has put up a $100 million emergency fund meant to relieve the financial pressures facing the many workers without a job for the foreseeable future. $85 million will go to workers on Netflix productions, and the remaining $15 million will head to third-party groups.


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    Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

    Christian Hetrick

    Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

    Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

    When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

    The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

    Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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    Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

    Christian Hetrick

    Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

    Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

    LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

    The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

    From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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    PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

    Jamie Williams
    ­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
    Jason Wise holding wine glass
    Image courtesy of Jason Wise

    Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

    As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

    On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

    The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

    “With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

    …Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

    For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

    “Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

    But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

    So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

    “Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

    Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

    dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.

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