BATON ROUGE, La. — Today, Louisiana Entertainment, a division of Louisiana Economic Development, announced safety guidelines for the restart of motion picture production in the state. Developed with entertainment industry input, the guidelines are designed to ensure the safety of Louisiana residents and anyone working on a motion picture production as the movie and TV industry gets back to business in Louisiana. The majority of filming in Louisiana has been on hiatus since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but a few productions already are making preparations to resume filming and additional production activity is expected to ramp up in August and September.
Among the guidelines, productions filming anywhere in Louisiana should designate a COVID-19 compliance officer, require face coverings for everyone except performers, limit access to production areas and encourage the use of digital assets, such as scripts and call sheets when possible. Productions also are encouraged to follow familiar protocols, such as social distancing, frequent hand-washing, temperature checks and active monitoring of personnel for potential exposure and any signs of illness.
“We are doing everything in our power to ensure the health and safety of all who live and work in Louisiana during this challenging time,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “This commitment extends to the entertainment industry as we prepare to welcome motion picture production back to our state. Our talented workforce has helped to position Louisiana as a leading destination for entertainment production for many years. With the safety of workers and residents in mind, we look forward to the return of film production here and the positive effects that activity has across our economy.”
The guidelines, available here, represent a broad range of best practices recommended by state government and several industry groups. The document incorporates two recent industry safety reports, one from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and another – called “The Safe Way Forward” – issued jointly by the Directors Guild of America, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the Teamsters and SAG-AFTRA, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
As the motion picture industry prepares to resume production activities following the COVID-19 stoppage, pandemic-related issues appear to be placing a greater emphasis on domestic production opportunities, said Chris Stelly, LED’s executive director of entertainment and digital media.
“At the same time, this production pause and the continuing growth of streaming services are increasing the demand for quality content,” Stelly said. “Louisiana is well-positioned to respond to these opportunities and help entertainment production companies ramp up quickly with state-of-the-art facilities located throughout the state, a deep and talented crew base, and film-friendly communities.”
In 2019, Louisiana Entertainment certified $538.5 million in Louisiana spending from film production activity, along with $167.5 million in Louisiana resident payroll. Since the start of Louisiana’s entertainment incentive program in 2002, the film industry has generated more than $7 billion in motion picture production activity in the state.
“We have been working for months with our studio, vendor and crew partners to develop the safest way to return,” said Trey Burvant, president of the Louisiana Film and Entertainment Association. “The safety policies that are being put in place are aggressive and intelligently designed for mitigation. Before the pandemic, we had 15 shows in our state. As these productions start to come back safely online, we look to be busier than ever when we return.”
“Our No. 1 goal for our crews, our partners and the communities we work in, is to have the safest working environment possible,” said Cory Parker, business agent for International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 478 in New Orleans. “The entire film industry has rallied together to come up with these working protocols to protect the crew, the talent and our communities. The foundation of our guidelines is testing, followed by strict protocols for wearing PPE, social distancing, handwashing, sanitizing equipment and the use of a ‘zone system’ to monitor on-set safety.”