Hawaii’s TV and film await the start of production

Coronavirus

It has been a longer hiatus than expected for television and movie production, the Island Film Group’s co-founder said there is a high demand to produce content but it is a matter of making sure the sets are safe during the pandemic.

Directors, producers and actors are all trying to figure out when they can return to set. The Co-founder of the Island Film Group, Ricardo Galindez, said there is an eagerness to begin shooting material but COVID-19 safety guidelines are still fluid.

“Everybody is coming out with their own guidelines, there are federal guidelines, there’s CDC, OSHA,” Galindez said. “The unions have their own white paper out with guidelines everyone is trying to figure out how to do this in a safe manner.”

There are some safety guidelines for professional filming released by the City and County of Honolulu. State beaches and parks have not been cleared for production, the state has yet to release its set of guidance to begin issuing film permits.

They are looking forward to August 1 when travelers who demonstrate they are COVID-19 negative may skip the 14-day quarantine, they said the change could increase a client’s interest to film in Hawaii.

Currently, people who are working in a television or film project on Oahu follow a modified quarantine, the process will test people before travel and several days after arrival. These employees are put into a quarantine bubble, they can travel between their workplace and place of stay.

Galindez said the sets will look different. He expects there will be fewer people behind the scenes observing production, it is likely clients will oversee filming remotely.

He said the ideal reopening plan for production would include COVID-19 testing, they are considering rapid testing on set but those plans have not been solidified.

Galindez said, “If you are in a large feature film or TV series do you test a third of your crew every day? So you kind of have a rolling test, get everyone tested every three days, those are all different levels of precautions you might want to take.”

The changes are not only happening behind the scenes but also on-screen, it is likely productions will reduce intimate scenes that involve kissing or even singing, as saliva droplets could be spread.

Galindez said, “We are talking about the creative process, and people say you know, we would like this scene where we have all of these people singing at the same time, and it was like well, we could have done that four months ago.”

For at least Galindez and his team, the biggest obstacle remains to find a set of best practices that are tried and true for resuming production, he said the demand for content from clients is there.

Galindez said, “I think there’s going to be a lot of production coming here to Hawaii, now how that production is handled will be different for a long time.”

The state saw more $700 million in revenue statewide last year from film and television productions.

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