Tyler Perry is taking on a risky yet major move by reopening his studios in Atlanta amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Considering the thorough precautions being taken, his moves could set a precedent for future productions.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Perry sent out a 30-page document to his cast detailing the plans to start production in July.
The lengthy document, titled “Camp Quarantine”, says that the cast and crew of the hit TV shows “Sistas” and “The Oval” will all stay on his huge studio campus in Georgia for the duration of filming as a way to protect against contracting the novel coronavirus. The document explains the number of steps people will have to take in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
First, the cast will be tested with the nasal swab method, which is proven to be 97 percent accurate. They’ll be tested in their hometown 16 days before travel and then they’ll self-isolate for the remaining time before their travel date. They will then travel in private flights, arranged by Perry, to Atlanta. Once they land, they’ll be tested again from the car using a 15-minute rapid test by Abbot Labs, which is 85 percent accurate.
The car driver and the talent will both wear face masks the entire time, and their belongings will be sanitized before loading. While in Atlanta, the cast will wait for shuttles that usually seat 25 people, however, in order to maintain social distancing, the shuttle will carry 10 individuals at a time. Once they arrive at the studio, the castmembers will be retested using the nasal swab method while crewmembers going through a similar process. The tests will be carried out by licensed medical staff provided by Emory Healthcare.
Cast and crew will be isolated in their individual rooms until the test results are in, which is expected to be four to six hours. Anyone who tests negatively, will not be allowed to leave their housing quarters until all cast and crew results have been confirmed. Once this occurs and only those who tested negative are left, folks will be able to go outside their private rooms. With anyone who tests positive, strict guidelines will be carried out to get the person medical attention and remove them from the campus immediately.
“Once inside the quarantine bubble, participants are not permitted to leave for the entire 14-day period,” reads the document.
The typical precautions such as face masks and social distancing will be required at all times, with exceptions only for talent filming their scenes and during hair and makeup.
Additional PCR rapid testing will be administered four days from the cast and crew’s check-in date to ensure the negative results that were previously reported. A nasal swab exit testing will also be required once the individual has completed their shooting.
The extensive document also listed information about the on-set cleaning process and a reimagining of craft services. Perry started the PDF with a letter that mourned the death of crewmember Charles Gregory Ross, who became ill with COVID-19 a couple days after production wrapped and died a few weeks later. Perry also acknowledges the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has on Black communities.
“It is with that sobering reality and the understanding that African Americans are disproportionately affected by this virus in vast numbers, and also knowing that my cast and crew members are largely African American — that we came up with this plan to return to work safely,” Perry’s letter read.
“I want it to be abundantly clear that there was no way I could or would consider putting people back to work without a plan that takes extreme measures to try and mitigate as much risk as possible in our productions, and I think we’ve managed to do just that. It took a village of staff, medical doctors, epidemiologists, lawyers, union reps, talent and their reps, crew members, insurers, and a lot of other great thinkers to come up with this plan.”
Although some productions around the globe have already resumed post-COVID-19 shooting, few have reported such extensive plans as Perry.
Netflix has resumed shooting for productions in places like South Korea, according to Financial Times. However, the cast doesn’t get tested for the coronavirus as much as Tyler Perry Studios plans on testing their staff and talent. Instead, people on set have their temperatures checked daily and if anyone shows signs of infection, the production is halted.
Hand sanitizer, masks and gloves have also become present on set, while employees eat boxed lunches instead of open buffets. Every few hours, cast and crew take a break to disinfect surfaces and wash their hands as well. Make-up artists also use single-use, disposable applicators while stylists and wardrobe people steam-clean clothes daily. Scenes with big crowds have to be written out until the pandemic subsides.
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