Keanu Reeves in SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run. Photograph: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Coronavirus is changing the way films are being shot, produced, and enjoyed by audiences worldwide. Since the beginning of the shutdown, approximately 100,000 film industry workers have lost their jobs, and production has halted on some of the industry’s most lucrative projects.

With many stateside studios locked down, studios are looking abroad for places to film safely. Some larger studios are eyeing countries like New Zealand and Iceland for their natural beauty and the open space needed for social distancing on set. Both Iceland and New Zealand employed strict social distancing protocols and extensive testing, resulting in a dramatic drop in new coronavirus cases.

The coronavirus has also upended normal protocols for working on a film set. Social distancing measures are strictly enforced by directors, and protective masks are becoming a staple on set. The pandemic has also forced many summer blockbusters like Marvel’s Black Widow and Sony’s James Bond to push their release dates later into the year. Those restrictions on production have bolstered the animation business, as demand for content is on the rise and the technology used to create animated films is more compatible with social distancing protocols.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Two Projects Are Filming Again. Here’s How They’re Doing It. – New York Times – 5/15/20 The two filmmakers are among the few who have found their way back into production amid a pandemic. Armed with expansive medical staffs, stringent protocols and imposing security guards willing to yell “Two meters!” whenever anyone gets too close, Kormakur and Foster are the unlikely trailblazers at the dawn of a new era in filmmaking.

Digital theatre is thriving, but at what expense to live performance? – South China Morning Post – 5/18/20 Digital is the only safe stage right now. Theatres, fighting for their lives, have been creatively exploring how to connect to their audiences with media technology. American playwright Richard Nelson wrote a play for Zoom, celebrated productions from the past are streaming, online benefit play-readings are proliferating and virtual town halls have become the new theatre hang-out.

How coronavirus has animated one section of the film industry – The Guardian – 5/19/20 Unlike their live action counterparts, animators can work in isolation. It is common for animators and special effects staff to work in groups remotely around the world. This allows them to avoid the coronavirus concerns affecting live shoots, such as how to maintain physical distancing. Such an advantage makes animation work an alternative for schedulers and audiences as broadcasters and multiplexes scramble for fresh content.

Coronavirus Stories: A Norwegian Animation Studio Has Reopened, But It’s Far From Normal – Cartoon Brew – 5/18/20 This isn’t a full-blown return to normality. “[Staff] are still encouraged to work at home,” says Fearnley. In any case, desks are now spaced two meters (six-and-a-half feet) apart, limiting the number of people who can fit in the studio. Those who come in are rigorously observing hand-washing and other guidelines. “In our lunch room we might have two lunch shifts every day, and everyone must bring ready-to-eat food for themselves.”

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

Sam E. Antar on Twitter, 5/17/20: The Crazy Eddie movie #Insane will be released in animation by Pixar because of the #coronavirus pandemic and most importantly, because no actor in Hollywood possesses my good looks. Cc: ⁦@killingjef⁩ ⁦@SarahSoWitty

The News & Observer on Twitter, 5/15/20: The NBC drama “Blacklist” used graphic novel-style animation to complete the season finale after production was disrupted by the coronavirus.

WTOP on Twitter, 5/15/20: Virginia’s film and television production industry, which generates million of dollars annually in the state, has been mostly closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

NBC News World on Twitter, 5/18/20: The New Zealand government, which aggressively contained the coronavirus outbreak, has announced that domestic film productions can start rolling cameras again, with international productions, including James Cameron’s “Avatar” sequels, to follow.

New York Daily News on Twitter, 5/19/20: Actor Brian Cox says the movie business has lost its way in recent years, falling behind TV as the home of the most imaginative entertainment. The coronavirus pandemic, he hopes, will prompt a revival. “A new paradigm has to be created.”

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