As the world continues to grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Hollywood is no exception. With film and television production grinding to a halt various times in the last two years, the industry has been working hard to come up with protocols and guidelines to ensure a safe return to work. Not only safe by financially viable since a sudden wave of infections can shut down a production down for days and weeks costing millions.
One issue that has been front and center in these discussions is the question of vaccine mandates for cast and crew members. According to a recent article in Deadline, Hollywood unions are pushing for a vaccine mandate, arguing that it is necessary to ensure the safety of all those involved in production. On the other hand, production companies are said to be more hesitant, citing concerns about employee privacy and the feasibility of enforcing such a mandate which is nonsense. Having cast and crew safe and if they do get sick out as short a period of time is worth every moment of grief.
ollSAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher, to no one’s surprise, has been leading the charge against the mandate and put out a survey of members the guild about their views. One of the questions on the survey asks:“Do you approve of employers requiring Covid-19 vaccination as a condition of access to the set?” It’s no surprise because Drescher hasn’t even addressed the horrible decisions her predecessors made two years ago about health benefits and has ignored the issue completely.
It’s no secret that the entertainment industry relies heavily on close contact and large groups of people, making it particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19. With that in mind, it’s understandable that unions would want to take every precaution to protect their members. However, it’s also important to consider the concerns of production companies, who may have logistical and legal challenges in implementing a vaccine mandate.
One possible solution to this could be offering incentives for cast and crew members who choose to get vaccinated, rather than mandating it. Things like priority access to work, bonuses, or other perks. By offering incentives rather than mandating vaccinations, production companies could still ensure the safety of all those involved in production while also getting around the perceived privacy and autonomy concerns of employees and producers.
Whatever the outcome of negotiations, it’s clear the future of film and television production in Hollywood will be majorly influenced by the way the industry chooses to handle the COVID-19 pandemic. Cast and crews working together in small confines or in close ways need to protect themselves, others and the production. It’s important that the industry leaders come to a decision that is both practical and safe for all parties involved.
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