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Lights! Camera! Masks? TV and film production are ramping up

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Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California, this summer.

Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California. There are a lot of starts and stops as production gets back underway in Hollywood. Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

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For months, filming in Hollywood has been mostly halted due to the pandemic, but production is slowly starting to rev up again. 

Los Angeles has seen a notable uptick in film permit applications. There’s a lot of optimism, but the billion-dollar question is: As the pandemic rages on, how can Hollywood balance the new safety protocols and production? 

 It’s complicated.

It’s hardly back to business as usual. COVID-19 safety courses are often required before arriving on set, locations must have enhanced ventilation, shooting days are limited to 10 hours — and lots of other precautions.

“If you have a prop and you have to give it to another actor, they disinfect it before you give it to the other actor,” comedian Kiki Melendez said. “You have to take a COVID test every couple of days. They’re doing everything in their power to make it work.”

That’s good news for California, where more than a quarter of a million people in the arts have filed for unemployment assistance since the pandemic began.

From July to August, film permit applications in the city were up by 40%. Most of the uptick in filming is for commercials. For a lot of actors with TV and film roles, the wait continues. 

Ada Luz Pla is an actress on shows like “Sons of Anarchy” and “On My Block.” She has work lined up on a show right now, but it just keeps getting delayed. 

“Pandemic hit, we were postponed until May,” Pla said. “Now we’re postponed until October.”

She said the vibe in Los Angeles is “hurry up, but wait.”

There are still a lot of starts and stops. Some productions that were ramped up were shut down again due to COVID-19 cases, and that has prolonged the mood of uncertainty. 

Just last week, filming of “The Batman” came to a halt because star Robert Pattinson tested positive for COVID-19. That is scary for people in the industry, said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, chief operating officer with the screen actors guild SAG-AFTRA.

“But what I would say is it’s also a sign that the system is working,” Crabtree-Ireland said. “The testing was conducted, the test results came in and the people in charge made appropriate decisions.”

So for Hollywood right now it’s lights, camera and some action.

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