Advanced technology may facilitate movie production amid pandemic

WBRZ | By: Sydney Kern

The movie industry in the capital area is at least a month away from production picking back up again.

Film and TV producers are still trying to map out the safest way for crews to work together during the pandemic. But new technology could make the transition much easier.

“Certainly everyone is eager to get back to work, and they want to get on set,” Director of Operations at Celtic Studios Aaron Bayham said. “We have a backlog of new projects that needed to be shooting during this time that couldn't. So the demand for content and stage space should be greater than ever once we're able to get back to work."

Bayham, participating in a Zoom meeting on Wednesday with others in the industry, says right now everyone is working together to come up with a plan. That includes figuring out ways to limit the amount of people on set and how to test all the workers for COVID-19.

“Having relationships with testing centers or labs that can process these tests in a reasonable time is going to be crucial,” Bayham said.

Cameras are rolling again in other countries as well as a few in California. Though Bayham says the way movies are made will soon significantly change, pandemic or not.

“We're looking at a virtual production option where you would set up basically LED panels with what you would normally do with green screen,” Bayham said.

This is the way the Star Wars TV series ‘The Mandalorian’ is being filmed. The actors are surrounded by a huge screen that can display an interactive background behind them.

“That's going to be a really interesting option for any projects that can use that, because it limits the amount of people you need on set at any given time to film something,” Bayham said. “It's a time and money-saving effort. As long as you don't need a big practical set, I think productions are going to look at that option more and more."

Locally, movie executives believe filming will resume in New Orleans first. Some projects there stopped in the middle of production, making it easier to pick back up.